The keyword meta tag is not used by the majority of search engines .... is what they ‘say’. If I were a search engine developer (and I am) that’s exactly what I would tell the webmaster community. Spammers will try anything they think they can get away with, so if the major search engines say they don’t look at the keyword meta tag then there is no harm in stuffing it full of spam to try and fool smaller search engines.
That is why I would tell them I don’t use it, but then use it to catch spammers. I firmly believe that even the most honest and well optimized keyword meta tag will not have any noticeable effect to increase your ranking. But I do believe that a dishonest or un-optimized keyword tag can make a noticeable effect in decreasing your ranking.
Creating the keyword meta tag is only half the danger. For some reason, webmasters believe that if they place as many keywords as possible in their meta tag then search engines will rank them for those keywords. Laughable yes, unless you’re the poor unfortunate company that your useless web designer has done this to!
Then (and this is my favourite) some bright spark figured that if you copy all the words in your keyword metatag and paste them at the bottom of the page in really, really, really tiny writing, written in white on a white background or hidden in layers under a graphic then it wouldn’t bother site visitors and search engines would be ‘tricked’ into thinking that you have relevant text on your web page to back up what you keyword tag said. How clever!
Right, lets move on before the sarcasm gets too indistinguishable for our nice American subscribers. The keyword meta tag looks like this:
< meta name="keywords" content="fishing rods,fishing gear,fish bait,fish food,fish tanks,fishing tackle,cheap fishing rods," >
it does not look like any of these:
< meta name="keywords" content="fishing rods, fishing gear, sex, fish bait, fish food, porn, fish tanks, credit cards, fishing tackle, naked chicks, cheap fishing rods, lesbians," >
< meta name="keywords" content="fishing rods fishing gear fish bait fish food fish tanks fishing tackle cheap fishing rods" >
< meta name="keywords" content="fishing, rods, fishing, gear, fish, bait, fish, food, fish, tanks, fishing, tackle, cheap, fishing, rods" >
< meta name="keywords" content="fishing rods,fishing gear,fish bait,fish food,fish tanks,fishing tackle,cheap fishing rods,fishing rods,fishing gear,fish bait,fish food,fish tanks,fishing tackle,cheap fishing rods,fishing rods,fishing gear,fish bait,fish food,fish tanks,fishing tackle,cheap fishing rods," >
Sticking in a bunch of highly searched terms like sex, porn, naked etc. will not get you ranked for those words. Even if it did, the chances of anyone actually staying on your site to buy a fishing rod when they’re trying to find something else is a million to one. Placing them without the commas will not get the search engines to view the tag as one big keyphrase and magically intermix the words and rank you for them. Then there's putting every word between commas instead of phrases so that the keyword density ratios get pushed up therefore increasing your ranking for each word. And lastly, the more recent favourite, repeating the search terms in the keyword metatag does not boost the importance of the words or make them count several times.
Some of you may think I am not serious and that no-one actually tries these things - well, the above four examples are the most common problem I see when working on a site and with submissions to my search engine. You don’t want to know some of the things I’ve seen people stick in their tags just to try and get 'mega' traffic.
The keywords in your keyword tag should only be search terms that you have actually on your web page that are repeated at least three times. Other than that, it is not in your best interests to put anything else in there. Having no keyword tag is better than one that contains keywords you are not optimized for.
Remember: Yahoo, Excite, Inktomi and others have all stated that they DO use the keyword metatag to ‘help’ in their indexing and ranking process. I believe that this is not to help increase ranking for good keyword meta tags, but to decrease ranking for spam keyword metatags. If in doubt, leave it. You won’t get penalised for not having one ...
Written by Michael Beverley
Director, Internet Heaven
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