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Meta Tags - Do they work?

Ok, I've just finished "optimizing" my websites with Meta Tags for keywords and description. 

Do search engines use Meta Tags anymore to move you higher up on a search?

Or is it based on content and links now?

Is adding Meta Tag keywords worthwhile anymore?

Just wondering....thanks!

Squidward
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Are there search engines that use META tags? Yes. Does Google? No. So, the question is: does it matter? That's up to you.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Brad,

are you sure about Google. I thought it was taken into account (just as a single factor into a complex mix), and as long as it sort of matched the content and you kept it to a small set (6 or less?), it was a positive on those terms.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

http://webmasterworld.com/

Scan the forums, there are people there who have a very detailed understanding of the pagerank algorithm. 

One nice thing about the Description meta tag is that it should be used by the search engine to create a coherent listing for your result rather than a random excerpt of relevent text.

Lou
Thursday, May 13, 2004

You can do a simple test do find out if google uses them: make a page with a unique non-existent word in the meta tag. Search for it. Voila!

TomA
Thursday, May 13, 2004

I don't know about pagerank, but I DO know for sure that Google uses the description meta tag when displaying your page in the results.  I added every meta tag I could to a particular site that I wanted ranked well, as well as used "proper HTML" (i.e. make use of things like <h1></h1> and <th></th> tags and put keywords in them, because spiders will understand the text inside headers to be summarizing the content and there fore a more important guage of the relevance)

That site is ranked #1 or #2 on Google for three or four different search terms that would be commonly entered when looking for that subject matter.  Of course, its a specialized market, but I was happy to at least see that all that SEO crap actually did something.  I got a lot of great free info from http://www.spider-food.net

Clay Whipkey
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Google does not use the description meta tag when displaying your page in the results. It displays an excerpt from the page. That's one of the reasons why they cache in RAM the portion of the Web that they index.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

"You can do a simple test do find out if google uses them: make a page with a unique non-existent word in the meta tag. Search for it. Voila!"

And that's a test that only takes a month to execute!

Benji Smith
Thursday, May 13, 2004

"Traffick.com's Andrew Goodman wrote recently in an essay about meta tags, 'If somebody would just declare the end of the metatag era, full stop, it would make it easier on everyone.'

"I'm happy to oblige, at least in the case of the meta keywords tag. Now supported by only one major crawler-based search engine -- Inktomi -- the value of adding meta keywords tags to pages seems little worth the time. In my opinion, the meta keywords tag is dead, dead, dead. And like Andrew, good riddance, I say!"


From Danny Sullivan, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165061

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Not a good riddance at all, Joel. The original purpose of, say, "keywords" tag was to provide synonyms for the words contained in text. When you had page talking all the way about progammers, and added "software developers" and "coders" to keywords tag, and people looking for either ended up finding it. The birth of SEO has quickly buried this useful concept, but I really don't see why be happy about it.

Egor
Thursday, May 13, 2004

It's dead for a pretty good reason: search engine spam. You could put whatever you wanted into the KEYWORDS meta tag, have it never show up anywhere on your page, and end up being the hit for a search that has absolutely nothing to do with your page.

Google got it right. Read the page. Look at who links to you, and with what terms. That's the meaningful information. Brilliant bit of deduction, honestly.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, May 14, 2004

If I was going to bottom line this, I'd say MetaTags are a waste of time for Google, the only search engine that matters much. 

But being a webmaster, I do the MetaTags anyways now for due diligence for when I get spidered by other search engines.  You never know when the odd search on the odd search engine will bring you a customer.

Gotta cover all bases.

squidward
Friday, May 14, 2004

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