Is It Still Worth Using Keyword and Description Meta Tags?

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There has been a lot of talk about whether or not keyword and description meta tags are even worth doing anymore. Here’s my opinion – YES!

Here are the actual facts:

  • Back as far as November 26, 2007, Search Engine Journal was reporting that the keywords tag has little impact on where a site will appear in the Google search results.
  • In an article published April 25, 2008, at by Barry Schwartz (originally by Eric Goldman), a US Court Judge ruled that since the keyword meta tags do not influence search results, having trademarked terms in them are immaterial.
  • The Google Webmasters/Site owners Help section on Meta Tags does not identify the keyword meta tag in the list of meta tags that they support but it does list the description meta tag:
    • <meta name=”description” content=”A description of the page” />
    • <meta name=”robots” content=”…, …” />
    • <meta name=”googlebot” content=”…, …” />
    • <meta name=”google” content=”notranslate” />
    • <meta name=”verify-v1″ content=”…” />
    • <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”…; charset=…” />
    • <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”…; url=…” />

  • They also discuss how to help improve the quality of the snippets displayed for your pages by providing informative meta descriptions for each page. Because one of the ways that Google generates the snippet displayed for your pages is by using DMOZ, they give you a way to stop them:
    • To specifically prevent Google from using this information for a page’s description, use the following:
      • <meta name=”googlebot” content=”NOODP”>
    • To prevent all search engines (that support the meta tag) from using this information for the page’s description, use the following:
      • <meta name=”robots” content=”NOODP”>
    • If you use the robots meta tag for other directives, you can combine those. For instance:
      • <meta name=”googlebot” content=”NOODP, nofollow”>
  • Everything thing that I’ve read and researched online shows that Yahoo and MSN still use the keyword and description meta tag for search engine results pages.

The most important thing to remember is consistency. Yes, Google does control the lion’s share of the search market; however, people still use Yahoo and MSN. At one of my local clients, their engineers swear by Yahoo and won’t use anything else.

So be consistent. Don’t produce a website for the search engines first and users second. Remember that search engines are looking for reliable, valid, up-to-date content and that includes meta tags. Don’t let your clients persuade you to remove these tags!

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  • Ricky

    This is why i curse the blogger platform.There is not even a feature to add unique meta tags.I feel this is the reason why sergey quit blogging in the blogger blog [just kidding].

  • Neil Robert

    We are coming so much profit-driven that sometimes we forgot about our audience and just care of search engines, mostly the big G!

  • djbaxter

    re: “Everything thing that I’ve read and researched online shows that Yahoo and MSN still use the keyword and description meta tag for search engine results pages. ”

    I’d be interested in seeing some of this evidcence. I was under the impression that neither MSN nor Yahoo pay any attention to the meta keywords tag.

  • Kandi Humpf

    Hi djbaxter,
    The repeating research I kept finding was how you can use a made up word in your keyword tag and Yahoo and MSN will index you for that word. Check out this article from

  • Whats on in Cardiff

    I think if anything its best to cover all your bases, what if google suddenly starts paying attention to them again and you end up having to go through every page of all your sites just to get indexed?

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    I prefer the “what does it cost” approach. How much time does it really take to seed Meta Keywords and Meta description tags? My clients pay me a great deal of money to optimize their sites, and if adding these to each page helps even on 2nd tier search engines, then it’s worth it to me.

    Sure, I focus mostly on Google, yet the extra effort really doesn’t hurt the SEO process, so why skip it if I’m truly “optimizing” my client sites?

  • Mike S

    I still use them for the other search engines but I am not sure if they have any effect at all anymore even with them. I guess it just can’t hurt to keep using them.
    And to think I used to spend so much time years ago researching keywords and meta tags and now they are hardly ever used.

  • Documaker

    Metatag data is also important to social media bookmark sites. A lot of them automate importing and unless you want to fill in this info by hand, you’d better make sure your site(s) are meta’d!

  • Shark

    “f you want a real myth, though, it’s that the meta keywords tag matters. It makes so little difference. Only Yahoo takes any real look at it, and even there, it’s virtually useless” – Danny Sullivan on

  • Helen Overland

    Thanks for your RT and response to my article, Kandi!

    Although I disagree that meta-keywords tags are worth the effort, it’s interesting to see this ongoing debate unfold.

  • @steveplunkett

    here’s a myth.. that shark seo actually knows seo instead of repeating what Rand said..
    (he’s clueless)
    and what dannysullivan siad WITHOUT TESTING YOURSELF.

  • John S. Britsios (aka Webnauts)

    You mentioned as for example:

    If you use the robots meta tag for other directives, you can combine those. For instance:


    I know that was an example but it could be misleading for newbies.

    If you use the “nofollow” you create a dangling/node page. And I can’t believe that anyone would like to fall into a trap like that.

    I also do not see a reason not using the keywords meta tag if you are doing that right.

    The best for that tag is using only the 4 most relevant keywords found in the page copy. If you think you have more that 4, do not go over 8.

    At last, Google is not the only search engine out there. There are search engines that take that tag and its content into account.

  • Shabu Anower

    I use meta tags and I think still Google like this thingy.

    Why? Because they retrieve meta description in search result if your site have.

    See here and check sites meta desc:

  • Mac Gizmo Guy

    I’m suprised you dedicated so many sentences to DMOZ/ODP tags and snippets. Add me to the list of THOUSANDS of people who’ve tried to get a listing there for YEARS and never did. For far too many people, DMOZ is a huge waste of human and life energy.

  • Henri Brookhaus

    Search engines like Google, Yahoo and AltaVista show metatags in their search results. You will have a direct influence on your presentation. And by doing so you will manipulate the click-behaviour of your soon te be customer. Take a look at an example:

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