One question clients are asking is: do Meta keywords actually matter for search engine results? Meta keywords are the keywords which are written into the source code for websites that are supposed to tell a search engine what keywords the site is relevant for when generating search results. The keywords are how a search engine knows to consider a site for ranking in search results, but with the advances in web crawling technology the keywords may or may not be obsolete.
Keywords started as the method for telling a search engine if someone searches for X terms then consider displaying this website in the results. The search engines use bots to crawl the code and content of websites in order to determine relevancy. (For more information about basic search engine optimization click here) The relevancy of any website is based upon the keywords matching the content and the date of when the content was generated. The search engines match the keywords to the content in order to prevent people from scamming the results by entering irrelevant keywords into their source code. The content of the website is another determining factor when deciding whether a website should be displayed in search engine results. The two components of keywords and content combine to determine what searches a site is relevant for and when to display a site, so the question is whether or not content has replaced keywords.
Replacing keywords with a pure content driven result would in fact be the best form of results for a search engine query because the results would be based upon the actual content of the site instead of taking the site owners’ word for the keywords. By crawling the content of the site and cataloging the keywords the search engine can give the best results for a user’s query. In fact according to Google the Meta keywords are now irrelevant and the content is the source for keywords. Below this paragraph is a video of a Google employee named Matt Cutts who talks about the use of keywords. According to Matt the keywords are irrelevant in Google search results. Matt talks instead about using the title and description as the better means for communicating keywords. If Google is moving or has moved to a completely content driven search result then the use of keywords is almost obsolete. However, it is not necessarily as simple as it may appear.
Recently Intel awarded its Young Scientist of the Year honors to Nicholas Schiefer seen in the video below this paragraph. Nicholas is a 17 year old scientist who may have created an algorithm that can be used to extract keywords from social media content. The potential genius of the algorithm is its ability to analyze short amounts of content from things like Twitter posts, Facebook posts, etc. and extract keywords. The fact that this is being considered genius leads one to question why the video from Google’s employee claims content is everything for search engine results and keywords are obsolete. If Google can extract keywords from content then why is the algorithm developed by Nicholas considered revolutionary? Perhaps Google cannot extract keywords from content that is short in length.
For anyone who has used Google+ one of the most effective ways to have a post found by a search engine is to use the title function. Google+ allows a user to create a title for a post by entering *Title or Name of the Post* at the top of a post. The title seems to generate better search results than the content of the post. If the Google algorithm is unable to extract keywords from short content then this would explain the need and use for titles in posts. When e-vos launched its website the search engines viewed the company name e-vos as two separate words. In fact the most relevant keyword for the company site was “vos” which is neither a word nor something anyone might search to find the company. The content cataloging for keywords set the website back because the search engines were improperly determining the keywords based upon content. The search engines began to view the site properly and changed the keyword from vos to e-vos after the Meta keywords were entered into the source code.
The question remains are Meta keywords still relevant for search engine indexing. From the experience of e-vos’ website, the fact Nicholas is being awarded honors for his algorithm, and the use of titles inside Google+ it seems search engines still have at least some issues with extracting keywords directly from content. The future of search engine results is most likely indexing generated purely from keywords based on content, but until the technology is in place to properly extract keywords it is still good practice for website owners to continue maintaining their keywords. Maintaining keywords is especially important if the website or social media uses a small amount of content to convey its message. If nothing else maintaining the keywords can act as a safety mechanism in order to take the guess work out of the process for the search engine.