Meta Tags Explained

I understand that Title, Keyword, and Description “meta tags” are invisible lines of code on a web page that impact search engine ranking. I’ve also read that search engines do not use the Keyword meta tag anymore. Is this true? If so, what’s the point of the Keyword meta tag?

When you do a search on Google for “Solar Energy” one of the top listings is:

Renewable Energy Access - Source For Renewable Energy News and...

A portal for renewable energy information. Search the renewable energy business directory, participate in a live products auction, get the latest solar... - 48k - Apr 4, 2007

The first line “Renewable Energy Access - Source For Renewable Energy News and ...” is the contents of the Title meta tag.

The next line “A portal for renewable energy information. Search the renewable energy business directory, participate in a live products auction, get the latest solar ...”

Is the contents of the Description meta tag.

To see the meta tags on a page, even this one, View the Page Source. In Internet Explorer 7, click "Page" then "View Source". In Firefox, click "View" then "Page Source". This is what you'll see:

So, obviously, these two tags are extremely important. As far as Google is concerned, these are like the cover of your magazine. Clear, descriptive, and accurate information here is the most important aspect of your search engine presence.

One of the key functions that Google performs with these is to compare the text of these tags with the content of the page and the website. “Renewable Energy” is mentioned twice in the title and twice in the description. Google’s first analysis when deciding how to rank this page is to see how many times it is mentioned in the text of the page.  

Does it help to mention it a hundred times? How about 500?

No! To do so it would be obvious to Google that you are trying to ‘trick’ them into giving you a higher ranking. Google has highly secret algorithms that determine this. Typically, as a part of the search engine optimization analysis, we would count the number of times “Renewable Energy” appears on higher ranked sites, and the percentage of the total number of words that “Renewable Energy” comprises.

The Keyword meta tag is no longer used by search engines because they no longer trust us to tell them what our website is about is keywords – search engines get more accurate information by analyzing your website themselves. The keywords, through, are an ideal place to make notes to yourself about what you want the page to rank highly for.

If, for example, you put the words “Solar Energy Renewable Power Photovoltaic PV Sustainable Alternative…” then basic search engine optimization tools will compare these, the keywords you want, with the google listings and content of your site to see if you are meeting your own goals. In addition, if you have your own internal search engine for your site, it typically uses the keyword tag.

Pay attention to your title and descriptions as they will appear on your search engine listings. Use your keyword tag to help you keep your site relevant to the keywords you want to show up for.

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