Thursday, 16 October 2008

The difference between <title> and <meta name="title"> tags

Use the <title> tag for your page title. Don't bother with a <meta name="Title"> tag.

How i've got this far and not realised this is a mystery. It's only on the back of an email to one of my suppliers in which i asked them to change all the automated titles on my website that i discovered this. I asked them to change the "meta title tags" so they did. They took my word to the letter and so just changed the <meta name="title"> tag leaving the <title> tag as it was, not much help.

Thanks to a really helpful description here, i now know the difference.

The title tag appears in your HTML like this:
<title>Your page title</title>
The meta title tag appears in your HTML like this:
<meta name="title" content="Your page title">
The <title> tag is what feeds your browser title and is also what will appear in Google, see how i've subtely circled where the <title> tag appears in the two screenshots below.

screenshot of web browser page title

screenshot of a google search result with the page title highlighted

As far as i can tell from a wide number of forums, blogs, SEO advice sites the <meta name="title"> tag is pointless. It is possible that some search engines (but not Google, Yahoo, MSN) use it but i wouldn't bother with it all.

This point is further backed up by looking in the source code of the top sites on the web, the following sites do not contain the <meta name="title"> at all, they just have a <title> tag:

17 comments:

Web Design said...

Well but the question remain the same why we use META NAME="Title" or [title][/title] if both of them shows the result of [title][/title] tag then why using meta tag??

Ed said...

What? Isn't that what i said?! Don't use the meta tag, it's pointless, just use the title tag.

cas said...

i believe facebook uses it when you try to share a page... I'm trying to sort this out right now, and it looks that's one big reason why to use meta tag title.

if someone can refute that, that'd be cool.

cheers,
cas.

Ed said...

Think i can refute that. I've just posted a link to Facebook from the BBC website (which does not have meta name="title" tags) and it appears perfectly.

See a screenshot here.

I would try a site that does have meta name="title" tags for comparison but i can't find one!

Anonymous said...

Some search engines do use meta tags some don't.

Meta tags are useful to have information on the page which isn't visble.

E.g. You could title your page 'The meaning of web' with [title] tags and then have within a meta name='title' content='The meaning of web - v4.26'

Although some large sites don't use meta tags this doesn't mean smaller sites shouldn't. Small sites need all the help they can get to climb the search ladders.

Nick Beat said...

Facebook will normally grab the Title and the first paragraph of the page to show in the teaser when someone posts a link. The META tags are useful when you want the title and description to present differently than this default.

For instance, you might want to change the title to "Join our Service Today!" or some other engaging marketing message.

The description is actually really useful, since the first paragraph of your site will change frequently.

Anonymous said...

you said yahoo not use meta title but we can at http://bookmarks.yahoo.com/

Karthik said...

Nice clarification! Thanks for the great share

Bala said...

Well said! Very useful tips...

Will said...

So, is the consensus of opinion that we should use both just in case??

Sam said...

Very well explained. For my part, I always use the meta tags in all my pages.

DgsWilson said...

Wow. Comments.

Use whatever you want

Author is giving you facts. Take the facts and proceed as you see fit.

YOMA said...

Good explanations, thanks.

Bing and Yahoo use Meta keywords, so it might be worth including the meta title to, for other search engines, just in case.

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Anonymous said...

FACEBOOK USE THE META FIRST