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Meta keywords tag: Bing says carry on but Google says it’s a waste of time – but

September 21, 2009 3 Comments

I've been trying to get people I work with to stop filling out meta keywords fields, with varying degrees of success (although read on to see that Bing says there still is some still benefit).

Google has now come out and said this:

Does Google ever use the "keywords" meta tag in its web search ranking?

A: In a word, no.

There's more here. But essentially, let's all stop bothering (we're not going to bother just for Yahoo, surely - although you should still bother if your site's own search engine uses them).

The only slight caveat is that if Bing is important to you, you might decide the effort is still worth it - and it is growing its market share. Bing says:

The <meta> 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

It's still important to get your meta descriptions right, of course (and here's how to generate unique ones for your wordpress post, page, tag, archive and category pages - along with tips on adding page numbers to them).
You can read more about which meta tags Google pays attention to. And there's help with implementing structured data tags for rich text snippets.

You might also like
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  2. Ignore WordPress’s SEO advice
  3. Google indexes 168,000 pages of Bing’s social search results
  4. BUSTED: bing defender is Microsoft employee – and have they deleted my post on bing’s usability from bing?
  5. Final proof that the Google Adwords keywords tool is useless in the UK

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