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I used google.co.uk to look up the word "bisous", which a rather lovely young lady from Paris used at the bottom of an email to me. Turns out it means "kisses for a friend".
As with most searches I do these days I had a good close look at the top ten. All the top positions are definitions of the word in one form or another, but there at #8 was a British site selling Belgian chocolates made to look like a human @nus... Well it certainly caught my attention... Why was this site anywhere near this serp?
Looking at the source code it transpires that the word "bisous" is included in the meta-keywords. There's no inclusion of the word in the text on the page and nothing in backlinks that I can find.
Although I'm loathe to draw any firm conclusions, it does suggest that Google is paying some form of attention to the meta-keyword tag. As this tag is an obvious place to keyword-stuff it might merit another look at your tags. I actually went through my site a couple of weeks ago and reduced the content of the keyword tag to one word or a two-word phrase that best described the page at hand. I think this example serp justifies the effort that took.
Incidentally, that serp still stands at the time of writing if anyone wants to do any further research...
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:54 pm (utc) on Jun 30, 2012]
whether the time to write meta keywords provides enough benefit
that "bisous" page
Google may not use the keyword meta tag - but Bing does
A Spam Signal
I contacted [Bing's Duane] Forrester to ask if it was true, and to see what further answers he could provide. After some back and forth, it seemed clear to me that Bing is looking at the tag as a spam signal, not a ranking signal....
And his response was:
Yeah, you're pretty much bang on Danny. In fact, it's not like we're actively trying to encourage folks to start using the tag. And you're right – the scenario I describe is more of a spam signal, which ultimately leads to rankings (or not, as the case may be).
So use the tag? Sure, if you want to take a chance that by overstuffing it, you'll cause Bing to think you're spamming. Be safe, be smart, save your time. Don't use it.
[edited by: tedster at 12:17 am (utc) on Jul 6, 2012]
[edit reason] Add quote for attribution, Fair Use [/edit]
a chance that by overstuffing it, you'll cause Bing to think you're spamming
Bing is looking at the tag as a spam signal