Here’s a little about Meta Keywords Tags

Here's a little about Meta Keywords Tags

A hallmark of shady natural search engine optimisation companies – the meta-keywords tag. Companies that waste time and resources on these items waste client’s money – that’s a fact:

If you are relying on meta keyword optimisation to rank for terms, you are dead in the water. From what I see, Google + Bing ignores meta keywords – or, at least, placmeta keyword in them to rank pages. Yahoo may read them, but really, a search engine optimiser has more important things to worry about than this nonsense.

What about other search engines that use them? Hang on while I submit my site to those 75,000 engines first [sarcasm!]. Yes, ten years ago early search engines liked looking at your meta-keywords. I’ve seen OPs in forums ponder which is the best way to write these tags – with commas, with spaces, limiting to how many characters. Forget about meta-keyword tags – they are a pointless waste of time and bandwidth. Could probably save a rain forest with the bandwidth costs we save if everybody removed their keyword tags.

Tin Foil Hat Time

So you have a new site. You fill your home page meta tags with the 20 keywords you want to rank for – hey, that’s what optimisation is all about, isn’t it? You’ve just told Google by the third line of text what to filter you for. The meta name=”Keywords” was actually originally for words that weren’t actually on the page that would help classify the document.

Sometimes competitors might use the information in your keywords to determine what you are trying to rank for, too. If everybody removed them and stopped abusing meta keywords, Google would probably start looking at them but that’s the way of things in search engines. I ignore meta keywords and remove them from pages I work on.

Meta Description Tag

Like the title element and unlike the meta keywords tag, this one is important, both from a human and search engine perspective. Forget whether or not to put your keyword in it, make it relevant to a searcher and write it for humans, not search engines. If you want to have this 20-word snippet which accurately describes the page you have optimised for one or two keyword phrases when people use Google to search, make sure the keyword is in there.

I must say, I normally do include the keyword in the description as this usually gets it in your SERP snippet. Google looks at the description but there is debate whether it uses the description tag to rank sites. I think they might be at some level, but again, a very weak signal. I certainly don’t know of an example that clearly shows a meta description helping a page rank.

Sometimes, I will ask a question with my titles, and answer it in the description, sometimes I will just give a hint. That is a lot more difficult in 2016 as search snippets change depending on what Google wants to emphasise to its users. It’s also very important to have unique meta descriptions on every page on your site.

Tin Foil Hat Time

Sometimes I think if your titles are spammy, your keywords are spammy, and your meta description is spammy, Google might stop right there – even they probably will want to save bandwidth at some time. Putting a keyword in the description won’t take a crap site to number 1 or raise you 50 spots in a competitive niche – so why optimise for a search engine when you can optimise for a human? – I think that is much more valuable, especially if you are in the mix already – that is – on page one for your keyword.

So, the meta description tag is important in Google, Yahoo and Bing and every other engine listing – very important to get it right.

Make it for humans.

Oh, and by the way – Google seems to truncate anything over @156 characters in the meta description, although this may be limited by pixel width in 2016.

Programmatically Generate Meta Descriptions on Large Sites

Googles says you can programmatically auto-generate unique meta descriptions based on the content of the page.

Follow Googles example:

<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Author: J. K. Rowling, Illustrator: Mary GrandPré, Category: Books, Price: $17.99, Length: 784 pages">

….and their advice why to do this:

No duplication, more information, and everything is clearly tagged and separated. No real additional work is required to generate something of this quality: the price and length are the only new data, and they are already displayed on the site.

I think it is very important to listen when Google tells you to do something in a very specific way, and Google does give clear advice in this area.

 

Robots Meta Tag

I could use the above meta tag to tell Google to index the page but not to follow any links on the page, if for some reason, I did not want the page to appear in Google search results.

 

By default, Googlebot will index a page and follow links to it. So there’s no need to tag pages with content values of INDEX or FOLLOW. GOOGLE

There are various instructions you can make use of in your Robots Meta Tag, but remember Google by default WILL index and follow links, so you have NO need to include that as a command – you can leave the robots meta out completely – and probably should if you don’t have a clue.

Googlebot understands any combination of lowercase and uppercase. GOOGLE.

Valid values for Robots Meta Tag ”CONTENT” attribute are: “INDEX“, “NOINDEX“, “FOLLOW“, and  “NOFOLLOW“.

Example Usage:

  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, NOFOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOARCHIVE”
  • META NAME=”GOOGLEBOT” CONTENT=”NOSNIPPET”

Google will understand the following and interprets the following robots meta tag values:

  • NOINDEX – prevents the page from being included in the index.
  • NOFOLLOW – prevents Googlebot from following any links on the page. (Note that this is different from the link-level NOFOLLOW attribute, which prevents Googlebot from following an individual link.)
  • NOARCHIVE – prevents a cached copy of this page from being available in the search results.
  • NOSNIPPET – prevents a description from appearing below the page in the search results, as well as prevents caching of the page.
  • NOODP – blocks the Open Directory Project description of the page from being used in the description that appears below the page in the search results.
  • NONE – equivalent to “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”.

Robots META Tag Quick Reference

Terms Googlebot Slurp BingBot Teoma
NoIndex YES YES YES YES
NoFollow YES YES YES YES
NoArchive YES YES YES YES
NoSnippet YES NO NO NO
NoODP YES YES YES NO
NoYDIR NO YES NO NO
NoImageIndex YES NO NO NO
NoTranslate YES NO NO NO
Unavailable_After YES NO NO NO

I’ve included the robots meta tag in my tutorial as this IS one of only a few meta tags / HTML head elements I focus on when it comes to managing Googlebot and Bingbot. At a page level – it is a powerful way to control if your pages are returned in search results pages.

These meta tags go in the [HEAD] section of a [HTML] page and represent the only tags for Google I care about. Just about everything else you can put in the [HEAD] of your HTML document is quite unnecessary and maybe even pointless (for Google optimisation, anyway).

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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