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Where Google Stands on the “Keywords” Meta Tag

To Sum it Up, They Ignore it

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Google does not use the "keywords" meta tag in its web search ranking. Google’s Matt Cutts explains this in a Webmaster Central video. This is not breaking news, by any means, but there are a lot of people out there that still put a lot of stock into this.

In fact, Cutts mentions that people have sued each other for meta tag keyword theft, when really this is just a waste of everybody’s time, because they don’t even play a role in the ranking of sites on Google. Have you been under the impression that the keywords meta tag was important to ranking in Google? Comment here.

"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," says Cutts. "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."

Just because Google ignores the "keywords" meta tag, that doesn’t mean it ignores all meta tags. In fact, there are several that the search engine definitely uses. For one, Google sometimes uses the "description" meta tag as the text for search results snippets. But even then, the "description" meta tag isn’t used to influence ranking.

Description Meta tag

Google also recognizes the "google," "robots," "verify-v1," "content type," and "refresh" meta tags. Information about how Google understands these can be found at this page in the Webmaster Tools help center.

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

So the moral of the story is, if a competitor is jacking your keywords, and using them in their own "keywords" meta tag, this will have no effect whatsoever in how they rank in Google when compared to your site. Cutts says other search engines might use the information, but Google doesn’t.

Google does note that its enterprise Search Appliance has the ability to match meta tags, but this is of course separate from Google web search.

As I have said before, these videos and other tips Google frequently gives out are worth paying attention to for any webmaster looking to rank well. Whether they’re talking about duplicate content, meta tags, or paid links, they’re all aimed at telling webmasters how it is, and clarifying any misconceptions to the contrary. Whether you agree with Google’s methods in all cases or not, the tips are for your benefit.

Like it or not, Google controls what people find on the web when they search. The company’s huge market share is just something that is. There is always the possibility that could change in the future, but at this point, it looks like webmasters are not going to be able to ignore Google for a long time, if they hope to be found on the web by searchers.

We realize (and Google surely does too) that many well-seasoned marketers already know that Google ignores the "keywords" meta tag, but webmasters are born everyday, and not all of them have been so heavily seasoned to this point, and that’s why Google puts this information out there. There is always misinformation (particularly when it comes to search), and sometimes the record just has to be set straight. Who better to do that than Google itself?

Do you find Google’s Webmaster Central videos useful or do you think they’re mostly just retreads of things you already know? Share your thoughts here.

Where Google Stands on the “Keywords” Meta Tag
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  • http://www.brain-waves-technology.com/ Brain Waves Technology

    Meta Tags were not made for Google its up to Google on what tags to use, your page rank will not be effected if you use

    What about other search engines such as

    Yahoo
    mozilla/5.0 (compatible; yahoo! slurp/3.0; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)

    Bing (MSM)
    msnbot/2.0b (+http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm)

    What do we know about them do they use

    I would NOT take this tag out just because Google doesn

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

    This gets 66!!!! Comments!!!

    Who TF cares? If you want a keyword. PUT IT ON THE PAGE

    AND GET A LIFE

    • http://www.sitebyjames.com James

      And 128 retweets!!!!

  • Guest

    Meta Tags Are Important I Use It For My Page

    http://www.moshta.com

  • http://www.homebis-publishers.com Ulysse

    It is right to tell to everybody again and again, that keywords are not the ace for best ranking. Many other factors count as articles posts, web 2.0 properties and always direct back linking.
    Don’t forget perseverance!
    Regards. Ulysse

  • http://www.vicktrade.com Guest

    Hmm. I don’t know it before this article. I always think meta tag is very important for getting a high ranking…

  • http://www.primerealadstate.com/ sanju

    I think we should regularly change content of websites so that google often visit site and it will be helpful to bring the site on 1st page of google.

  • http://omikronmedia.com/about-us Mike

    The keywords meta-tag is only a small portion of actually applying keywords to an SEO campaign.
    And even though Google might not use them in their rankings, others do; so it’s worth putting them in there.

  • Guest

    I guess by habit I still use keywords – extra money in your spare time

  • http://www.ethnobotanicals.com/Kratom.html kratom

    They probably are used by some other search engines. How long does it take to add them to your site? Use them.

    • http://www.pilotfishseo.com Angela Charles

      Yahoo isn’t using meta keywords either: http://searchengineland.com/yahoo-search-no-longer-uses-meta-keywords-tag-27303. But, we use them on client sites as a way to organize the content. It helps us to easily be able to see what terms we’ve optimized for on any given page, even though the search engines aren’t using the tag.

      I hope folks don’t get the impression that because the meta keywords tag isn’t used that keywords are irrelevant. Here’s an article on the difference: http://www.pilotfishseo.com/meta_keyword_tag_vs_keywords.asp

  • http://forbrukslan1.net Kredittkort

    I remember back in the day when you could do a lot of SEO with the keywords only.. No point in doing`em anymore, though. I really dont understand why people keep using them when Google ignores them anyway. I guess you could focus on MSN and Yahoo (I believe they`re still using meta), but the main source for traffic is for most of us Google. So why bother…

  • http://www.kanjartube.com http://www.kanjartube.com

    http://www.kanjartube.com

    desi girls pics and vdosss of @$$$$

  • http://www.mouse-mat.com Mouse

    Personally i don’t ever quite believe everything google says. Secondly just because google say they don’t use them doesnt mean that everyone else doesnt.

    If the ability is there to use them i say use them… It takes little effort really and certainly does no harm.

  • http://www.thegreenshotel.com Guest

    We’re not currently using tags, but will be adding them to our website for the Greens hotel in Sacramento. Hopefully they will help.

  • http://www.qtriangle.in Guest

    We must use them, because you never know which search site considers them important.
    I have used it my sites such as

    http://www.qtriangle.in

    http://www.economichosting.net

    I have used keywords like cheap web hosting, web designing, domain registrations very liberally.
    And I think they have helped me a lot.

  • Makx

    Incorrect use of Keywords will not be of any use with Google, and with other SE’s for that matter. This is what Matt Cutts tries to mention. No news really. On the whole Meta information is very important, also Keywords.

  • Guest

    I am getting emails from someone claiming that search results for ” sexy fashion lingerie ” producing http://www.playtimefashions.com at the top of the results violates their domain name of ……sexyfashionlingerie.com….. They seem to think that I can control Google digging into my pages and pulling from my descriptions and page content.

  • http://imkon.webs.com Guest

    If Google does not consider meta tags as important then why are they so particular on duplicates in meta tag descriptions? Why take the trouble to inform and suggest we take care of it? For newbies like me, using free web hosting, means limited access to meta tag description alteration, hence having the same set of meta tags for the several pages on a site is beyond us.Why the harassment?

  • http://www.allpills4u.net/ Andy Obrian

    in our industry it’s so hard to promote the sites that help so many pepole!
    my last site : www.allpills4u.com

    please rview and send your adivce how can i make the keywords meta tags better.
    my email: andy@allpills4u.com or my site www.allpills4u.com

  • http://robotsdeforex.blogspot.com Forex Robots

    I suspect I am not alone not are using that…
    I will consider using Metas as a time loss!

  • http://www.salsadirect.co.uk http://www.salsadirect.co.uk

    I am currently studying SEO with a Google recommended Adwords advisor,
    with regard to my site and have been told that meta Keywords DO count, and particularly with reference to how often they are mirrored in your site content

  • http://www.GreensladeCreations.com/ Amanda Greenslade

    It is understandable that Google has had to ignore keyword meta tags for the past few years, and even though I knew about this, it is always good to get the background information. A well written article like this really helps new website developers and it serves as a good reminder to veterens as well.

    The moral of the story is, I think, set up the keyword meta tags, as it only takes a few seconds, but know that they do not have much influence on how most of the SERPs will rank your page.

  • http://www.freewarebb.com Freeware

    It’s really no surprise on this front, but the problem most of us webmasters have is keeping on top of what’s relevant and what’s not. It seems that each week the search engines change their methods because of abuse of simply because they can, meaning what’s in one week is out the next!

  • http://techinfocus.blogspot.com techinfocus

    I think Meta Keyword is not a big deal rather than Meta description. Because We will alter our descriptions(meta) for our required Keywords. Thats the matter…

  • Guest

    You forgot about meta Content-Language! Meta tags are not just for Google you know. And you can’t deny iso-8859-1 can be many different languages. I’ve experimented with this and found Google is influenced by it. The world is not all English!

  • Guest

    The problem with most is they design for Google instead of for the human visitor. Don’t get me wrong, search engines are super important, but Google is only one search engine with a business plan that does not have much to do with search. I include titles on my Web pages because all browsers and search engines will present them. I include the Meta Description because Google and all other major search engines use and present them and I know that when I do this right, my Meta Description will be displayed rather than their snippet. The Meta Description is ALSO used in Firefox and Opera (don’t use IE) when you “bookmark” the page. I don’t even have to say why it’s important for the Meta Charset or Meta Content-Language.

    When I view a Web site’s source and I see the Meta Keywords tag, I don’t automatically assume they are stupid because no major search engine uses the Meta Keywords tag. Instead I assume they might be using Google’s expensive search appliance on their site OR maybe using an internal crawler and the Meta Keywords are used for their internal purposes or to help present better results for the people using a site search option.

    The fact is, all Meta Tags were created for a specific purpose. Just because Google doesn’t use something doesn’t mean they are not important. Google isn’t everything and you should NEVER write Web pages for any search engine specially Google.

    Yahoo! didn’t purchase Inktomi, Overture, AltaVista and others because running a search engine makes money. The truth is, no search engine makes money. Search engines were used to gather traffic and every effort was used to convert that traffic into some kind of paying customer. Disney who purchased go.com (used to be a web search engine) quickly found out how expensive this is and defunct the search. Infoseek and many others also failed and the reason is they didn’t have anything else to sell. Yahoo! made all these purchases ONLY for the traffic AND in April of this year made an agreement with MSN (Bing) to supply their search results! But Yahoo! bought all this great technologies from the biggest internet search providers and engines on the Net! In fact, the technology Yahoo! purchased is light years ahead of Google’s 14 year old PageRank search engine. But Yahoo! is dumping all this and going to let MSN Bing do it. Why? Because a search engine is expensive and takes a lot of resources.

    Google has found ways to make money. They convinced all of us to put Adsense (which they did not develop) on our Web pages and we bought into that. I couldn’t believe how people were willing to give up their potential customer to Google, but people did! Then Google convinced us to use their Analytics (which they also purchased) telling us how great this is. And let us not forget their Google Toolbar! Google purposely included a PageRank option in their Toolbar in an effort to create a lot of BUZZ and so people would use their Toolbar over all others. All this was to make Google money and to collect as much information about the Internet population as they possibly can. They know what link you clicked on, what site you are visiting and even your spending habits. They know where you are geographically located (google maps, IP, cookies and your phone!).

    Google made an announcement recently stating they are going to purchase at least one business a month and they’ve been doing this month after month. They released their own phone in order to capture that market too. And what about their latest gadget called “Google Music”? Wow! Now Google wants to take over Apple’s iTunes too! And what about Google Apps services? Los Angeles just entered a $7.2 million deal with Google as Google tries to get a market share for office software from Microsoft.

    All I can say is Google is everywhere, but Google isn’t everything. I don’t use Google because I do not care for their business model (rich get richer) or their business practices. Instead I’ve lately been using Scrub The Web. As I recently read, if Google can’t steal it or buy it, they’ll destroy it! I agree with this statement. Google has taken on the entire world and is snatching up everything in its path. I think they call this “Big Brother”.

    Once Google convinces you to use their Chrome operating system, their Toolbar, Adsense, Adwords, Google Apps, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Gmail (which actually reads your email), Google phone, Google Music or anything else gobbled up by the giant, you’ll be wishing you didn’t make Google what they’ve become today. Google is evil and you should be concerned!

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