Does Google Value Keyword Meta Tags?
Do Meta Keywords Matter?
Simply put: No.
For a long time, a meta tag was a very valuable piece of an overall SEO strategy. Initially, it was used to store words and phrases that described how the site should be listed in search results. For a long time, this was a very valuable piece of SEO data. Yet, over time, this was highly abused by people trying to game the system in order to rank higher. It was so abused that Google now officially ignores the keyword meta tag.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam, has weighed in on the popular webmaster YouTube series that Google no longer uses Meta Tags. Here is the video from him stating that Google no longer uses the Keyword Meta Tags:
What Google says about Keyword Meta Tags
Q: Does Google ever use the "keywords" meta tag in its web search ranking?
A: In a word, no. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has the ability to match meta tags, which could include the keywords meta tag. But that's an enterprise search appliance that is completely separate from our main web search. Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don't have any effect in our search ranking at present.
Q: Why doesn't Google use the keywords meta tag?
A: About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called "off-page" factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.
Q: Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?
A: No, Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. For example, we do sometimes use the "description" meta tag as the text for our search results snippets, as this screen shot shows: Q: Does this mean that Google will always ignore the keywords meta tag?
A: It's possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it's unlikely. Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.
Meta Keywords vs. Keywords in content
Right now many of you are thinking “Wait, I have heard that keywords are important, now I should ignore them?”
This is a HUGE point of confusion. The keywords meta tag - a very specific portion of the page - no longer impacts SEO. Keywords and phrases within other areas of the page, in contrast, are highly important. Google and other search engines no longer consider the keywords meta tag, but they are smart enough to figure out what keywords and phrases have been used in the pages content, title and meta description. Disregard the keywords meta tag all together and focus on your titles, descriptions, and on page content.