Yahoo Search No Longer Uses Meta Keywords Tag

And then there were none. Yahoo has long been the only major search engine that supported the meta keywords tag. However, the search engine revealed today that like the other majors, it no longer supports it.

The news came during the Ask The Search Engines session at SMX East in New York today. The search engines were all asked about their support of the tag. Moderator Danny Sullivan noted that only Yahoo provided support of the tag — prompting Cris Pierry, senior director of search at Yahoo, to announce that support actually had been ended unannounced “several” months ago.

Bing doesn’t support the tag. Google has never supported it and in fact clarified this again in a special post last month. See Google: Stop Suing Over The Meta Keywords Tag, We Don’t Use It for more about that.

NOTE: See our follow-up post, Sorry, Yahoo, You DO Index The Meta Keywords Tag.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | SEO: General | SEO: Tagging | SEO: Titles & Descriptions | SEO: Writing & Body Copy | Top News | Yahoo: SEO

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.everfluxx.com/ everfluxx

    Hi Barry! I was a bit surprised to read what Cris Pierry reportedly said about Yahoo having “dropped the meta keywords tag months ago”. They might not be using it for ranking anymore, but the evidence would suggest that Yahoo is still indexing the meta tag’s content and using it for retrieval, at least under certain conditions: see my comment here.

  • http://www.planetcarl.com friday13th

    According to this, from July 2009, Bing still recommends meta keywords tag

    http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/webmaster/archive/2009/07/18/head-s-up-on-lt-head-gt-tag-optimization-sem-101.aspx

    “The tag’s keyword attribute is not the page rank panacea it once was back in the prehistoric days of Internet search. It was abused far too much and lost most of its cachet. But there’s no need to ignore the tag. Take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit, even when the payoff is relatively low. Fill in this tag’s text with relevant keywords and phrases that describe that page’s content.”

    Please link me to somewhere where they categorically say it isn’t supported

  • http://blog.lbi-netrank.co.uk/author/ian-macfarlane/ Ian Macfarlane

    What everfluxx said – it’s definitely still being used at least for for retrieval.

    Would love to have the actual quote on this – are you sure they didn’t say they weren’t using it for *ranking*?

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    This is interesting news, but I still implement the Meta Tag keywords since Bing uses it and as a best practice why wouldn’t you?

    If you are targeting a subset of relevant keyword phrases on a particular page (based on the content) and optimize every other aspect of the page, it seems to me that it take little effort to include the meta keyword information. Unless there is a penalty given out by Google or Yahoo for including the relevant keywords that you are targeting on a page, then I am going to continue to include this information.

  • http://www.highrankings.com/newsletter/ Jill Whalen

    Too bad the Yahoo guy wasn’t telling the truth (or simply didn’t know). Like others have said here, they are still indexing it as they always have.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yahoo said they simply do not use the tag. They didn’t specify ranking versus indexing, I think because the “we don’t use it” was pretty clear — they were saying they don’t use it at all.

    Everfluxx, agreed — that looks like your page is ranking because Yahoo is indeed indexing that unique phrase. I used to have a similar test that got overwritten, otherwise I would have brought it up during the discussion and called Yahoo out on it — if it wasn’t holding up. So maybe Cris was wrong in what he said. Certainly Yahoo still has guidelines saying to use it.

    Ian, Bing said in the session they don’t use it. They’ve said they don’t use it for years. My last survey (Meta Keywords Tag 101: How To “Legally” Hide Words On Your Pages For Search Engines) confirmed again that they don’t use it. So when they wrote this in July of this year, from that page you link to:

    “The tag’s keyword attribute is not the page rank panacea it once was back in the prehistoric days of Internet search. It was abused far too much and lost most of its cachet. But there’s no need to ignore the tag. Take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit, even when the payoff is relatively low. Fill in this tag’s text with relevant keywords and phrases that describe that page’s content.

    When creating keyword text, remember the following:

    * Choose words that may be secondary keyword terms (save the primary keywords for use in the title and meta description tags), and even include a few, commonly seen typographical errors of primary keywords, just for good measure
    * Limit your keyword and key phrase text, separated by commas, to no more than 874 characters
    * Don’t repeat a keyword more than 4 times among the keywords and phrases in the list”

    Honestly, I don’t think they know what they’re talking about. That reads like someone got a copy of really old SEO advice and decided to put it out there regardless of what Bing actually does. I mean, my head hurts, but not everyone cared about commas or not. And no one had this 874 character limit. I mean, if you went over, it was no big deal. And the don’t repeat more than 4 times? According to what. Microsoft never, ever had its own guidelines like this.”

    And in Bing’s published guidelines, there’s nothing like it, either.

  • http://www.bing.com stefanw

    Just wanted to clarify Bing’s position. As you mentioned, Bing does not use meta-keyword tags for rankings today. The original blog posted was part of an SEM 101 series that covered all major topics related to SEM/SEO. We know that meta-keyword tags are a topic of interest to our users and are found to be useful in some cases, as evidenced by both readers of the blog post and of this article. We wanted to provide some general guidance on the topic, although we know there are many other things a webmaster can and should be thinking about before meta-keyword tags.

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

    I advise people to ignore the keywords meta tag.

    As a piece of hidden text on a web page, it is highly unlikely that it will ever have any real retrieval value for a quality search engine. If Google publicly says [1] they consider more than 200 factors, and I imagine Yahoo and Bing aren’t too far behind, focusing on the keywords meta tag sends out the wrong message – the keywords meta tag shouldn’t still be synonymous with SEO, sigh….

    Add to this that Google doesn’t use the tag [2] and is the undisputed leader, approaching monopoly proportions, in most markets [3], well, again, keywords meta tag is superfluous – there’s just no ROI there, move along….

    A final reason to ignore the keywords meta tag is let’s presume that we do some real keyword research for our website’s pages. Is there any reason to explicitly tell our competitors what keywords we’re targeting? Sure, that information is available to anyone who has programs to analyze inbound links and perhaps keyword density… but let them work for it!

    [1] http://www.shareholder.com/common/media/GOOGPR/20060510/20263/s17.jpg

    [2] http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

    [3] http://www.antezeta.com/blog/search-engine-market-share-2009-06

  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    Hey Stefan,

    That Bing blog post honestly was just a bit odd. People are expecting to go to the Bing Webmaster Center blog and get authoritative insight from Bing’s crawling, indexing, and rankings teams about how Bing handles sites. That post (and several others) seemed like it would fit more on an SEO blog that speculates about what on-page factors may be important generally to search engines.

  • http://www.triharyadi.web.id/2012/02/promo-member-alfamart-minimarket-lokal.html Promo Indonesia Member

    I don’t quite sure how yahoo search engine works because this search engine i think more prefer on the domain aging then the content. I don’t really know how to optimized blog on yahoo.

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