Google Confirms Meta Keyword Tag Is Ignored for Ranking

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This may be more straight-SEO news than particularly geared at video, but if you host your own videos or are aiming to rank pages where you’ve embedded a non-hosted video… this will impact your efforts.

Google’s official webmaster blog has confirmed the obvious, that the search engine doesn’t use Meta Keyword tags in their search rankings. And SEOs around the globe collectively remarked, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

I’m sure there are a lot of SEOs newer to the profession that may not have known this, but the fact is that most SEO professionals have known for some time now–or at least suspected–that Google ignores the keyword tag.  I remember reading and talking about it with other SEOs as far back as a couple years ago.

But it’s still nice to get official confirmation from Google.  And Matt Cutts, the liaison between Google and the SEO community, has echoed what the webmaster blog said.  He even included a video that gives a bit more explanation:

It sounds like lawsuits and legal matters are a big part of why they decided to make an official statement on the matter, which is interesting. I guess Google got tired of having to explain to the courts that lawsuits involving the keyword tag were a waste of everyone’s time.

But perhaps the biggest reveal in the whole affair is this little nugget that’s almost buried at the bottom of the post:

“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.”

Now that’s news to me.  Sure, I’ve seen some of my own testing data that gives me reason to doubt the description tag’s importance, but nothing that suggested it was ignored altogether for ranking purposes.  I know an awful lot of SEOs who spend a lot of time on keyword and description tags, and this news is going to surprise and maybe even frighten some of them.

It’s important to point out that Google is only making claims for how Google uses (or doesn’t use) these tags.  Cutts even says in his video that other engines might use the tags, but Google does not.  I think Yahoo is still placing more value on the keyword and description tag than Google is… but it’s probably not much value.

But this is where SEO is going, folks.  It’s going to be less and less about tags and code, and more about content and links.  Webmasters and SEOs have been trying to abuse and capitalize on tags and code for years, which is reason enough for Google to de-emphasize them.  But Google’s also been getting better at understanding what a website is about without needing to rely on tags or descriptions.  They want your actual content, combined with the rest of the web’s opinion of your content (links/trust), to be the basis for where you rank.  This is just a baby step in that direction, and the first of many similar moves to come.


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