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Myth: Meta Keywords are used by Search Engines

Google have now made it simple

For some time it has been the policy within Google to not use the Meta Keywords tag as an indicator of page relevance or within it's calculations of page ranking. In order to emphasise the point both Google and the head of their anti-spam team Matt Cutts went as far as to make a specific announcement on this issue, stating that "Google doesn't use the 'keywords' meta tag in our web search ranking".

Yahoo! is still confused

Yahoo's support is notoriously difficult to pin down, although they do read the Meta Keywords tag and will use it where no other factors are available, it is given the lowest value possible.In a reply to a Search Engine Land article showing that Yahoo did still use the Meta Keywords tag in their results (which was a follow up to an article on Yahoo's announcement that they no longer used the Meta Keyword tag in their results - confused?), Yahoo stated:

"What changed with Yahoo's ranking algorithms is that while we still index the meta keyword tag, the ranking importance given to meta keyword tags receives the lowest ranking signal in our system.

Words that appear in any other part of documents, including the body, title, description, anchor text etc., will take priority in ranking the document ? the re-occurrence of these words in the meta keyword tag will not help in boosting the signal for these words.  Therefore, keyword stuffing in the keyword tag will not help a page's recall or ranking, it will actually have less effect than introducing those same words in the body of the document, or any other section.

However, when no other ranking signal is present, unique words that only appear in the meta keyword tag section of documents can still be used to recall these documents."

Bings approach is a compromise

Bing claim that the Meta Keywords tag is still of importance, and as they are increasingly responsible for supplying Yahoos search data, it will presumably remain relevant to Yahoo search results as well. In Bings Webmaster Central they describe use of the meta keywords tag like this:

"The meta tag's keyword attribute is not the page rank panacea it once was back in the prehistoric days of Internet search. It was abused far too much and lost most of its cachet. But there's no need to ignore the tag. Take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit, even when the payoff is relatively low. Fill in this tag's text with relevant keywords and phrases that describe that page's content"

Should you worry about the Meta Keyword tag?

Our approach is simple and complies with our concept of Responsible Web Marketing, use the Meta Keywords tag as it was designed to be used if you want to. We often find it a great way of keeping track of the topics a piece of content covers, so use it as an internal content organisation device. Don't waste time trying to cram it full of cunning words and phrases, or expect that anything you put in their will have an impact on your position within the search results on any search engine.

If you like our approach or would like to discuss this or any other topic with us further, just contact Appropriate Solutions for a no obligation discussion of how we can help you make the most of your web presence.