With all the different variables and algorithms out there affecting your SEO rankings, it is not uncommon for a rumor or ‘myth’ to propagate regarding what to do and what not to do in order to get website traffic. During my time in the SEO field I have heard on a number of occasions people tell me that ‘Google no longer looks at meta tags’ or ‘Google no longer looks at keyword tags’. I’ll explain where this rumor came from, how it became mixed up and why it’s not only untrue, but dangerous to ignore.
How it got mixed up.
During Google’s inception, meta/title tags looked pretty similar to how they do now in the back end of the website. Containing multiple categories for search engine placement, the popular tags were the title tag, the description tag and the KEYWORD tag. The problem with the keyword tag was its high potential to be misused. Say Justin Bieber was trending that month and a lot of people were searching for news on him, website owners and developers would just fill their keyword tags with his name to get an abundance of meaningless traffic to their website. This caused Google, Yahoo and Bing to make one of their first algorithm adjustments and modified the importance level of the keyword tag.
Take a look at this search engine search below for plumbers Philadelphia done the day this article was written:
See the bright blue letters? That’s the title tag. Notice the first result along with the second page result below it both contain plumbers or plumbing and the name Philadelphia. The text or sentence below? That’s the description tag. Google is obviously taking the title and description tag into consideration. Do the test for yourself!
There unfortunately is no magic bullet, though.
Do not by any means think meta tags are your saving grace or magic bullet to SEO, they certainly are not and if implemented improperly can actually DAMAGE your rankings. Nevertheless, know moving forward when someone tells you ‘meta tags are meaningless’ they are mistaking. Only ONE of the meta tags, the keyword tag, has been deemed irrelevant.