Do meta keywords work anymore?

As a web design and online marketing professional, I’m often asked to help my customer move up higher in their search rankings on Google and other search engines. And often they have heard some information about how to do this, or have some ideas of what works and what doesn’t.

As with everything in the technology world, things change very quickly.

What is Google’s Goal?

The most important thing to keep in mind is the intent and purpose of search engines. Any search engine, no matter how big and popular, will close its doors if it fails to provide good, relevant results when you type something in the box and press search. If the results are terrible and filled with sites that don’t help you, then you as a consumer will turn to another tool.

As a result, the search engines must spend a lot of their energy eliminating sites from the search results if those sites are trying to game the system. For example, in the early days of the Internet, some websites would copy every word in the dictionary and place it in small type at the bottom of their homepages. Therefore if someone searched for that word, their site might pop up. Search engines realized this was happening, and began to give weight to “hidden” clues on the website, such as keyword tags and site descriptions. These were items that didn’t appear to the public, but were readable by the computer coding of web browsers and search engines.

It didn’t take long for scammers to figure out this game, as well, and they quickly began loading their sites with meta keywords, again copying the dictionary to list every word.

As time has progressed, search engines have become more and more sophisticated.

Meta Keywords are Out

Now here we are in 2014, and the honest-to-goodness best way to achieve a good search ranking is to (gasp!) have pages on your site that are about your topic of interest! So if you want to rank well for Allergist Columbus Ohio, its important to have content that is relevant to people with allergies in Columbus, Ohio. That’s the case with our client, Midwest Allergy, which has been ranking number one on Google for “allergist columbus ohio” for more than a year.

There are other tricks, too, such as regularly publishing fresh content and connecting that content to social media accounts and other online links with high traffic.

Notice all these “tricks” are related to CONTENT, not crazy techie computer tricks. It all comes back to have good content, and correctly labeling that content so search engines can identify it easily.

The answer to the question I lead with is this: meta keywords are becoming passe. This is so true that the leading Search Engine Optimization tool for WordPress sites has keywords excluded by default. Some experts have theorized that including meta keywords actually hurts your site, because the search engines lump you in with the folks trying to game the system.

We feel that a balanced approach is necessary, but most important is working with a company that is focused on quality content and keeps up with the latest news on search algorithms and content-based marketing.

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