Search Engine Use Of The <head>

Sitepoint Members,
Do you think search engines use any of the information in the <head> to rank web pages?



Ha ha, o yes indeed. There are some very important items there, such as

<title>Page Title</title>
<meta content="A really important description of what the page is about" name="description">
<meta content="key, words, about, this, page," name="keywords">

The title you see in search results is generally taken from the <title> element in the head, and the description beneath it from the meta description. Keywords can also help search engines determine the nature of your content, thought I gather Google is not so interested in them these days.

Earlier the information in the meta tags was really important and affected ranking a a lot.Use of Keywords now dont have much effect on Page Rank.Google and Bing dont consider keywords,Yahoo still gives them a little importance.However the Description still holds gr8 value.

Meta tags Plyas main role for getting rank into search engine. The title described your web page or product or services in one line.

I was up too late when I wrote that overly general question. Do you think search engines use any of the code in the <head> other than title, description, and keywords? What if I have css not in a seprate file?

I don’t know about “using” it, but I have seen sites where there is a huge amount of CSS and/or JavaScript in the <head> and it seems to have had an adverse affect on indexing and ranking. (I have a mental image of a little bot trying to read its way through all the extraneous stuff, getting bored and thinking “To pot with it - I’m off in search of something more interesting.” :lol:) A few lines of CSS isn’t going to do any harm, though.

I though maybe I could answer my question by typing into google


and it couldn’t find the css code in my site.

Does that finding have any value?

Google is not going to store the CSS in your <head> for its search results. The point of search is mainly to display content that people have displayed in the <body>, which is meant for public display.

So if I have a lot of CSS in the <head>, it’s not going to affect the ranking of my page for the terms I have in the page. Right?

Right. :slight_smile:

That’s great. I put my css in in a php file instead of a css file. It loads a lot faster this way, but in view source / page source you see all the css, whereas with a css file view/page source don’t show the css. So I wondered if it’s viewable in page sources, maybe a search engine would see it.

Thanks Ralph,


It’s fine to have CSS in the <head> section—such as when you have some styles that only apply to that page. That’s not what search engines are looking for. They are looking for on-page content that might be useful to people searching the web. :slight_smile:

[font=verdana]Exactly. Search engines are not the policemen of the web, they’re not trying to enforce coding standards, they’re just trying to return the most relevant content for users. Anything that isn’t “content”, such as styles and scripts, will be ignored from an indexing and ranking point of view (although certain things like styles that appear to be used to hide text may be considered). Styles and scripts – whether inline, embedded or linked – are not going to be taken as content.

Whether you use inline, embedded or linked CSS and JS depends on what you’re doing with it, but SEO isn’t an issue. The reason for linking stylesheets rather than embedding them is to improve caching. While embedded CSS (whether hard-coded or included through PHP) might load quicker for one page, when a visitor goes to another page on the site, they have to download the whole lot again. So over the course of a site visit, it will almost certainly give worse performance than a linked stylesheet.[/font]

I have my css code in a php file. I used to use a css folder but I found that by looking at the progression of loading bar at the botton left of my ff browser (fire bug?, yslow?) I could actually see the browser waiting for the css folder to open. With the php file no waiting. Up until I added an new image to my home page, my home page loaded as fast as .39 seconds. Just now while writing this it loaded in .40 seconds. (I guess a 16k image doesn’t take long to load.)



(Using for testing load speed.)