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 searchengineland.com 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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