One of the best ways of getting a website noticed is using proven Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, practices. Quite a few years ago, this meant relying heavily on the meta keyword tag. Get ready for a startling revelation (not really!): updating the meta keyword tag is useless. Way back in 2009, Google announced that they were no longer using the meta keyword tag for ranking websites. Other giant search engines like Yahoo and Bing followed suit.
Yet, after more than a decade, people are still worried about the keyword meta tags on their websites. Let’s settle this debate by defining keyword meta tags, why you don’t need to update them and the SEO techniques that will get your website noticed by search engines.
Wait. What is a Meta Keyword Tag?
To understand meta keyword tags, it’s necessary to travel back to the mid-1990s when the public was just really catching on to this thing called the Internet. Search engines at this period were quite basic. Each one essentially crawled across the expanding web, creating a database that was searchable. Meta tags, like the keyword meta tag, told the search engine the topic of a particular website.
These meta tags were all put out there by webmasters who were free to put in any keywords they liked. The search engines had to trust webmasters to only use correct, appropriate keyword meta tags.
That didn’t last long. Webmasters soon discovered that if they stuck frequently searched keywords into their meta tags, they got a lot more traffic. Of course, those keywords frequently had nothing to do with the actual content on the website.
The people running the various search engines caught on to this scam, and they knew that they had to make some changes. Search engines became more sophisticated. They began looking at new and different ranking factors that were more reliable because they didn’t rely solely on the trustworthiness of webmasters.
When Google entered the scene, they had a whole new algorithm that bypassed keyword meta tags. Instead, they looked for how many outside websites linked back to a particular website. The more outside links there were, the more credibility that website was seen to possess. This too was adjusted over time, although as you’ll see below Backlinks are still very important.
SEO is NOT About “Updating Your Keyword Tags”
Google was a pioneer in this field, and by 2009, they made a formal announcement that keyword meta tags would no longer play any part in ranking websites in search results. Other search engines followed suit. Nonetheless, some webmasters still insist upon updating their keyword tags.
You won’t be penalized for doing so, but you’re wasting your time. Google is not looking at those tags, and neither are the other search engines. Your competitors may be though – so might be a good idea to just skip it.
What About the Meta Descriptions Tag?
Evidence suggests that the meta description tag remains helpful. Google probably still uses this tag as a ranking factor. Moreover, when a customer is searching the web, they’ll see your title tag and then your meta description tag. This brief introduction and summary are extremely helpful for enticing people to click on your link. And Google certainly considers “click through rate” when ranking a website.
What Really Matters for SEO
If meta keyword tags genuinely serve no purpose any longer, what do you need to do to help drive traffic to your website and to keep the public coming back for more?
The answer lies in various SEO techniques, many of which require more time and effort than updating the keyword tag. Spending all of that time and effort on SEO may sound exhausting, but it’s totally worth it. In fact, the survival of your company may depend upon it.
Here is a closer look at the main components of useful, reliable SEO techniques.
No one can afford to ignore the quality of the content on their website and blog. All of your copy and posts should provide helpful, meaningful information. This means that your content is designed to appeal to human readers rather than the bots and algorithms used by search engines.
Great content is truthful and straightforward. It’s also credible. If possible, use authoritative links, citations and research to back up any claims. Reviews and testimonials can be content home runs too. Never copy any content from other websites, aiming instead for unique, readable and engaging text.
Make your content sing with images, diagrams and videos. Ensure engagement by providing places where visitors can interact with representatives from the company. Social media widgets and comment boxes can do amazing things to engage visitors.
This is where things can get complicated. When it comes to technical SEO, you could have as many as 200 items to consider. First among these is the combined power of your title tag and meta description. As mentioned above, search engines and website visitors use these tags to find you and to make a decision regarding whether or not to click on your website. Make certain that your title and description tags are accurate and attractive.
Another important factor is ensuring that your website is mobile friendly. More people are using mobile devices to search the web, and you can’t afford to have a website that’s not optimized for mobile viewing.
Also, don’t neglect to create and optimize an XML sitemap for your website. Sitemaps make it easier for Google to locate and index each page of your website. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure that your website is optimized for speed and that you’re running regular technical audits to check for glitches and errors.
Internal links and Backlinks are critical to your website’s success. The smart use of internal links on your own website keeps people clicking around on your domain, giving them more of a chance to engage with your great content and your organization. Additionally, Google likes to see you linking to your own content. If you don’t think your content is important enough to link to, why should Google rank it?
Just as important: you’ll also want to ensure that other websites are linking back to your website. External links indicate that your website is viewed as trustworthy and authoritative, something that search engines consider critical when ranking results. The BEST way to get backlinks is by writing content that is so good people want to share it. You can also run a Guest Post campaign where you try to get people to let you write on their website and link back to you.
Not every website needs to have a global focus. If your website represents your local shop or service, then you’ll want to run a Local SEO campaign so that people in the same geographical area will be able to find you. Local SEO will help your business show up in more search results in areas where you are located.
Get Reliable Ranking Help
Hundreds of other SEO techniques are being used to get websites noticed. However, some older techniques, like updating the keyword meta tag, have fallen by the wayside. Time and effort spent on meta keyword tags are simply wasted.
This is why it is crucial to work with professionals who understand today’s more complex search engine algorithms and how to get websites noticed. They will steer you away from the outdated factors and toward the really important things that are far more likely to get your website noticed by a much wider audience.