It’s time to stop the madness! Keywords Meta Tags are not used by Google or Bing. But wait, what about other places like Amazon Store?
Google does not use the keywords meta tag when ranking a website. It used to, but it doesn’t any more.
We’ve been approached several times over the years by companies wanting us to fix or enhance their meta keywords tag. Thankfully, for the clients sake, they came to us to ask rather than some other SEO Company who probably would have gladly taken their money.
Google cares less about the keywords tag and more about the content on your page.
A Quick Search Engine History Lesson
Back in 1995, Google still wasn’t even a research project. At this point in history, AltaVista and Infoseek were two of the Internet’s dominant search engines. While SEO was virtually unheard of during this time, a small but passionate community started focusing on ways to improve how well their websites or clients’ websites ranked in these search engines.
Because search engine technology was still in its infancy, both AltaVista and Infoseek relied heavily on the keyword meta tag to determine what a specific web page was about. As SEO practitioners quickly found out, those search engines relied so heavily on this specific keyword tag that it was possible to rank for searches simply by putting the target phrase in the keyword meta tag.
That realization lead to some of the earliest forms of Internet spam. For example, an online casino that wanted more traffic would add a popular search term like “Friends” to the meta keyword tag on one or more of their pages. While the casino had nothing to do with this popular TV show, this simple trick could allow them to rank highly and bring in more traffic due to people searching for the show.
Since it didn’t take long for the keyword meta tag to be widely abused, both old and new search engines relied less on this element to determine their rankings. Thanks to Google’s complex algorithm and rise to dominance, they announced all the way back in 2009 that this factor was no longer being considered at all.
While the keyword meta tag no longer has any practical use, there are still plenty of unscrupulous SEO providers that charge money for this useless “service.”
At Big Red SEO, we’ve had plenty of Omaha businesses come to us and ask why they’re not ranking despite paying for SEO services. And after evaluating their site, we often discover that their lack of rankings is due to the individual or company they paid doing nothing other than “optimizing” their keyword meta tags.
Can't I Use Keywords To Manipulate Rankings?
There’s no quick and dirty way to modify a keyword meta tag and suddenly be at the top of Google. If there was, people could pretty much do that themselves and not need an SEO company to begin with.
The truth of the matter is that the keyword tag actually has no effect on the rankings of a page in the search engine results.
The only thing that the keyword tag is good for these days is to help you keep the content of the page on track for the specific keywords that you’re trying to target.
The keyword meta tag is really only beneficial if you are doing searches within your own site using your own search engine or software to generate the results.
In the case of a shopping cart for instance, entering keywords on a specific product can help guide your visitors toward the product that they’re looking for. In many ways, the search box on your site can be treated as a trusted source, as you’re not trying to influence Google and Bing or other public search engines with the results.
When it comes to Google however, they don’t even look at the keyword meta data as it’s very easy for someone to enter a word and manipulate the results. Instead, search engines actually look at the content of the page.
So Why do SEO's Focus Their Efforts on Keywords?
When an SEO Company asks you about what keyword you want your site to display for, that’s different than keyword meta data. In this case, they’re actually tracking rankings and optimizing content on the website, however any good, reputable, SEO Company will stay away from the keywords meta tag.
Meta tags, for the most part, are hidden from public view and not displayed on the page to a user. You can see the tags however if you look at the source code, so it’s not truly hidden.
When an SEO company talks about keywords, they’re actually looking to write an article, or spin content on your page that includes some of the keywords that you want to rank for. As long as this isn’t overdone, this is a legitimate way to help visitors find the content on the site that you want them to find, and in turn, search engines will rank the page higher than other pages (provided you meet other search factors).
If a search engine optimization company says that they’re going to optimize your meta data to help get you the number one position on a search engine, they’re pretty much blowing smoke.
Back when I first started in SEO (back in the 90’s), you actually could manipulate rankings based on the keywords meta tag. but, like most things in the SEO world, people take things to the extreme, and search engines took notice. It wasn’t long after that search engines ignored the meta tag completely. There’s just no way to do that these days.
Do I Need Keyword Meta Tags on My Page?
The harsh truth is no, you do not need keyword meta tags.
People still use the keywords for the internal searches on sites, but search engine crawlers no longer take them into account.
Sadly, you’ll still find “technical SEO” reports from companies that will give you a low grade and tell you that you need meta keywords. Many of those online site review places are using outdated techniques in order to try and get you to hire them to fix things. Just don’t fall for it.
We’ve written several articles on the tag over the years as people continue to say it’s needed, but here’s a few places that clearly state it’s not used:
- September, 2009 Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking – Matt Cutts – Google Search Quality Team – Google Webmaster Help
- Meta Keywords: What They Are and How They Work – WordStream
- How Important Are Keywords Meta tags For SEO in 2017 – YouTube Video by Conor Treacy (Big Red SEO)
But Some SEO Meta Tags Are Still Used Right?
Oh, definitely. There are a number of different meta tags still used in web ranking today that you should definitely use in your site.
When it comes to the keyword meta tag, Google had made it explicitly clear for years now that this tag has absolutely zero effect on search engine rankings. So if anyone ever tries to sell your Omaha business on a service like keyword meta tag optimization for SEO, you can feel completely confident telling them no.
Although Big Red SEO and the rest of the online marketing community that actually keeps up with the industry said goodbye to the keyword meta tag long ago, that doesn’t mean all meta tags are useless.
Things like the Title Element or the Meta Description tag are used by search engines all the time. While they don’t have any direct ranking influence, they do show to the person searching, and it’s this information usually that they would use to determine if they click on your site or a competitor.
The title tag is responsible for the text that’s displayed at the top of a browser window or tab. And while they may modify the exact phrase that’s displayed, the title tag is also used by Google to supply the text displayed in the blue link they include in their search results.
Google also uses the meta description in their search engine results. Even though they don’t always display it exactly, this tag generally makes up the text that’s displayed below a link on a search engine results page.
Since Google does actually utilize both of these tags, they serve two key purposes. The first is helping with rankings. While neither tag is the most important factor for SEO, they do still help Google understand what a page is about. The other reason they’re important is they can increase the number of searchers who click a specific link on a page of results.
Even though people often think that getting on the first page of Google is 100% of the battle, it’s important to remember that you’re still competing with nine other relevant results plus several ads. By implementing the tips below, you can make your listing stand out from all the others.
5 Tips for Effective Title & Meta Description Tags
Because your business can gain real benefits by optimizing the title and meta description tags throughout the pages of your business website, here are five tips to help ensure you’re writing the most effective ones possible:
- Keep the length of every title tag to 55 characters or less. Sticking to this rule will ensure your titles display properly at least 95% of the time.
- Keep the length of every meta description tag to 140 characters or less. Not going past this length will prevent your descriptions from being cut off.
- Use a page’s target keyword in both the title tag and meta description tag. However, avoid tricks like repeating the keyword multiple times in either tag.
- When you’re writing either tag, focus on giving people searching Google a compelling reason to click your listing instead of any of the others that are on the same page.
- In cases where it makes sense, add your business phone number to the title tag and/or meta description tag.
Contact Big Red SEO Today!
If an SEO firm is telling you that part of the fee you’re paying to them is to optimize your keyword meta data, it’s time to find a new firm.
Meta tags are good, as they help keep your site on track, but the keyword meta tag is no longer needed.
Whether you need help optimizing some of your website’s pages, want to add more content to your site or can’t figure out why your site isn’t ranking as well as you think it should, your Omaha business deserves a trusted SEO partner.
If you want to work with a company that’s built a reputation in Omaha for quality work and getting real results, Big Red SEO is who you want to talk to about SEO. Call us today at (402) 522-6468 to discuss your current SEO goals and challenges.