The meta tags and their involvement in SE ranking
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Many seo professionals now days tell you that the meta tags are not important anymore, they are no longer even considered by the big 3. Is this true or could using meta tags some how improve my rankings on any of the search engines? We also see the other extreme, using the meta tags and stuffing them with your keywords will have negative effects on your rankings.
Thankfully we don’t need to guess on this, we have studies which prove in my mind without a doubt where the meta tags stand in this new world of seo.
Really I hate using the words “meta tags” anymore, I think many webmasters really do not understand what the meta tags were created for, they have this idea that the meta tags are a way for them to tell Google, MSN or Yahoo! to list them on the 1st page for whatever keywords they desire. Unfortunately they are very wrong. The meta keywords tag was originally established as a ranking method to yes tell the search engines your relation in the world of internet. The internet was new and nobody really knew how to effectively rank sites so techniques were introduced to help the search engines in this dilemma.
The meta keywords tag has since been spammed very heavily as well as the description and title tags. Anything to get that desired 1st page ranking. So my question is this, why would any search engine in their right mind continue to use a method which is so easily spammed, which anybody can use. Why should a little box saying “I think these keywords are what I am about” be used to rank a site? Afterall if I can do that so easily why not step a little farther out, maybe target semi-related keywords… what is stopping me?
Now I personally think that is very logical thinking… the question is are the search engines acting logical? To answer that question we and a few other people have done some testing.
First lets see what a Navy officer can tell us about the meta tags…. Meta Keywords test conclusions
According to his tests neither Google nor MSN responded to the keywords tag by ranking the page… btw the keyword used was obscure, not a real word. This correlates very well with my research of the three search engines. MSN may be a long ways behind Yahoo as far as traffic goes but they are leaps ahead in turns of algo and ranking. Don’t get me wrong, they have many problems and have a ways to go before even sighting Google ahead. However MSN is smart enough to know when to drop certain aspects of the algo. I will come back to that point…
What about the other tags? The title and description tags? Well Mr Navy didn’t test these apparently but I did a little of my own testing and here is what I came up with…
The title tag effects rankings in all three search engines, no doubts what-so-ever. Heavily spamming the title tag can have negative effects for Google rankings. Well I can’t say positively you would call them negative effects, actually I would be more inclined to call it positive effects to removing stuffing from the title tag. However upon stuffing the keyword tag we always saw a drop so I guess you can say both
The title tag seems to also play a role in ranking in MSN and Yahoo. We noted changes as good as 2-3 pages positive ranking increase. Upon changing the title back the original ranking returned and is now again at the new title.
I should also make it clear that you should always use the meta tags as they were designed. Want to use the keywords tag? Thats fine but don’t stuff it with keywords, list a few. Use the title to describe what that particular page is about, in doing this it may have a impact on your rankings to a small degree however the big factor is when the searchers are scanning the google page, if your title is stuffed with nonesense you can be sure you will lose a good number of visitors who might have clicked in. This also goes for the description tag, write your meta tags as if robots did not exist, create them with the searchers in mind. I can guarantee you will see an increase in CTR if you do this.
I know the meta tags are ancient history but that is not necessarily the case to many webmasters, many of them still fail to realize how important and yet how unimportant they are. Using the title/description tags incorrectly can cause you great harm and yet using them correctly can give you a great benefit just from the increase of CTR. So next time you see somebody say the meta tags don’t matter answer… “yes they do and here is why…”
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