What is the meta tag for, exactly?

So, in every HTML code I see, I always see a
< meta charset=“insert stuff that I don’t know what they’re supposed to mean, like utsf8”>
So, what is the meta tag for, really? What is it’s purpose? Is it important? Because, I think, when I make websites I never use the meta tag. But nothing bad happens, when I don’t use it. Plus, what is a “charset” and “utsf8”? (I think that’s what I saw in a meta tag, or at least something close to that…). Please tell me, because for some unknown reason I feel like this is really important and that I must be a fool if I don’t know what this tag is for…

Meta tags are often used for SEO and allowing applications for getting a snapshot of what the website contains.

For example, this:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" />

tells the browser or program that the website is mobile-friendly.


what’s SEO?And what is a “charset” and a “utsf8”? I think “charset” is supposed to mean “character set” but a set of characters…for what? And I can’t make head or tail of “utsf8”…

A set of statics to get your website to the top of search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, etc…)

A big list of characters for browsers, w3schools sums it up quite well.

I belive you mean UTF-8, its one of the most modern and standardized charsets.


What’s XUA-compatible in a meta tag? That’s the only part I’ve never understood.

SEO stands for search engine optimization meaning making your site a higher rank on a search engine like Google, Yandex, Bing and Yahoo, and metatags gives info about a page, like title, description, etc which can improve SEO. If you have valid metatags, and paste your website on a site the supports website previews, then can generate some nice looking previews. Examples:


X-UA-Compatible is a document mode meta tag that allows web authors to choose what version of Internet Explorer the page should be rendered as.
- Lifewire

1 Like

Hi Kaito and/or Zahra,

Just to simplify… the word “meta” kind of means “about itself”. The meta tags in HTML contain metadata, which just means “data about the HTML below”

Basically we use these tags to add information to the page that’s useful for computers and servers and infrastructure, but that humans don’t really need to see.

The charset meta for example, tells the browser “what characters (latin, japanese, emoji) am I going to find in this page??”. If we didn’t tell it, sometimes exotic characters would come out wrong: Bad encoding example

Some of the other meta, like description, were used in the past by search engines, but are very rarely used now.

Others contain technical information for certain browsers, like the viewport meta tells phones how to display a page in a suitable way for their screens:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

I hope this helps a bit :slight_smile:


the description attribute’s output can be seen on search engines.

Hello, please don’t bump old and solved threads.