The Facts and Fiction of Meta Tags

It amazes me sometimes, the amount of outdated and mis-information that can be found on the internet.

One of the best examples would certainly have to be Meta Tags. I still talk to people that are of the firm belief that all they have to do is add the proper META tags to a site and that site will automagically rank for their target terms. Where do they get this information? The internet of course.

With that in mind, I've decided to put down the fact and fiction regarding META tags as of 2007.

First, for anyone who is new to the net and unsure of what a META tag is, let me define what exactly META tags are.

META tags, are bits of code that are placed within the <head> tags of a webpage. Their intent was and is, to give
information on certain aspects of that page to software programs (such as search engine spiders) without that information being readily visible to the normal visitor.

The two best known (and misunderstood) META tags are the "description" and "keywords" META tags. It is the outdated and false information that is associated with these two tags that is the reason I am writing this article.

Let's start with the description tag. The META description tag was designed to give robots visiting your page a brief description of what that page is about. It is this description that is often used along with the page title in the SERPs (search engine results pages). So, by adding the META description tag to a page, you are able to (sometimes) control the text used to describe that page in the SERPs.

The question is, does the META description help with the actual ranking of the page. At one point in time, yes, it did. Does it today? NO! Not at ALL. on to the META keywords tag. This particular tag, was originally intended to give robots indexing a page a list of keywords that particular page was about. This was a BIG thing. This tag literally allowed you to TELL the search engines WHAT keywords that page was supposed to rank for. Wow...imagine the possibilities.

Well, MANY people imagined the possibilities and MANY people to FULL advantage of them. So many, that within a matter of just a year or two of it's initial use, almost none of the top engines even used it anymore. As of today, NONE of the top engines use the keywords tag in any way for ranking purposes.

So...does the keyword tag still have any uses? Nope. The thought was nice, but the greed of many webmasters quickly made this tag obsolete and useless. You will still find many sites using this tag as it doesn't hurt anything, but it has absolutely no beneficial affect on ranking any longer.

To summarize, neither the META description or keywords tags have any positive affect on rankings. The only one of these two tags that has any use is the keywords tag and that is simply to assist in controlling the description used in the search engine listings.

If you run into someone telling you they will work with your META tags to help your rankings RUN, don't walk away from them!

See you at the top!

John Buchanan