Keywords Meta Tag

If you have done any research/studing of search engine optimization you will have heard of keywords and the keywords meta tag. There’s lots of information and opinions on how to use this meta tag. Some of this is hear say some is backed up by facts. Here we’ll present the facts.

What is the Keywords Meta Tag?

Before getting into the facts, for the benefit of those of you who are new to SEO (search engine optimization), the keywords tag is a meta tag located in the head of your web page/blog post.

When examining your web page source code, you will see a line similar to this:


<meta name="Keywords" content="Your set of keywords for the page">

Where it says “Your set of keywords of the page” above is where you are to put keywords/phrases your target audience would type in the search box when looking for the subject of your web page. Putting keywords not included in the page is considered keyword stuffing (see next section).

Keywords Meta Tag Abuse

In the beginning the keywords meta tag was abused by marketers. They would do what is called “keyword stuffing” to try and manipulate the search engine results. Keyword stuffing is when the list of keywords/key phrases are not related to the actual content within the web page. The major search engines and directories figured this out and adjusted their indexing methods to compensate for this trickery.

Google Doesn’t Use the Keywords Meta Tag in Web Search

On September 22, 2009 Google officially stated on their Official Google Webmaster Central Blog that Google does not use the meta keywords data in your web pages for their web search analysis.

“…we received some questions about how Google uses (or more accurately, doesn’t use) the “keywords” meta tag in ranking web search results….

…At least for Google’s web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag in our web search ranking….”

Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking

Note the reference web search ranking. They don’t say they don’t use the keyword meta tag for everything.

Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?

“About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.”

Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking under the questions section

Does this mean that Google will always ignore the keywords meta tag?

“It’s possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it’s unlikely. Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.”

Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking under the questions section

Note the phrase above It’s possible that Google could use this information in the future. They are leaving the door open to change their mind.

Why Did Google Officially Make this Statement?

Matt Cutts, Search Quality Team clears this up:

“…To this day, you still see courts mistakenly believe that meta tags occupy a pivotal role in search rankings. We wanted to debunk that misconception, at least as it regards to Google….

Google doesn’t use the keywords meta tag in web search – on Matt Cutt’s blog.

How Does the Keyword Meta Tag Affect Other Seach Engines and Directories?

There are other search engines and directories that use the keyword meta tag. For example, Yahoo! uses it:

“Use a “keyword” meta-tag to list key words for the document. Use a distinct list of keywords that relate to the specific page on your site instead of using one broad set of keywords for every page.”

How do I improve the ranking of my web site in the search results? at Yahoo!

There are software applications that also use the keywords meta tag. e.g. Site search software

Should I use the Keyword Meta Tag or Not?

Just because Google has made a statement that the keywords meta tag is not considered in their search analysis for web search results doesn’t mean you should ignore this meta tag.

It may not affect your search results in the Google search engine results but it can affect your results in the “other” search engine and directory results.

Even though Google has stated the Keywords tag is not a consideration in ranking, we always include it as a best practice.

SEO 101: The 23-Point SEO Checklist – Bruce Clay Inc. June 21, 2012

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15 Responses to Keywords Meta Tag

  1. Czech Coder Says:

    Google Doesn’t Use the Keywords Meta Tag in Web Search – Well this is not proved…. Where are the facts???

  2. Robinson Says:

    It`s a lie that google don`t use Meta Tags. They are only set a small strength to them. I tried a lot on webpages and SEO and learn that google definitely use Metas. But only in combination with keywordstrength and other things.

  3. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    With due respect, did you read the quotation above and the link provided?

  4. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    The facts are provided in the quotation above and the link provided.

  5. SEO of India Says:

    Yes, this true, Google not using meta tag. But I think we should use it, not only google but also for other search engine. Hope in future google may consider meta tag again.
    Thanks for important point out.

  6. Lenny Says:

    I have read the article telling that Google doesn’t take meta tags into consideration when ranking a particular website. I wonder whether bing is acting the same way?

  7. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    The following is from the Bing Community Webmaster’s Blog:

    So in a nutshell, written in the form of naturally spoken language, use your keywords in the following areas for the greatest impact:

    Page title (inside the tags)
    Body text headers (as used within tags such as , , and so on)
    Links to other pages (the link text between the tags)
    Meta tags (specifically when used with the name=”description” and the name=”keyword” parameters)

    Put your keywords where the emphasis is (SEM 101) – Bing May 20, 2009

    Sooo, if they are telling you to use the meta keywords tag I would think it has some value in the analysis of your site.

  8. Search Engine Optimisation Says:

    Meta Keyword tags should not be ignored when it comes to optimising the site. Although Google don’t take them into account, I’m fairly confident others will. Not only that but when running things like link building campaigns they tie in very nicely using those key terms and optimising header tags to match also.

  9. Donnie Lee Says:

    Personally, I’ve always used them. It’s just good form. I’m pretty sure that sites like Technorati uses them and they help other content aggregation sites categorize your content. Not to mention that software like WordPress uses them to create a “tag cloud” or map of your content onsite.

  10. John Riggs Says:

    I always use the keyword meta tag. It’s easy to do and I’ve never seen a downside. Why do some folks think that Google ignores them completely? I sense that Google evaluates the keywords and the page content.

    John

  11. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    Because people miss that Google said they don’t use keywords for web search. They didn’t specifically say they don’t use them for other stuff. (wink)

Keywords Meta Tag Was Mentioned Here:

  1. Include the Keywords Meta Tag - Learn Something New Every Day –V7N's SEO Tip of the Day
  2. Are Meta Keywords Useful?
  3. Add a Meta Description Tag
  4. Impact of the Number of Keywords on SEO

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