RIP Keywords Meta Tag

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Meta Tags Death
(image from DynamiX Web Design)

Although SEO may be on your mind all day, every day, for the average person, this acronym has no meaning. While the most common response you will receive when asking an average person if they have ever heard of SEO is a blank stare, in the event that they have heard of SEO before, they will probably say something along the lines of “oh yeah, that thing where you can put keywords in tags to get more Google traffic.”

It’s unfortunate that there is so much misunderstanding among the general public about SEO, but it should come as no surprise when you take into account the number of “SEO providers” who are still peddling some form of a SEO package that involves “search engine submissions” and “keyword meta tag optimization.”

Although I think it would be foolish to assume that people will stop using these worthless methods to sell their “services” to unknowing clients, I am glad to see that Google has finally put the nail in the coffin of the keywords meta tag. Yesterday, they made a post on Official Google Webmaster Central Blog titled “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking.” Instead of beating around the bush, I was glad to see them come out with a post title that literally cannot be misinterpreted. Here are the key takeaways from this post:

Q: Does Google ever use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking?
A: In a word, no. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has the ability to match meta tags, which could include the keywords meta tag. But that’s an enterprise search appliance that is completely separate from our main web search. 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.

Q: Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?
A: No, Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. For example, we do sometimes use the “description” meta tag as the text for our search results snippets. Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

If you are looking for a simple way to explain this information to someone who isn’t involved in the SEO world, I recommend this straight forward two minute video from Matt Cutts (which was also included in the post).

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