The Final Word On Meta Keywords
For years we’ve been telling people that the meta keywords tag that appears on almost every website has no impact at all on your search engine ranking. And yet we keep getting, hearing, and seeing queries about this most misunderstood of all meta tags.
Now, finally, we can lay this debunked but enduring meta tag myth to rest. Google, via Matt Cutts and the official Google Blog, has officially announced their approach to the meta keywords tag.
Google Does Not Use Keywords
Apparently, Google has been receiving a recent spate of queries about the relevance of the keywords tag. We can only imagine that, tired of answering these questions on a regular basis, Google has decided to make their take official and public.
In his Google blog post, made earlier this week, Matt Cutts, of the Google Search Quality Team , said, “Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.”
Why Keyword Tags Are Irrelevant
According to Mr. Cutts, there was a time when search engines did pay attention to keywords, and disregarded any off-page factors, like links pointing to a page. That was about ten years ago. But, people being what they are, the meta keywords tag quickly got abused by people stuffing high ranking, but irrelevant, keywords into it.
Those keywords were almost never seen by visitors, but they were quite effective at manipulating search engine results for a while. Because it was abused so badly, Google stopped paying any attention to them.
Are All Meta Tags Useless Then?
Not according to Matt Cutts. Google does pay attention to some tags. Google understands the description and title tags, as well as the meta names tags, which define language, robot behaviour, and verification data. It also understands the tag that defines content type and character set.
It doesn’t pay much attention to most of them, but it does understand them. Actually, according to his post, Google doesn’t even always use your description tag for the snippet that appears on the search engine results.
He concludes by saying that it’s possible that Google could use the information in the keywords tag in the future, but he wouldn’t count on it. Google, he says, has ignored the keywords tag for years, and he can’t see why they’d change their mind.
On The Other Hand
It’s probably worth noting however, that Microsoft has said that it’s search engine, Bing, does still use meta tags. Yahoo, their partner, has not commented on its stance.