5 Replies Latest reply on Jul 17, 2008 2:55 PM by Skemcin

    <cfheader> vs. <meta>

    Skemcin Level 1
      I've searched around a little and I can't seem to find a clear answer on this one.

      I am curious to know if <cfheader> is any better or worse to use in place of <meta> with respect to SEO things like description and keywords.

      I know <cfheader> is better for things like cache-control, pragma, last-modified, and expires. But do search engines prefer the description and keyword information in the header or body of the HTTP request?

      In other words, which is better:
      <meta name="description" content="[text]">
      <meta name="keywords" content=[text]"">
      <cfheader name="description" value="[text]">
      <cfheader name="keywords" value="[text]">

      Do search engines treat these any differently?

      Thanks in advance.
        • 1. Re: &lt;cfheader&gt; vs. &lt;meta&gt;
          Level 7
          I think you are confusing the HTTP header with the <head> section of an
          HTML document.

          It might be a good idea to read the docs on <cfheader>.


          • 2. Re: &lt;cfheader&gt; vs. &lt;meta&gt;
            Skemcin Level 1

            Thanks for the reply.

            I'm not confused at all. I'm pretty well informed of the difference between HTTP header and <head>. That is exactly why I am asking the question.

            For instance, the HTML 4.0 standard use of <meta> with the HTTP-EQUIV definition is designed to basically tell servers "hey this is HTTP header information even though you're seeing in the body". I know the <meta> tag goes between the <head> tags of a rendered page.

            But if keyword and description information is passed in the HTTP header, will spiders/bots see and use it? Is it an alternative to passing it with the HTTP body (or rendered web page)? Spiders/bots already examine the header to look for status codes like 200 OK or 301 Moved Permanently so it can properly index pages. So I am wondering if more information can be communicated there as well.

            A client of mine asked me if there <meta> tags could be hidden - primarily so their competition isn't able to get a hint as to how to enhance their site for SEO. Granted, there is much more to SEO than just <meta> tags - much more in fact. But the <meta> tag is one of the first place people go. When I code keywords and descriptions in <cfheader> the information is passed in the header - not the body - so the text is not rendered on the page - so its not in the view source. You'd have ot go through a little more work to get - I know its not hidden - but the average person is not going to know this.

            Having said all that, I'm still curious to know if anyone has any idea if search engines can parse keywords and descriptions from the HTTP header.
            • 3. &lt;cfheader&gt; vs. &lt;meta&gt;
              davidsimms Level 1
              Interesting question Skemcin and I don't claim to know the answer definitively, but how many developers do you know who place keywords in the HTTP header? None that I know of. Given that, it would seem more than a little odd that any spider would look there for content to index.
              • 4. Re: &lt;cfheader&gt; vs. &lt;meta&gt;
                Level 7
                > I'm not confused at all.

                OK. Have it your way.

                But maybe you should read this:

                • 5. Re: &lt;cfheader&gt; vs. &lt;meta&gt;
                  Skemcin Level 1
                  An excellent point - I do not know any developers that use any scripting language to pass this information in the header. But spiders do not behave the same way a browser does. Some bots only request the header to check a bunch of other meta data that is useful for indexing - why not save a whole trip and collect keywords and descriptions? I'm not saying it is right or wrong, better or worse - I've just been fascinated with the idea of putting the information in the header to have it removed from the rendered page. I will continue to use <meta> tags in the mean time and if I am not able to find to a conclusive answer - like you said, that would make the most sense.

                  @Adam Cameron
                  I'm not trying to "have it my way" I was simply pointing out that I understand the principle use of <cfheader> as it is defined in livedocs and other references. I think my original post disclaimed that pretty obviously. So I'm not sure the stab you took in you're second reply was warranted.

                  In any respect, the second article you reference had some useful information. Particularly these two statments:

                  Using an HTTP header is preferable to using META tags, since the header will be understood by cache agents and proxies in addition to browsers, and metadata (such as PICS data) may be associated with image files, sound files, etc.
                  Sometimes the distinction is blurred; some agents may interpret tags such as "keywords" declared as either "name" or as "http-equiv".

                  On one hand, I am encouraged to consider using <cfheader> based on the first statement I extracted. But on the other hand I am still weary of using <cfheader> for stuff I traditionally define in regular HTML <meta> tags.

                  However, this is all browser talk and we all know that spiders and bots do not follow the same rules that browsers do. So, although the article was somewhat definitive on how browsers would handle the use of <cfheader> vs. <meta> it still leaves me to wonder about spiders and bots.

                  I think I'm going to have to track down a good SEO discussion forum to see if anyone there can help me come to a conclusion.