Google announce officially that they don’t use the “keywords” meta tag in their web search ranking!
Bad news for all those people who have spent many hours agonising over the keywords that are most important for their website, yes, sorry guys, it’s all been a waste of time!
No, not really! Keywords are the most important element of search engine optimisation, full stop, period, end of story! Without understanding which keywords your clients, users, prospective customers , target customers, in fact anyone who you want to visit your website uses and then making sure your pages are optimised for, or at least contain these keywords, your website will not achieve its potential.
What Google is saying in this important post, that’s had the search world all of a buzz recently, is that for all those people who have spent many hours agonising over the keywords which are most important for their website and then stuffing them all into the “keywords” meta tag, anticipating almost immediate Google no.1 rankings and search engine domination, they will, unfortunately, be disappointed.
Most SEO’s have understood for some time that Google ignores the keywords metatag and filling the box consequently has little effect on a pages ranking’s. Yahoo has also confirmed that it disregards the “keywords” tag although, perhaps typically contrarily, Bing advises otherwise “take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit ” it says.
Zelst‘s policy has been that summarising 5 key phrases for a page is good discipline, provides a prompt for the other elements of on-page optimisation and given the amount of time it adds to the process, if it’s relevant, it is as well to have it there.
The really interesting thing, imho, that came out from the blog and a subsequent YouTube post is that Google has confirmed it is increasingly using well written meta descriptions in their page snippets on a search engine results page.
The snippet is the piece of text that appears below the page title in a search engine results page as illustrated here:-
This description, whilst having no bearing on search rankings from Google, is your opportunity to pitch your page to searchers, courtesy of Google. It’s your 10 second, elevator pitch so stuffing it full of keywords is not its purpose.
So what does this say for SEO?
Well, yes, something we’ve been saying for some time. SEO is not just about stuffing a load of random keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions and “keywords” tags and hoping for the best. It’s about ensuring your page is relevant to your target keywords, they appear in the relevant places on the page, not just in the meta headers, that your titles, meta descriptions, headings, content and tags are all crafted around your target phrases, that your structure, navigation and links are all conducive both to your users and search robots and that you ensure that an appropriate number of relevant sites link to your pages using your keywords in their link text. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Quick? Absolutely not!