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But I don't think it does. I have a site that was doing well for the search term "Widget Offers" by having that phrase in the TITLE, H1, body of the site, etc.
However, it wasn't until I made "Widget Offers" the first META Keyword that Google then put me at first place. Great!
So I contend that Google actually DOES take notice of your META Keywords, but only when the rest of your site fulfils their criteria.
Index Content Features
As with the public Google search engine, the Appliance tracks anchor text and links to and from pages. Unlike the public version, it also indexes all meta fields in HTML files, including author, description, keywords, generator (inserted by some HTML editors), and Dublin Core tags.
> Search engines now focus on indexing text that is visible on the page because the "invisible text" in meta tags was abused in the past (repetition and relevancy) and is viewed with suspicion. Nonetheless, I recently asked AltaVista, FAST AllTheWeb, Google and Lycos about using meta tags, and only one said it ignores them.
> AltaVista said developing proper meta tags is important, and that it uses titles, descriptions and keywords in its ranking algorithm. FAST said it looks for meta descriptions, and if none are found it examines the first 250 characters on the page. Google said it looks at the keyword and description meta tags, but they're not a major ranking factor. Lycos said it doesn't use meta tags but won't penalize for them, either.
Oh, I can see it now, webmasters are racing to insert those meta keywords tags back into their <head>s. ;)
This isn't how I'm saying it works, though. If you put a word just in your Keywords tag, then I'm quite sure that Google will ignore it.
What I am saying it that Google takes the keywords into account with the rest of the page - in a holistic manner, if you will. So if your page contains "Widget Offers" in the TITLE and headings and page text, then having that same phrase in your Keywords will help.
It may help but very little. I do not think it alone would account for your first place ranking, even for a non-competitive keyword.
Do you remember what your page rank was before the update?
Then check it against your current page rank.
I am guessing that your page rank increased and that it what is helping you.
2) Google originally did use keyword tags.
Those two factors lead me to believe they do LOOK at them. I doubt they do much of anything. Put them in - leave them out - it won't matter 99.9% of the time is my theory.
Calum believes they use them when nothing else is present for them to latch onto.
Oh and I agree - there is little proof here that this has occured.
Pagerank was 5 and remains at 5.
Number of inward links remains the same (low).
I find it interesting that people are trying to come up with any other theory other than that - where applicable - Google will take Keywords into account. Satanclaus has had a similar experience, and pageoneresults quotes Paul Bruemmer as saying that Google admits that it indexes Keywords, but they are not a major ranking factor.
They may not be major, but I am quite sure they made the difference between me having a top 10 position (before the change) to the number 1 position (after the change).
I've yet to find any credible alternative answer ... but I'm still listening!
That is a conclusive and fairly accurate way of testing it out, even though there are sure to be other factors such as algorithm change.
Be sure to report your findings back here :)
Some move up and down month to month for no clearly understandable reason. PR does change month to month and even if none of the pages above or below you changes their content AND their PR looks the same - rankings can and do still change.
Keywords are almost last thing I worry about. Others that have been successful with the search engines probably have had the same experience.
One of the things that have helped me most with google is trying to think like them.
WWGD=What Would Google Do?
Would they rely on keywords when they do not need to (it doesn't make pages more relevant)?
No one I can think of would suggest keywords are useful in ranking a public database. Therefore, I would think google doesn't use them to any great extent.
I have read many things about google - some are even myths I have PROVEN incorrect with spreadsheets. Depite this - you will always hear tons of opinions.
It COULD be that google did rate your page higher, but I would bet money it is due to almost any other factor besides that.
It is kind of like submitting - despite time after time showing that submitting is all but useless, some people REFUSE to believe and continue submitting to google. Either way it won't matter much.
In either case - it may have appeared - or even really did - help, but there are plenty of people who do VERY well without either and no measurable ill effects.
When in doubt - put them in. If you aren't sure than you shouldgo ahead and follow your instincts - it won't hurt you - except some of your time.
my 2 cents...
I use Meta keywords for all my sites. More so to rank on the other engines besides Google.
As for your page rank of 5...... I believe that Google rounds down. So if your previous page rank was 5.1 and now it is a 5.8 I think that you would still see a rank of 5. Maybe the others can dispute this theory.
>Your number of inbound links being the same.
If the page rank of one of your inbound links increased, so would your page rank. An "all boats rise with the tide" kind of thing.
Deep down I wish Meta keywords were the majic bullet but I am not convinced at this point.