• http://www.searchenginesservices.com seomama

    Great article Danny! This is really great guidelines for most the SEO out there. This articles described about the usage of META Keywords in full details, i dont think the search engines guidelines would provide the cleary information as this. Appreciate it!!

  • tzd123

    That was definitely a good one. Thanks Danny.

  • Arturo Ronchi

    Nice article Danny.

    One note about the tags; Google doesn’t use it to rank pages, no, but it will use it to differentiate pages. A change in meta keywords *can* help you to get pages out of the suplimental index.

  • http://www.agazillioncars.com Martin

    Hi Danny,

    I remembered reading that the Adsense bot used to read the meta keywords tag in order to display contextual ads, is it true?

  • http://www.pixelstreamed.com Shaze

    Danny,
    When you were talking about how Google doesn’t use the meta keywords tag I think you missed one very important situation in your research: Maybe Google’s spam filter is going off in it’s algorithm because the words in the meta keyword tags aren’t present in the actual body of the web page, so it completely ignores listing the page for those keywords. That being said there is probably no way to test this theory because one you input the keyword in your body and it shows up in the SERP’s it can be just because it was in the body of the page.
    Secondly, maybe if the keyword appears in both the meta keyword tag and the body of the page it will get a boost in the algorithm SERP rankings rather than if it was just found on the page? No one will ever know I guess except the people that actually get to work on the actual code for the algorithms, so just to be safe maybe people should include it in their pages.

    When it comes to SEO I think nothing should be left out, even if you could get a little boost from something as simple as a meta keyword tag I think it should be done. Just my thoughts.

  • http://htp://www.sitesell.com/ KenEvoy

    Danny,

    You know I love you, but I’ve got to disagree with much of what you say.

    1) Your test for “qiskodslajdmnkd, ddakaieciuaj jkdalladpaoaw, wdaopeqndlkakljad” only proves that two engines don’t use it for SERP display if the keywords in a meta tag don’t appear on a page. Two do. Anything beyond that is conjecture as to cause-and-effect. This test was way too simplistic to prove anything more than that.

    2) I disagree with the conclusion (put a mis-spelling in the meta keyword tag so that it ranks). A common mis-spelling is not the same as an extreme nonsense word. More importantly, to do anything PURELY for the engines, in the long-run, is likely a mistake. If you are ashamed to show it to humans, don’t show it to the engines.

    3) Your conclusions re its importance (or lack of same) for ranking is also flawed. The algorithms are far too complex to make such simplistic assertions and conclusions.

    4) As to commas, it’s pretty comma-sense really (sorry, couldn’t resist). Commas are not a reason to stress over it and “hate” the tag. And it’s an “issue” with all tagging systems. It’s just that no one has laid out the rules clearly since the engines don’t want to be transparent on their algorithms, nor do I blame them. But in the end, it’s really comma-sense and your recommendations are spot-on.

    5) As to official search engine guidelines, what they DO say has some value. What they do NOT say would have more value if we knew it (which, of course, we don’t and that’s the point isn’t it?). Yahoo!’s official guidelines used to categorically state they use it. Now they don’t but they talk about metadata? How to interpret that? Don’t even try.

    6) Danny, I could not disagree with your conclusion more. It costs nothing to include meta keyword tags, at least not when done properly (using a few words at most, comma-separated).

    In a Web 2.0 world that has become tag-obsessed, it’s ironic that the useful old Meta keyword tag is so widely dissed.

    Long may it live. It’s a handy way to let engines know the most important topics of any page. If you abuse the tag, here’s what I would do if I were a Search Engine — I’d ignore it. If you use it properly, I’d take note. Easy to tell the difference? After 10 years, sure. Beyond that, what each engine really does with it none of us know.

    If I were an engine, I’d take note of tag that exists specifically to tell me what the important topics of the page are. Wouldn’t you? And if YOU wouldn’t, no loss to including it — so many people do that there cannot possibly be a penalty except for those who stuff it.

    No downside. Possible minor (at this stage, any single element is minor but this is more so, I agree) gain.

    Use it, I say.

    All the best,
    Ken Evoy
    President, SiteSell.com

  • MattC

    Fantastic article Danny. I would have never spent more than 2 minutes of my own time writing about the Meta Keywords Tag. Applause.

  • http://www.dotcult.com Ryan

    Great post Danny.

    I wish you’d do a post about paid inclusion programs as well. I have so many clients who buy into the rep hype that I’d love to have something authoritative to point them to.

  • http://www.neutralize.com Teddie

    Danny I believe Matt in one of his videos last year
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5179191836301432169
    (I can’t recollect which video it was in though, Matt do you remember?) said that labs.google.com/accessible/ does support Meta Keywords.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    Hey Ken!

    1) The test shows that Google and Yahoo will not recover a page if the word you searched for only appears within the meta keywords area. If they did, you’d have seen my home page coming up. If the argument is they retrieve the page but then say oh, the word is only in the meta keywords tag so don’t show it, same thing in the end. The page isn’t turning up.

    2) My recommendation is don’t bother with the tag. But if you really want to, then misspellings to me are fine. That been a long-standing use of the meta keywords tag, so you’re on solid ground in my book.

    3) It’s a simplistic test because that’s all it needs to be. It was designed to see if a search engine would find a page if the word you looked for only appeared in the meta keywords tag. Two do; two don’t. It’s not a ranking test, so a simple yes/no answer is absolutely fine.

    6) It costs time. Too many beginners spend way too much time on the tag rather than their content. That’s a serious cost, hence my conclusion :)

    As for taking note, if I were a search engine, I’d ignore the tag because of the widespread misuse. I’d rely more on other factors — which is what they in fact do.

  • http://www.oldschoolseo.com oldschoolseo

    Danny, there is another school of thought that dates way back to SES NYC 2000 and that was by using a comma and a space, a search bot would recognize that as a “double parse” where the comma serves as one and the space serves as the other. This is my understanding of the history of the “comma, no space” format.

    Cheers!

    - Anthony

  • http://www.antezeta.com/blog/ Sean Carlos

    Well done. Thank you.

    One other use of keyword values might be to assist in defaulting social bookmark “tags” for users who bookmark a page. The keywords can be passed on to many social media sites with the help of a bit of JavaScript.

    It might be worth specifically noting that the TITLE tag, which appears along with the meta tags in the html HEAD document section, is simply the document title, not the “title meta tag” I often hear it called.

    Unlike the meta tags, it is visible. The graphical browsers include it at the top of the browser window. They also use it as a page’s bookmark title. The terminal based browser Lynx displays the TITLE at the top of the page.

    As for closing meta tags with />, this is indeed an xml requirement for sites which have specified xhtml as the html version in the DOCTYPE statement at the top of a page. Other common tags which need this closure include IMG, BR and HR.

  • http://www.benjarriola.com Benj Arriola

    I work with a company that is soooo anal on these tags. Before I came in I never put any serious attention on the Meta Keywords tag after just playing around in SEO contest and looking at what other people are doing already gave me the idea the tags is nearly useless. Now here I go corporate SEO work, on my first few days, I kept redoing meta keywords tag. But still I don’t mind doing them to be inline with the company’s policies and making sure everything is done the same way as everyone else but on my own SEO work, I just place almost anything in the Meta Keywords tag. Just related words that come into my head without using any keyword research tools.

  • bood guy

    A very simple algorithm that would give back the value of the keyword meta tag:

    1. Check this ratio: (number of meta keywords) / (number of words in the visible copy)

    2. If the ratio is below a certain threshold, give the keywords a certain weight (because a small ratio proves that this meta tag is probably used sensibly).

    3. If it is above that threshold, but still smaller than a second, higher threshold, give less weight to the keywords.

    4. It this ratio is above the second threshold (so the meta tag is overstuffed with keywords relative to the amount of copy), give the keywords no weight.

  • Myron Rosmarin

    Great article Danny, thanks so much for writing it.

  • http://www.netrafic.com RayPays

    Danny,
    We continue to use the keyword tag just to keep us on topic when writing for the page. And yes, we’ve been arguing about commas versus no commas for a decade. I am in the no comma camp because if the robots read and/or ever use the tag we believe it allows them to form whatever “terms” they want to out of the word jumble – over, under, sideways, down !

  • http://www.tucsonseosolutions.com geeurbie

    I still love and use keywords.

  • http://www.search-marketing-answers.com/blog alan_bleiweiss

    Hi Danny
    Nice to meet ya! Heard a lot about ya. Figured I’d check out your blog. Glad I did!

    Now, about this whole meta keywords issue. If Yahoo uses it, and there’s a possibility that Google does in some ways, or even if only Yahoo does, and maybe some lesser search engines, then for the lousy few moments it takes to fill the field, why wouldn’t I take that time?

    Sure, it’s not on my top five SEO list. But neither are twenty or thirty other things I do.

    But if using it helps even a bit, then personally, I feel it’s worth it.

    Just as valuable to me is the fact that it’s a nifty little consistently located place for me to keep the words and phrases that I want to have there as a reminder for my clients and my team to refer to when they’re working on the content of a page. Can’t remember which words and phrases you need to build your natural language site content around? Simple – refer to the meta keywords field!

    Anyway, I love the fact that these issues are so debatable – the more we discuss and debate them within the industry, the more we hone our skills. And for me, I’m always needing to do that. How else am I ever going to eventually become the SEO demi-god I’ve made myself out to be in my own mind?