There is one question that we are asked more than any other, and we get it even to this very day. The thing is, it’s the same question I asked 6 years ago. We’ve seen trends come and go since then, and still there is one question that still, somehow has merit.

How do meta tags impact SEO?
In my opinion, this is the single most interesting question in our industry. Not because of the answer (that’s simple enough and we’ll certainly cover it); but because it’s a question that I don’t think will ever die out.

Think about it. This is one of the very first topics one would cover when being introduced to SEO. There are thousands/millions of articles talking about that very thing. And every day, someone new comes to this world we’ve created, and they are ripe with new questions; the answers to which we have stored away just waiting for the moment to showcase our knowledge.

So today, I’m going to go over the most common meta tags we talk about in SEO, and how they affect your rankings (here’s a quick hint; they barely do anymore). The Keywords Meta Tag Ahh the keywords meta tag. This is a tag that would hold…well…your keywords. I think. I don’t really know for sure because their use in Google went away before I got into SEO myself, and they meant something different to Yahoo! (RIP) back then.

Some say it’s where you would put your keywords so the search engines would know what your site was all about, and they were used to determine your rankings. Others say that they were meant to house the keywords that were not mentioned on your page, but still related.

What I do know is this. At some point Google got really tired of people using the keywords meta tag to spam their search results, and they all but eradicated its use. There was a time even rather recently (comparatively speaking) that they had an impact in Yahoo!, but those days are gone as well; what with Yahoo! being powered by Bing now.

There are still some programs/applications that make use of the keywords meta tags on your site, usually for internal site searching, but that doesn’t help you on the SEO front that much.

No, I’m afraid that meta tag has little to do with SEO these days. Save for one use.

We actually use the keywords meta tag quite a bit. Not for rankings, mind you. Rather, we use them in one of 2 ways.

First, for smaller, quick projects we use the keywords tag to catalog the targeted terms for each page. This way, we know what links to build for each page, it helps with our internal linking and it helps when we are writing content. It just somehow fell into a process of ours one day and really worked out. Remember, this is for smaller projects in which we have a lot of confidence regarding our success. Usually local SEO clients.

Then there’s the way we use them for bigger projects (not necessarily bigger clients). These are sites for which we are trying to rank in a very competitive niche. We can usually tell which competitors have hired SEO help and which haven’t. We noticed that when the landscape involved other SEO firms, then we could make a change on our site’s focus, and it was soon after mimicked on a competitor’s site.