Does Google Value Quality Meta Keywords and Descriptions?

Google is the world’s most-used search engine. It handles billions of searches every day and is responsible for directing vast amounts of traffic to websites.

As a result, web admins and site owners are always keen to optimize their sites for Google and other search engines. One of the better means to do this is by optimizing the meta tags on their pages, particularly the meta keywords, and descriptions. However, there has been much debate over the years about whether Google uses these tags when ranking sites.

In this blog, we will explore the topic in-depth and try to answer the question, Does Google use meta keywords and descriptions?”

What Are Meta Keywords and Descriptions?

Before we continue, let’s define meta keywords and descriptions. Meta tags are pieces of code included in the head section of a web page’s HTML.

They provide information about the page’s content to search engines and other web services. There are many types of meta tags out there. However, we will focus on meta keywords and descriptions in this article.

Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are a list of keywords relevant to a page’s content. They were once an essential part of SEO, as they allowed webmasters to tell search engines what their pages were about. The idea was to include relevant keywords in the meta tags. This way, search engines could understand the page’s content and rank it accordingly.

However, over time, this practice has been abused by web admins. They stuffed their meta tags with irrelevant or spammy keywords. As a result, Google and other search engines have largely ignored meta keywords in their ranking algorithms.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions, on the other hand, summarize the content on a web page. They are typically around 160 characters long. They are intended to give search engine users a preview of what they can expect to find on the page. Meta descriptions are still an essential part of SEO.

They can influence whether or not a user clicks through to a page from the search results. A poorly written meta description might turn off users, while a well-crafted one can persuade them to click through.

Does Google Use Meta Keywords and Descriptions?

The short answer is no; Google does not use meta keywords in its ranking algorithm. Google officially announced in 2009 that it had stopped using meta keywords altogether. This was because web admins had abused the practice of including meta keywords in their pages.

They often stuff them with irrelevant or spammy keywords to manipulate search rankings. Google recognized this problem and decided to stop using meta keywords as a ranking factor.

Reasons Why Google Does Not Use Meta Keywords

There are a few reasons why Google stopped using meta keywords. 

Firstly, As Mentioned Above, Web Admins Widely Abused the Practice.

They tried manipulating search rankings by stuffing their meta tags with irrelevant or spammy keywords. This made it difficult for search engines to determine the actual relevance of a page’s content. Thus, this led to poor search results for users.

Secondly, Google’s Algorithm Has Become Much More Sophisticated Over the Years.

It can now understand a page’s content without relying on meta keywords. Google’s algorithm uses a range of signals to determine the relevance of a page to a particular search query. This includes the page’s content, its structure, and its links. These signals are much more reliable indicators of a page’s relevance than meta keywords. As we all know, meta keywords can be easily manipulated.

Finally, Google Has Shifted From Individual Keywords to More Holistic Concepts and Topics.

Google’s algorithm now looks for pages that are authoritative on a particular topic rather than simply matching keywords. This means that even if a page does include relevant keywords in its content, it may not rank well. This is if it is not considered to be an authority on the topic.

person wearing yellow sweater using silver laptop computer on brown table
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Does Google Use Meta Descriptions?

While Google doesn’t use meta keywords in its ranking algorithm, it does use meta descriptions. As mentioned earlier, meta descriptions provide a brief summary of the content on a web page. They can influence whether or not a user clicks through to the page from the search results. Google uses meta descriptions as a way of providing users with a preview of what they can expect to find on the page. And as such, they can have an impact on click-through rates.

However, it’s important to note that Google doesn’t use meta descriptions as a direct ranking factor. Having a well-written meta description won’t necessarily cause a page to rank higher in the search results. Instead, Google uses meta descriptions to encourage users to click through to a page. This can indirectly affect the page’s ranking. If a page has a high click-through rate from the search results, Google may see this as an indicator. It shows that the page is highly relevant to the search query and may therefore rank the page higher.

How to Write Effective Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions can have an impact on click-through rates. Writing effective ones that entice users to click through to your page is important. Here are some tips for writing effective meta descriptions:

Keep It Brief

Meta descriptions should be at most 160 characters. This is the maximum length that Google will display in the search results. Make sure your description fits within this limit.

Use Keywords

While Google doesn’t use meta keywords, it does still use keywords as a way of understanding the content of a page. Make sure your meta description contains applicable keywords. This can help Google understand the topic of your page.

Be Descriptive

Your meta description should provide a defined summary of the content on your page. Make sure to highlight the most important aspects of your content. Use language that is convincing and easy to understand.

Stand Out

Your meta description should stand out from the other search results on the page. Consider using numbers, symbols, or other attention-grabbing elements to make your description more compelling.

Test and Refine

Like any aspect of SEO, writing effective meta descriptions requires testing and refinement. Monitor your click-through rates and adjust your meta descriptions to improve performance.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Google does not use meta keywords in its ranking algorithm. This is because web admins widely abused the practice in the past. Also, Google’s algorithm has become much more sophisticated over the years. 

However, Google still uses meta descriptions to provide users with a preview of the content on a page. While meta descriptions don’t directly impact a page’s ranking, they can indirectly influence click-through rates.

As such, it’s important to write effective meta descriptions that entice users to click through to your page. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can improve the performance of your meta descriptions. This will increase the likelihood of users visiting your site.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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