How to Make the Meta Tags for Your Website into an Editable Region in a Dreamweaver Template

Marking the Meta Description and Other Tags as Modifiable

How to Make the Meta Tags for Your Website into an Editable Region in a Dreamweaver Template

by Christopher Heng,

From time to time, I get visitors to asking me how they can add meta tags to their Dreamweaver website templates in such a way that it can be customised ("customized" in US English) for every page on their site. This article addresses that question.

For the Experienced User: The Short Answer

The short answer to this question is that you don't need to add things like meta tags and title tags to your template at all. The Dreamweaver web editor handles these things intelligently, realising that they will be different on every page on your site. As such, it allows you to add and change them for individual pages derived from your templates, even if you have not set them as Editable Regions in the templates. In fact, you need not even bother to insert such tags in your template at all.

If you're left with more questions than answers reading the above paragraph, or if some part of the question or answer is not clear to you, please read the long answer below. For example, if you're thinking, "Yeah, great. But how do I add the meta tag?" or "what on earth is a meta tag or template?", you should continue with the rest of the article.

The Answer In Greater Detail

Since the question itself is loaded with the technical jargon used by webmasters and seasoned Dreamweaver users, I shall first unpack it in the sections below before going into the answer. For those who do not have a website at all, and are reading this article just to get a feel for things, I strongly recommend that you take a look at the How to Make / Create a Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide. The beginner's guide is targeted at the complete newcomer and makes no assumptions about what you know or do not know.

What are Meta Tags?

Webmasters typically put a short blurb describing what their web page is all about in something called a "meta description tag" on each web page on their site. This tag is sometimes used by some search engines as the descriptive text for your web page when it is listed in the search engine results. Since this tag should describe what that particular page contains, it stands to reason that every page on your website should have a different meta tag (unless all your pages have identical content).

For more information about meta tags, as well as more information about the different types of meta tags available, please see my other meta tag tutorials:

What is a Dreamweaver Template?

Dreamweaver provides a special facility called "templates" that allow you to manage multiple pages on your website in an efficient and easy manner. It allows you to change the design of your website in one place and have the web editor do all the tedious work of updating all the pages on your site to that new design.

A consequence of using templates is that you have to tell Dreamweaver which portion of your web page is part of the fixed design that is to be identical throughout your website, and which portion will vary on different pages. You do this by flagging the parts that can change as "editable regions". Dreamweaver will then let you change these "regions" on individual web pages derived from that template. At the same time, it will monitor any changes you make to the fixed portions on your template and give you the option to automatically update all your web pages if you change anything there.

For more information about Dreamweaver templates, please read the main Dreamweaver tutorials first. Specifically, the use of Dreamweaver templates is taught in chapter 7 of the Dreamweaver CS4 tutorial, How to Use Dreamweaver CS4's Templates to Manage and Auto-Update Multiple Pages on Your Website, and chapter 5 in the Dreamweaver CS3 tutorial, How to Use Templates to Manage Your Website in Dreamweaver CS3.

As a result of learning this, newcomers to Dreamweaver sometimes (unnecessarily) look for ways to put meta tags like the meta description tags and even the title tag into an editable region.

How Dreamweaver Regards the Meta Tags and the Title Tag

The reason my Dreamweaver tutorials do not teach you how to make the meta tags and the title tags into editable regions in your Dreamweaver template is that you don't need to.

Dreamweaver automatically allows you to set custom title tags and meta tags for any page derived from a template. Like you, the developers of the web editor probably realised that everybody wants such tags to be unique for each page, and that it would be meaningless to have them controlled by the template.

As such, there's no need to insert them into your template at all, let alone make them editable. In fact, depending on how you do things, inserting meta description tags into your template might even result in your having duplicate meta description tags in your web page (one copied from your template, and one when you set it for your current document using the Dreamweaver's menu). So don't bother.

In other words, when you need a meta description tag (or some other meta tag) for a particular web page, simply set it when you're working on that page itself. There's no need to touch your template file to get support for the tag. These tags are automatically allowed on any web page, whether or not you put them in your template.

If you're not sure how to set a meta tag, please see the article How to Insert Meta Tags to Your Site in Dreamweaver. That article applies to pages created from templates as well as pages not managed by Dreamweaver's template system.

Copyright © 2010 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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