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Google Says No Need to Tag Along

23 09 2009

It seems that meta tags are no longer worth the paper they are printed on.  Google does not actually use the tags that we add to our posts for search.  

At a recent event (the video is included below)  Matt Cutts who works as a software engineer specialising in search engine optimisation (SEO) at the Search Quality Group in Google, gave this somewhat startling information in response to a question.  He said that Google “disregards keyword meta tags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present”.  The reason being that they had been abused so extensively is the past.  Essentially this means that Google regards tagging as ‘black hat’ (or unethical SEO) irrespective of how responsibly the tagging is done. 

Google does however use the meta description (essentially the short summary tag) in some cases to offer a description of the page in the search results but they still don’t use this in the ranking.  So as far as Google is concerned the content is what matters (and the headline or the H1 tag as it is known in SEO circles).  So for the very first time I am going to add a blog post without meta tags…and hold my breath.

Google’s Matt Cutts

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9 responses

23 09 2009
Simon Wharton

Rob

The keywords meta tag has been ignored for quite some time. Your page title tag and your H1, H2 are your killers. Use the meta description, perhaps 160 characters, to contain the term you are working on and a call to action so that it stands out in the SERPs.

The usual rider of writing meaningful and useful copy follows

23 09 2009
Rob Brown

Simon – it was a surprise to me although it’s no surprise to me that it’s not a surprise to you. If you know what I mean!

23 09 2009
KATE BUTLER

I am imagine this will come as a surprise to many [non-SEO] people! Thanks for flagging it up.

Tags do still have their uses though, so I’m not sure it’s a good idea to omit them altogether. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how your first tagless post fares.

24 09 2009
Mark Hanson

Good post and something I didn’t know. Tags are still good for navigating your own site, so still useful.

But here’s to a web world that’s driven by content!

24 09 2009
David Edmundson-Bird

You might find this amazing too, but we have been teaching digital marketing students on DM programmes at MMU that meta tags have no influence on ranking, but are as Mark Hanson points out, good for navigating your own site.

7 02 2012
Reyes

just being a bit peiantdc, but the Title tag is not a meta tag, it’s a html tag. Only the description (which google uses and nearly all search engines use) or the keywords (which some search engines use) are meta tags when talking about SEO.

8 02 2012
roasaek

Thanks for snhirag the matt cutts video. My best practie is to keep the title less than 65 characters.

16 10 2009
Polprav

Hello from Russia!
Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

31 10 2009
Chris Nindl

As already mentioned, we should not totally neglect the keywords meta tag since I think it has some influence in rankings in other search engines like Yahoo, Ask.

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