Meta Keywords Tag

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by tonygreek, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    Anyone want to really nerd out on this topic? A couple of us have been having a discussion in another thread about the "meta keyword tag", but it probably should be it's own thread.

    If you're not aware of what the meta keywords tag is, the tag can sometimes be found in a web site's <head> tag and was used (a decade or so ago) for establishing site relevance. It has gone the way of the Dodo bird as it was one of the earliest methods of spamming search engines with bogus content and perceived relevance. As with most things web, it was something that started out as good, but quickly joined a long list of oft-exploited web site marketing loopholes.

    As an example of what this tag is, this is lawnsite's tag keyword meta tag:

    <meta name="keywords" content="dixie chopper,exmark,toro,lawnsite,lawn care business,lawn mowing business,lawn business forum,aerator,commercial mowers,lawn mowing,shindaiwa,gator blades,irrigation,scag mowers,sulky,walk behind mowers,landscaping,lawn maintenance,walker mowers" />

    So where do things stand with their use? Google has been saying for years that they no longer use them, while Bing uses them to actually identify those sites trying to game the search engines.

    (As a loose example of Bing's use of this, if your meta keywords tag is comprised of nothing but Pepsi product references, but your content is completely Big K Cola-related, Bing can bump those up against each other and decide whether you're legitimately trying to discuss Pepsi on your site or just trying to pull Pepsi info searches to your site by deceptive means. If they decide something isn't right, they can use that to help push you down the rankings, or filter you out all together. )

    These are a couple of references to use to form your own opinion:

    Google Search Quality guru, Matt Cutts, not only addressed this in 2009, but he seemed to feel strongly enough about it, and wanted to clear up the high volume of misconceptions and repeated questions, that he addressed it again in 2012. If you watch both, there are two amusingly ironic aspects to his "submitted" questions, as well as the following examples.



    Google Web Masters Blog Post re: their use (notice the seo-friendly link name): meta keywords article:
    "The only search engine that looks at the keywords anymore is Microsoft's Bing – and they use it to help detect spam. To avoid hurting your site, your best option is to never add this tag."

    That last article is helpful as it addresses the variety of meta tags, as well as the Matt Cutts' videos touch on them as well.

    My own thoughts?

    My own mix of subjective and objective views on this is that, while some still think it's a useful component to include in your sites, I view them akin to an obvious poker tell (who doesn't love finding your competition's tell?) and actually an aid to your competition as it's a one-stop shop for the keywords you, or they, are targeting.

    I personally use the meta keyword tag data, but not on my own web sites. I do run queries to pull competitors' meta tags so that I can have a quick snapshot of what they're currently targeting, look at their rank, and decide if I need to make any corrective action of my own. For this reason, they are supremely useful, just not as they intend them to be.

    Thoughts? Questions? Things you've noticed in your own analysis?
  2. kirkmbrown2001

    kirkmbrown2001 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    After reading tony's post and the seo books that I have read, search engines are starting to drift away from keywords. They are now looking mainly at the title meta tag and the body content for search engine rankings and relevance. I just did a quick google search and found an article that give one possibly good example of why you would use the keywords meta tag. That reason is mispellings. If your business name is commonly mispelled, put that mispelling in the keywords tag. Obviously, it would be better from strictly an SEO standpoint to include it in your body content, but if you did, that would cause confusion and make you look uneducated! :laugh:

    Here are some more articles I quickly found on Google:
  3. Dave does lawns

    Dave does lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 257

    Tony, you truly do know your SEO well, as I have read many of your posts on the subject.

    So do not take any offense at what I may say.

    If you know how the meta keyword tag was meant to be used, and you used it that way then your not spamming and therefore your not going to be judged by BING.

    SEO in my opinion is not about a quick fix or trying to beat the engines at their game. I know that you (Tony) know how search engines view your site. Its kinda like a book....... You have the front cover on a book, we have our heading on the site, (meta area) of the website. Then you have the title page inside, on the website you have the H1TAG.....

    SEO is not hard, its the millions of people that make it hard. Do not try to cheat the engines, just build your site with details of what its really about. First and foremost when I build a site its about content to the customer. Then i will use the meta keyword tag to replicate that same content in my meta keyword tag for the engines. Nothing more nothing less.

    My SEO standpoint and how I build a website has not changed for 10 years. For what I show up as in #1 spot on Google I have been #1 for a long time and my ranking just not fluctuate. If I fluctuate I would be concerned as that tells me I may have stretched the "rules" and am being judged.
  4. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    Not at all. I was hoping you'd weigh in on this topic with your thoughts. Much like with my site reviews on here, I try to avoid the subjective, and so I laid out sourced views and then added my opinion at the end.

    Correct, but what I am pointing out is that it is not being used in a positive sense. It's not being used at all, for any "beneficial to your site reason", but if you are using it incorrectly, then you have a problem. It is not used to rule content in, or give your site weight, it is used to filter for the negative. That's the key difference. Sure, they can easily reopen that firehose of data and use it to establish relevance, but that ship has long since sailed.

    I've been trying to think of something to equate this to, and the best I can come up with is comparing it to the old saying of "Nothing good happens after 2am". I think keyword meta tags are 2am. lol Maybe another comparison would be we as kids, or our own kids now, saying "You never focus on the good I do, just the bad.". God, I'm starting to reflect on too many things my parents said... :)

    Exactly. I only use long-term strategies. After an initial build, I don't even bother looking at anything other than making sure the indexes pick them up (which is easy to do within 24 hours now. beats the heck out of the old days and delays waiting for Googlebot, et al to roll through your site) and then give the site some time to settle in to it's initial, natural rank and then go from there.

    This is why I'm glad you weighed in. Do real work, produce real content...and be damn glad everyone here is only competing at the local search level. lol National and global produces obstacles that luckily most on here don't have to deal with.

    As long as I've been doing this, I've never seen the questions arising about the future direction of SEO the way many in the SEO community are right now. But if people maintain the course that you use, I think everyone will be okay. Obviously new methods need to be observed and utilizedn, and select old methods can safely be abandoned. The algorithm tweaks we've seen in the last couple of months, and especially Google's increased weighting emphasis on social reviews and other off-page, human-interactive sources, etc, in an attempt to have actual humans assist in establishing relevance is indicative of how little value Google is putting on some of the old school methods.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to my continued cursing of Google+'s absorption of Places... lol

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  5. GreyFlames

    GreyFlames Inactive
    Messages: 90


    Great information. I value your knowledge and research. I think you have made very valid points. Despite this, at the moment, I still like to list a few very relevant keywords. There are two reasons that I have found in my research that make me take the extra minute to write them.

    Google crawls your entire webpage, and while I agree keywords are not used like keywords used to be, they still provide additional "content". I think that all meta tags and alt tags fit this bill.

    Amazon, a giant everyone knows, uses keywords on their pages. Perhaps they have other in-house reasons, but there they are.

    My two cents. Thanks for starting up the thread.
  6. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    Out of curiosity, and for discussion's sake, why don't you use them on your own site?

    <meta name="description" content="GreyFlames Website Design"/>
    <meta name="keywords" content=""/>

    As for Amazon, why do you assume their use of the meta keyword tag is directed at external search?

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