Dynamically Create Meta Description Using ASP.NET

HTML “meta description” allows us to describe web pages with short and sometimes elaborated details. Descriptions written inside the <meta> tag, must always to specific and are often limited to very few characters. Using Asp.Net, we can easily create “meta” descriptions dynamically, through code behind procedures, describing the contents of the page.

We all know how important it is to use meta tags when you’re building an internet web site. Meta tags provide metadata about the HTML document. They are not rendered in the browser but are used by search engines to parse web pages. The following article demonstrates how to store meta tags for each page in an XML file and how to use LINQ to read the XML data and dynamically create meta tags for each page in your website.

Open Visual Studio 2008 and choose File > New > Web > ASP.NET Web Application.

Add a Master Page to the project. Once that is completed, add a Web Content Page and select the newly created Master Page as the Master Page.

The next step is to create a new folder in the web site to demonstrate all pages in the website will have dynamic meta tags at runtime. Right click the website and choose Add > New Folder. Name the new folder ChildFolder. After this add a new Web Content Page to this folder. Leave the default name as this is not important.

Now that we have two pages in different folders, it’s now time to create an XML file that contains the data for the meta tags. Right click the website and choose Add > New Item > XML File. Name the file TagData.xml and add the following XML:

 <tags pageName="/WebForm1.aspx">
    <tag name="keyword" value="This is a keyword"></tag>
    <tag name="description" value="This is a description"></tag>
    <tag name="author" value="malcolm sheridan"></tag>
 <tags pageName="/ChildFolder/WebForm1.aspx">
    <tag name="keyword" value="This is a keyword for the child pages"></tag>
    <tag name="description" value="This is a description for the child pages"></tag>
    <tag name="author" value="malcolm sheridan for this page too"></tag>

In the XML above I have created a parent node called metaTags. Inside I have created a tags node which contains a pageName attribute. That value is how we will match the current requested page to the XML data. Each tags node contains a tag node that corresponds to the meta data we want sent to the browser. In this example I want to set meta tags for the all the pages to have keyword, description and author meta tags, but the values rendered to the browser will differ depending on what page the user is on. In a real world scenario this information would be stored inside a database, but I decided to keep this data inside an XML file to keep it simple and focus on how to do this.

Having outlined what meta tags we want sent to the browser, we now have to write the code that will read the XML file and dynamically add the meta tags at runtime. Seeing as though we’re using Master Pages this is the ideal spot to add it. Add the following code to read the XML file:


XDocument doc = XDocument.Load(Server.MapPath("~/TagData.xml"));
var metaTags = doc.Descendants("tag")
              .Where(o => o.Parent.Attribute("pageName").Value == Request.Url.AbsolutePath)
               .Select(o => new
                    Value = o.Attribute("value").Value,
                    Name = o.Attribute("name").Value


Dim doc As XDocument = XDocument.Load(Server.MapPath("~/TagData.xml"))
Dim metaTags = doc.Descendants("tag").Where(Function(o) o.Parent.Attribute("pageName").Value = Request.Url.AbsolutePath).Select(Function(o) New With {Key .Value = o.Attribute("value").Value, Key .Name = o.Attribute("name").Value})

For flexibility and ease of use I have decided to use the power of LINQ to XML to read the XML data. To start with the XML document is load into an XDocument object. From there I have created a LINQ query to return all the tag nodes where the parent node has an attribute called pageName and the value is equal to the current page.   Then the object returned is an anonymous type that has a Value and Name property. The values of those properties are the value and name attribute values.

Now that we have the data in memory, the next step is to create the meta tag and add it to the page dynamically. To do this you use the HtmlMeta class. This allows you programmatic access to the HTML meta tags. Add the following code below to your project:


foreach (var item in metaTags)
     HtmlMeta meta = new HtmlMeta();
     meta.Name = item.Name;
     meta.Content = item.Value;


For Each item In metaTags
       Dim meta As New HtmlMeta()
       meta.Name = item.Name
       meta.Content = item.Value
Next item

The foreach loop enumerates through each item returned from the LINQ query. It assigns the Name and Content value to the HtmlMeta object. Finally the object is added to the page by calling Page.Header.Controls.Add(meta). Run the project and once the default page has loaded, view the HTML source and you’ll see the meta tags have been added to the website.


Browsing to the second page and viewing the HTML source, you’ll find the meta tags have been added to the page but they’re different values from the previous page.

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