Despite the fact that keywords meta-tags have lost credibility as a search engine ranking factor quite some time ago, there is quite a bit of buzz on the subject lately. Matt Cutts, Head of web spam at Google has reiterated publicly once again, that the Googlebot ignores keywords embeded into the meta keywords elements of web pages and that they don’t use the meta area at all, at least as a ranking factor.

Such officially post confirms that the Googlebot ignores the keywords meta tag, but it is interesting to still see that everyone suddently starts a conversation about it on the various blogs:

So the clear message from google is keywords meta-tags are useless. However there other search engines, like Ask or Bing that may be still using the keywords metas to ascertain relevance. However, as far as Yahoo is concerned, about a couple of weeks later, they announced that Yahoo Search no longer uses meta keywords tag .

The interesting part of this story is that a few days later, Danny Sullivan, editor of Search engine land, posted an article stating that following a homepage test, he discovered that Yahoo still indexes the meta keywords tag. The experiment consisted of placing a unique word: ‘xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk’ in the meta keywords tag on the home page of Search Engine Land. He made a search for this word on yahoo search and Search engine land ranked clearly on top.

What’s the bottom point with this post? should you use the meta keywords tag or not? The consensus amongst SEO experts is :

  • if you already have your meta tags fully populated with keywords leave them there as they are as long as they are relevant to the page topic.
  • if you are starting a new page, you could do with jotting a keyword or two on the keywords meta tag just to be sure that you stand your chances with other search engines and in case, things change in future, and as they will be useful for other things that search engine rankings

My personal advice is not to obsess with on page and meta optimisation and not to spend more than a few seconds on that tag when doing development. Instead, focus on link building or creating good content that attracts links naturally.

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