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Google does NOT use the meta description or meta keywords tags for rankings

Posted on July 14, 2017

 

I recently received a phone call from a client asking about meta keywords and meta description tags. Engage Web didn’t design or build the website, nor have we ever performed online marketing for it. We have merely done some amends to the website as the company that designed it no longer exists, and they wanted someone who could make some changes for them. This is why they phoned me about making some more changes – changes they’d been led to believe were important.

Now, I could have simply given them a quote to do this and added some meta keywords and meta descriptions tags for them. Instead, I asked them why they wanted these added – suspecting I knew the answer.

Indeed, I was correct. Someone had been in touch with them and told them they needed meta keywords and meta descriptions in order for their website to rank in Google (it currently doesn’t). Yell.com had phoned them and told them this was the case, and another SEO ‘expert’ they’d spoken with also confirmed this was so.

If people are saying it, it must be true. Right?

Wrong.

I told them how the meta keywords and meta description tags were not used by Google, in any capacity, to determine rankings. Don’t believe me? Why not read it for yourself on Google’s own blog?

If you don’t want to head on over to there, you could just watch the video of Google confirming this is the case.

The meta keywords tag has no use, at all. Even Yahoo doesn’t use it. The meta description tag, while not used for rankings in any way at all, does have a use, although it should be highlighted that it isn’t necessary and, in some cases, is best left out.

I’ll explain – the meta description is sometimes used by Google to display under your website’s title when your website appears in Google for a search. Remember, the contents of the meta description DO NOT affect your rankings, so adding keywords to it is pointless. Instead, you should write something that encourages someone to click on your website link – perhaps one of your USPs, or your price, or a call-to-action to contact you for a quote, chat or a coffee?

If, and I do mean if, you use one it should be unique on every page of your website. Even if you do use one, it doesn’t mean Google will display it. Google will choose what it feels is the most relevant text on the page of your website it is returning in the search results. That could be your meta description, or it could be something else entirely. If you leave out your meta description, Google will have to choose content from the page – which means it’s more likely to be relevant to the search someone has entered.

So you see, a meta description isn’t necessary and might even be detrimental. If you do use them, ensure they are unique.

As for so-called SEO experts claiming the meta keywords and meta descriptions are important for your Google rankings – well, they’re the sort of people who give this industry a bad name. They spread falsehoods in an attempt to win business, and have no real idea what they’re doing.

Of course, my feelings on Yell.com are well documented…

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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