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Google doesn't use the keywords meta tag in web search
marcel




msg:3993021
 6:32 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Probably there in the 'not news' section for WebmasterWorld, but it's official, "Google doesn't use the keywords meta tag in web search"

Recently we received some questions about how Google uses (or more accurately, doesn't use) the "keywords" meta tag in ranking web search results. Suppose you have two website owners, Alice and Bob. Alice runs a company called AliceCo and Bob runs BobCo. One day while looking at Bob's site, Alice notices that Bob has copied some of the words that she uses in her "keywords" meta tag. Even more interesting, Bob has added the words "AliceCo" to his "keywords" meta tag. Should Alice be concerned?

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 6:56 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2009]
[edit reason] fix character set display issue [/edit]

 

Kings on steeds




msg:3993027
 6:36 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

So after a heated debate in the office today, in which a silly colleague said Google had started listing ONLY for keywords that appear in meta keyword, I decided the best way to settle this would be to ask Matt Cutts to confirm it for me, so he did. in a BIG way!

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com ]

[edited by: tedster at 6:58 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2009]

HuskyPup




msg:3993077
 8:39 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hmmm..."Basically not at all" does not mean "absolutely not at all" in search ranking...note, "search" ranking, he then says "we don't use this information at all" and then "At least for Google we don't use that information in our rankings even the least little bit".

Am I getting mixed signals here or should someone have written this out correctly. He keeps specifying search ranking, is it possibly being used by G for another purpose?

With Bing on the up and maybe using keywords can one afford not to have them completed?

</devil's advocate>

tedster




msg:3993088
 8:47 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dear Devil's Advocate,

Matt is not reading from a script, he's talking off the cuff. He's also being very careful not to give any misunderstanding to the weakly informed, the terminally confused and the complete newbie.

This video was not created for the seasoned webmaster. As we already know, Google just doesn't look at the meta keywords tag and they haven't for many years.

Yours truly,
Someone who recently sold a lot of tinfoil stock

-------

With Bing on the up and maybe using keywords can one afford not to have them completed?

That's not a "maybe" I lose any sleep over. The same reasons that Google doesn't use meta keywords would also apply to Bing. It's just a really cloudy signal and IR today has many better tools at hand.

Robert Charlton




msg:3993115
 9:52 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Am I getting mixed signals here or should someone have written this out correctly. He keeps specifying search ranking, is it possibly being used by G for another purpose?

I would have thought Matt's statement and video would have been the end of this conversation, truly. It's a discussion that should have ended years ago. This is not just ancient history... it's a topic from back in the Pleistocene.

Matt explains why he specifies "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.

I don't think there's any ambiguity at all. For heaven's sake, let's move on!

But wait! I have seen Matt, in fact, use the keywords meta tag... when he's done a public site review and spots a stuffed keywords meta (or, for that matter, a stuffed comments tag). At that point, it's hard to miss that webmaster intent is manipulative, and Matt often makes a pretty funny comment about the type of site it is.

So, in a manual review, a stuffed meta keywords tag might add a subconcious negative to the minus side of the site's quality profile... but my guess is that in such sites Google has plenty of onpage and linking negatives already on the list.

tonynoriega




msg:3993121
 10:04 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

i recently (6 months ago) had a consulting company try to invade my SEO tactics...

one of their comments was: *slight geeky chuckle* "Hes not even using the meta keywords tag. That tag is basic SEO."

Basic SEO? or Old SEO? or as i like to call it "Worthless SEO"

mine as well submit my site to a million free directories while im at it.

Robert Charlton




msg:3993194
 12:38 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Am I getting mixed signals here or should someone have written this out correctly. He keeps specifying search ranking, is it possibly being used by G for another purpose?

PS: If you're worried that Google is spying on your meta keywords for another purpose, then don't use them at all. That makes it simple. There's clearly no compelling SEO reason to use them.

Leosghost




msg:3993205
 1:15 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

PS: If you're worried that Google is using meta keywords for another purpose, then don't use them at all. That makes it simple. There's clearly no compelling SEO reason to use them.

So if googles PR dept said they were no longer using meta descriptions for search we should all stop using them ..( because we belive PR :) and also infer that they are not using them for any other purpose ..and also ignore what other search engines may be doing now or may do in the future ..

or maybe we should just stop letting the tail wag the dog ..

and go back to making pages for users and not the plex ..or redmond ..and use all the tags ..

as opposed to those tags that are "google approved" or "not" or that "their friends" would like to have us believe are important or not to them and to us ..

spreading FUD is what search engines PR people do ..especially in relation to how one ranks organically ( in order to boost paid ads )..why echo it here ..

validation of pages is still determined by the w3c AFIAK ( unless google or microsoft have taken it over entirely ) ..so build your pages to validate ..

and ignore the matt behind the curtain ..and the whispers ..

jd01




msg:3993214
 1:27 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Uh, Duh... I mean really, DuuuuuuH!

(If a search engine hasn't advanced past the point of needing the webmaster to tell them what the 'keywords' on a webpage are, then they prolly aren't much of a search engine. IMO. Seriously, I'm just a lowly php coder and I can determine keyword density (also obsolete), which would seem a much greater indicator of the 'keywords' a visitor sees on a page rather than relying on a 'visitor invisible' tag to tell me, and I certainly hope a search engine can do a little better than me (to say the least) at making the determination of actual 'on page' keywords and topicality.)

Leosghost




msg:3993220
 2:03 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

The point is not do they need to be told via keywords tag what the subject of the page is ..

it is 1)..why should they dictate what and what is not in a page ..whether visible or invisible ..if it's valid markup.
and 2) why assume that because they say they dont ( wont ) use it for ranking in search ..that they dont ( wont ) use it for anything else ..

why beleive someone whose aims are diametrically opposite to your own aims ..about anything ..just because they say you can trust them ..

I'd rather make my own tests ..judge my own ( and others who are webmasters ..not search engine employees or their advocates )..evidence ..and base my actions upon that ..if the results sometimes fit with certain statements from the SE's then that does not mean that they are always telling the truth , nor does it mean that one should beleive that they are acting primarily in our interests when they make their pronouncements ..

unless of course one is a shareholder in an SE or have a connection with or an interest in speaking out for the search engines or an interest in ones clients believing that one is privy to how they work ..

anyone who begins to understand how they work certainly doesnt give away what they have discovered in public fora infested with search engine reps ( declared or otherwise ) and watched and posted in by their friends in order to elucidate what is known by the "webmasters" ..

Webmasters detailing their SEO strategy in earshot of the enemy ..SE's ..is
Uh, Duh... I mean really, DuuuuuuH!

Helping each other with CSS and scripts etc etc ..isnt :)

tedster




msg:3993233
 3:12 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

spreading FUD is what search engines PR people do

No argument that there's a dose of PR in many of Google's public statements. But this issue - the keywords meta tag - is something any SEO should have learned a LONG time ago. Not because Google says it's so, but by very simple testing.

There's no FUD here to my ear, no kool-aid to drink down. It's just an attempt to clarify a question that doesn't want to die its natural death.

jd01




msg:3993235
 3:20 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

1)..why should they dictate what and what is not in a page ..whether visible or invisible ..if it's valid markup.

They aren't to my understanding... I think you should feel free to waste the time, keystrokes and bandwidth necessary to use it. I personally don't, mainly because if I was building a Search Engine for my visitors rather than webmasters to evaluate I know there is another way (or ten) to find the 'point of the page' my visitors are looking for which seems more reliable than what the webmaster tells me in a basically 'hidden' tag, but I don't see anywhere or hear anyone saying not to use it...

As you said, 'It's valid markup.'
Have fun with it!

why beleive someone whose aims are diametrically opposite to your own aims

Uh, LMAO... Two Reasons:
1.) The Statement Makes Sense.

2.) I'm going 'Google Free' on my newest site...
It's written in AJAX, contains a 'noindex,nofollow,noarchive' tag and requires JavaScript to work at all.

Bye, Bye Search Engines.
Hello Marketing!

So, G and I are neither 'opposed' nor 'on the same team'. It's more like we're 'separated' from any type of 'dependency' on each other...

G doesn't have to worry about my site and how I choose to run it or what markup I use or whom I link to or what tags to count, and I don't have to worry about their site and how they choose to run it or what they choose to show in the results or what they choose evaluate for 'ranking purposes' or anything else.

The preceding stated, when I step back and evaluate the comments from an 'independent' perspective I tend to believe the statement.

See Also: Reason #1.

Aaron111




msg:3993268
 4:53 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

thanks for the tip .... in blogs in notice I tend to come up for large keywords in the serps ..... statcounter proved it fo r wp plug in on stats for word press... tags work... but some say tags will leak pr in google ... but tags are good in yahoo, MSN .. and others ..

FranticFish




msg:3993335
 8:42 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google say they don't use the description tag for ranking purposes but it does appear to be used as a quality indicator. Perhaps they also use keywords as a quality indicator - having said that though, they don't include a 'keyword tag warning' in Webmaster Tools.

sem4u




msg:3993346
 9:22 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google hasn't used the meta keywords tag for quality scoring for a good few years. This has been tested by myself and other SEOs; however, it is good to see that Google have provided guidance on the issue.

Leosghost




msg:3993360
 10:26 am on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

ŕjd01
may apologies for quoting myself because you seem to have missed this part
I'd rather make my own tests ..judge my own ( and others who are webmasters ..not search engine employees or their advocates )..evidence ..and base my actions upon that ..if the results sometimes fit with certain statements from the SE's then that does not mean that they are always telling the truth , nor does it mean that one should beleive that they are acting primarily in our interests when they make their pronouncements ..

apparently you do the same ..
The preceding stated, when I step back and evaluate the comments from an 'independent' perspective I tend to believe the statement.
so in instances when your evidence fits their statement you believe their statement and not just blindly accept what search engines tell you they are doing :)

our aims ( presumably )..get as much traffic as we can ( SEO )without having to buy ads ..

their aims ..sell as many ad slots as possible ..( anti SEO ) ..

= diametrically opposed

sonjay




msg:3993401
 12:02 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Most of us have known this for years. The best thing about the blog post is that it now gives us something to point to when clients (or potential clients) think that all there is to SEO is "putting all the right keywords in that meta tag thingie."

Clients always seem to have heard about the keywords meta tag from their [nephew¦son¦neighbor¦friend] who is "good with computers," but they never seem to want to believe me when I tell them there's a lot more to it than stuffing keywords in a tag.

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