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No More Meta Keywords Tag, No More Meta Description Tag … NOT!

Ok, so the news came out today over at Google about the fact that the Meta Keywords tag is not used for web rankings. Is that news? Not to those who have played a part in good SEO. Google hasn’t really used the Meta Keywords tag for rankings for years now. Does this mean we should no longer worry about that tag and can even remove it from all our web pages? Absolutely NOT!

Check the video report from Matt Cutts on this topic:

You can find the write-up at Google’s Webmaster Central: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

For years, my answer to the use of the Meta Keywords tag has always been:
“The keywords tag won’t help with your Google rankings but it will help you with your web page information. It’s a great tag to use to help remind you of your focus and the keywords you want to be sure to include on a particular page.”

Stop using it? Why?!! It doesn’t hurt anything but it may actually help YOU. That’s the main take away for the Google report. And…there is still question on it’s effectiveness in the other search engines such as Yahoo, MSN, Bing, so…!

I also strongly recommend that if you use the Meta Keywords tag that you use it appropriately. Here are the basic guidelines for the Meta Keywords tag that we’ve used for years and will continue to suggest to our clients.

Meta Keywords tag:

1. Length of content (36 + or – 12, repeat any word only 4 times).
2. Select keywords that are targeted for that specific page.
3. Put keywords in order from largest phrase to smallest, example: 3 word phrases, 2 word phrases, 1 words etc.
4. Again, if branding is important include the brand or website name as the last keyword.

All of the above items will remind you to not go crazy selecting keywords for a page, keep them focused, and be able to see how they may or may not fit together. The last one, on using your brand or website is also a reminder to not always say “We…” or something other than possibly your actual business name! – Again, all good reminders!!

Then, on top of this “news” on the Meta Keywords tag was a little blurb thrown in on the Meta Description tag. It was stated, “Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.”

Ok, there’s some dispute on the Meta Description tag’s ranking effects but that’s mainly because we actually see the Meta Description as part of a search snippet. Again, I say, use it! But, use it appropriately and effectively. You know why? Because whether or not it affects rankings, it is can be seen in the SERPs. Someone searching will see these words if Google picks them up because they were used and setup appropriately by you. The Meta Description tag allows an awesome avenue to add additional info to help clarify why a page exists, how it relates to the search term used to find it and gives a great place for a call-to-action element. So…we say, USE IT!

Here are the basic guidelines for the Meta Description tag that we’ve used for years and will continue to suggest to our clients too:

Meta Description tag:

1. Length of content (18 + or – 6, repeat any word only twice).
2. Incorporate keywords from the Title tag, plus a few more.
3. Write the description using statements and keywords from the Title and Meta Keywords tag.
4. Make the description a statement about that web page and what the company does related to that page.
5. Use proper grammar as much as possible.
6. Consider incorporating some sort of call-to-action wording.

Use both of these tags, and others too. We’ve known for a long time that there are tons (Google says they have over 200 ranking factors) of things affecting Google’s main core research of website pages and determination for rankings. And, it still remains that if you know your business, write about your business and represent it as it should be that you’ll probably be ok. Don’t stop doing something just because Google says they don’t read or use it – there’s no penalty or issue for using something Google doesn’t. Just don’t use or do things they specifically say you should not. All they said here today was that they don’t read the Meta Keywords tag for ranking considerations and they want people to stop thinking about suing people over stupid things just because they don’t get it!. You get it, right?! And if you aren’t so sure, then, go get yourself a smart SEO! Then there’s nothing to worry about and…. you’ll be golden!

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