To meta tag, or not to meta tag – that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous search results positions, or take arms against a sea of competitors and by outranking, beat them to page 1 of Google.
Unfortunately, it seems that there is huge division when it comes to one specific meta tag – the keyword meta tag. A brief search on the internet reveals a wealth of SEO ‘experts’ offering you their definitive answer.
The problem is – very few of these SEO gurus can decide on what the definitive answer actually is.
Some SEO advisors continue to offer the same advice that they were offering back in the nineties, suggesting keyword meta tags stuffed full of keywords, misspellings and semantically related phrases. The problem is, that they have often failed to notice that older search engines, such as Alta Vista, actually penalize a site for including keywords in the meta tag which do not appear in the content of the website.
Many web optimization experts will tell you that Google saw the problems caused through other search engines’ use of the keywords meta tag, with more and more rogue website owners creating vast lists of keywords and stuffing the meta tag full of as many words as possible in the hope of fooling the search engines, particularly Alta Vista, into promoting their site. As a result, Google ignored the keywords meta tag, and does so to this day. Therefore, many experts argue that there is no point including them.
But this doesn’t answer an important question:
If the keywords meta tag is so unimportant, why does Google use them?
That’s right – have a quick look at Google’s own pages, and you’ll see them using the keywords meta tag. Now this blows much of the advice given by so called SEO gurus clean out of the water.
If you want to test the knowledge and expertise of Search Engine Optimization specialist or web content writer, ask them this simple question: why does Google include the keywords meta tags in its <head> code, if it has never bothered to include this information in its analysis of other sites?
The trouble is that far too many website owners and rank advisers become entirely obsessed with Google, and miss the bigger picture. The fact is, that including the keywords meta tag does not have any negative effect on the way Google views your site; it doesn’t have any positive effect either, but this isn’t the point.
The point is that Google is not the only search engine. Did you know that nearly 30% of all searches carried out in the US use Yahoo?
More importantly, did you know that Yahoo does use the keywords meta tag in determining a website’s content and relevance? Of course, it isn’t the only aspect of a site which is used, but it’s important enough for Google to have considered including methods of optimizing its own content for other search engines.
And if it’s good enough for Google, it should surely be worth taking into account for your own site.