Google and the Keyword Meta-tag Myth

Google and the Keyword Meta-tag Myth

I have been telling clients and others for several years now that Google Does Not use the Keyword Meta-tag. Most of the time my proclamations have been met with scorn, disbelief and amusement. :)

Google themselves have repeatedly said as much, but always in pretty obscure postings, or at SEO conferences. Well, today they finally posted a public statement on the Webmaster Central Blog what I already knew, and people have argued and debated for years. Google Does Not include the keyword tag in it’s ranking of websites.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Recently 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.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: Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?
A: 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.

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.

Q: Does this mean that Google will always ignore the keywords meta tag?
A: 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.

So, if you’re dealing with an “SEO Expert” or company which tells you they are “fine-tuning” your keyword meta-tag, fire their ass!  Click here to watch the video from Matt Cutts.

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Michael is a great resource for enhancing your website visibility and I have used him for a number of client projects. His advice and understanding of search engine optimization and web analytics is excellent. If you are looking for better results with your google searches he is your man.

Daniel Lamb
Elitebiz Consulting