Search Engine Optimization and Marketing for E-commerce

It's official...Google Ignores the Keywords META Tag

by Andrew Kagan 21. September 2009 11:31

Google officially announced today that it does not use the META Keywords tag at all in its search rankings. While it certainly did use this META tag earlier in the search engine wars 5-10 years ago, the tag has lost all relevance (to Google) because of rampant spamming and abuse of this tag.

The META Keywords tag was part of the "essential" hidden META data that search engines originally relied on when indexing pages. It provided a shortcut repository in which to list all the search words a webmaster felt were relevant to the webpage they appeared on. Like all META data, the keywords were embedded in the HEAD area of the webpage and were invisible to everyone except the search engines themselves.

META Keywords had significant value before search engines had the capacity to read, parse and index the entire content of every page they visited. For a time, it was believed that properly crafted keywords added to the overall relevance and ranking of a page, when they were in close agreement with the page content itself, but Google is slamming the door on that notion moving forward.

Google hastened to clarify that not all META data is "bad" or "ignored", and took pains to remind everyone that they still use the "Description" META tag in search results, when it is the best content summary of the page itself. A good META description is still very important to SEO, because when properly written and displayed in search results, it provides additional information to the user that may influence their likelihood of clicking through on a link. Without this description, you are leaving it up to the search engine to try to find the sentence that best synopsizes the page, and the results are usually poor when this happens.

So, from the horse's mouth, don't bother with the Keywords META tag, and focus your SEO skills on the Description tag instead.

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