Monday, September 21, 2009
Recently we received some questions about how Google uses (or more accurately, doesn't use) the
keywords meta tag in ranking web search results. Suppose you have two website owners, Alice and
Bob. Alice runs a company called AliceCo and Bob runs BobCo. One day while looking at Bob's site,
Alice notices that Bob has copied some of the words that she uses in her
keywords meta tag. Even
more interesting, Bob has added the words "AliceCo" to his
keywords meta tag. Should Alice be
At least for Google's web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google
doesn't use the
keywords meta tag in our web search ranking. This video explains more, or see
the questions below.
Does Google ever use the
keywords meta tag in its web search ranking?
In a word, no. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has
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.
Why doesn't Google use the
keywords meta tag?
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.
Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?
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
description meta tag as the text for our search results snippets, as this
Even though we sometimes use the
description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don't use
description meta tag in our ranking.
Does this mean that Google will always ignore the
keywords meta tag?
It's possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it's unlikely. Google has
keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that