Meta tags allow search engines to find, browse and catalog your site more efficiently. More importantly, it allows you to have CONTROL over how your site is indexed by forming keywords, descriptions and authorship,which the search engine saves and uses in forming the description that is seen by internet surfers.
The only other tool that I would recommend that you use alongside of meta tags is a robot txt file. This file tells teh search engine how often to return to your site for new updates and which pages are off limits for indexing. Some search engines tie higher and better placement with the COMBINATION of meta tags AND robot txt files.
Here are several meta tag generators which you can use for free. At least one is a script for a generator that you can add to your site! By adding this to your site, then listing it in search engines you will generating traffic and higher placement in search engines thereafter. Have fun.
http://www.anybrowser.com/MetaTagGenerator.html Moderator Pick
(install you own meta tag generator on YOUR site)