A cursory look at the source for Stack Overflow sites shows that there aren't any pages on the site that uses the <meta> tag for things like description, keywords, robots et al.

Now, I'm aware that folks have opinions on the usefulness of meta tags and search engines, but there are definite uses for it (setting the charset to UTF-8, for example, as is done on Stack Exchange).

Can anyone provide any official commentary on why SE doesn't use meta tags?

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    No, it isn't a duplicate, you're talking about HTML <meta> tags. – nyuszika7h Feb 24 '11 at 10:33
  • @Nyuszika7H: Lol! Yeah, just realised and removed the edit/updated the tag! – Dan Atkinson Feb 24 '11 at 10:34
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    Good point. This is the strongest piece of evidence I've seen so far that those tags really don't matter for search engine results! – Pëkka Feb 24 '11 at 10:38
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    @Pekka - That's not necessarily true. Google might've done some manual adjustments in their secret algorithms for site as big as SO. – GrzegorzOledzki Feb 24 '11 at 10:43
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    Another question is why doesn't MetaSO use meta tags? – GrzegorzOledzki Feb 24 '11 at 10:43
  • Proposed an edit. – nyuszika7h Feb 24 '11 at 10:48
  • Related, if not a dupe: meta http-equiv. – Arjan Feb 24 '11 at 11:33
  • @Arjan: Related, but definitely not a dupe. Please read @Nyuszika7H's answer as a reference. – Dan Atkinson Feb 24 '11 at 11:36
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    possible duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74068/… – cregox Mar 3 '11 at 17:53
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    @Cawas - This is indeed a dupe of that question. – Dan Atkinson Mar 5 '11 at 18:45
  • I agree with Cawas and Dan Atkinson this is a dupe. – dragonloverlord Apr 15 '13 at 15:37

Meta tags have basically two usages: the main usage is enhancing information. The second though most used function is improving visibility in search engines. Both are evidently (implied in the question) suppressed by other means.

Quoting the first note about meta tags on w3.org:

Note. The W3C Resource Description Framework (see [RDF10]) became a W3C Recommendation in February 1999. RDF allows authors to specify machine-readable metadata about HTML documents and other network-accessible resources.

That already says a lot about using meta tags for its main purpose. Also there's no reason to add hidden relevant information on the HTML. It's better to just add them to a sitemap, faq, info, about, anywhere within the website structure, visible both for robots and people.

This website analyzes the SO page design in deep, and the guy also gives a good analysis on why not adding meta tags for search engine, and using Robots.txt instead. The SO folks do use robots.txt and also do some optimization for search engines. So, no good reason to insist on meta tags for SEO.

As for few more specific usages:

That's not to say meta tags are utterly and completely useless, but I believe they're used in Stack Exchange due to a mere lack of standard within the SO team and there's no real need for them.


So, I have this perfect use scenario, which is not a SEO, where the keywords would help a major deal:

I use Zotero to track various technical tips found on Stack Overflow and other places on the Web. Without keywords it makes it so tedious to enter the already generated, but missing from META keywords one-by-one by hand. Ufff...

Please, consider bringing the keywords IN!


Probably they set up the headers in PHP, like this:

<?php header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8'); ?>
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    Well, that's the charset covered, but what about the other tags?! Also, the site is written in ASP.NET MVC, not PHP. ;) – Dan Atkinson Feb 24 '11 at 10:37
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    I think he means the "description" and "keywords" Meta tags. – Pëkka Feb 24 '11 at 10:37
  • @Dan, this covers the very example you're asking about, and you kind of took search engine tags out of your question. What other tags do you want to discuss? – Arjan Feb 24 '11 at 11:31
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    @Arjan: Hmmm... Robots, description, author, keywords. Need I go on?! – Dan Atkinson Feb 24 '11 at 11:36
  • @Dan If not for the (search engine) robots, what else are those meta tags good for anyway? – cregox Mar 3 '11 at 15:44
  • @Cawas There's also meta redirects, but I think you're missing the point. I'd like to know why there are none, including why the use of meta for search engines aren't being used! – Dan Atkinson Mar 3 '11 at 17:05
  • @Dan, I think your 2nd paragraph makes people think you're excluding the search engine meta things for your question — so did I, which explains my comment above. Reading the 2nd paragraph again, I could also think you're not excluding anything, but my first impression really was otherwise. – Arjan Mar 3 '11 at 18:46

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