I-Search #125: Meta Keywords

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             "Understanding Internet Search Technology"
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Disa Johnson                                       SearchReturn
April 17, 2007                            SearchReturn Issue #125
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                   .....IN THIS DIGEST.....


            "Meta Keywords"
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==> Meta Keywords

Essential Tip:  The Meta Keywords container has gotten less and
less important as legacy engines like Infoseek disappeared.  The
truth of the matter is that keywords were often so stuffed as to
render the thing practically useless as a signal for what words
search engines should care about with a page of code, especially
as awareness about the usefulness of inbound linking grew with
the advent of Google.

Inbound linking is now getting just as polluted as keywords have
ever been in the past, with commercial intent contributing to the
noise and influencing the ranking process just as falsely.  Since
inbound links work great today, it is no wonder that most SEOs
concentrate their time and effort building links.  They typically
neglect Meta Keywords altogether.

In this SR Tip, we will re-examine Meta Keywords and discover
hidden treasure that authoring an excellent keywords container
provides.  The rankings of tomorrow can shift and change just as
quickly, perhaps quicker, than they have in the past.  We ask for
you to rethink your approach, and consider the real benefits of
Meta Keywords.

Should you care about keywords anymore?

The Meta Keywords container is designed for search applications.
There is no disputing that if the search engines could rely on
the webmaster community for being honest and pure with their use
of keywords, they would not hesitate to make it more important
for rankings.  Why not pay in and be honest and pure now?

Microsoft has stated, and Google has implied, that they care not
for using page keywords for any influence on their rankings.
Regardless, Yahoo! continues to allow some minor influence since
theory suggests the inherent quality of keywords can in fact
provide for a better search application.

A roughly accurate search engine could be designed solely on the
basis of indexing Meta Keywords alone.  It would have reasonable
reliability with accuracy (outside the commercial noise).  This
means the container is not completely devoid of usefulness.

Going further along this line of thinking, applications that can
use keywords include everything from specialized desktop or
network search to full-blown website search.  If you want users
to have a good experience with site search, consider the keywords
container and how you can influence the result set including
common queries in your Meta Keywords for custom crafted results.

Most site search is terrible; just horrifically bad.  If you
approach Meta Keywords with this in mind, you could automatically
include the best keywords for ideal responses, influencing the
application and making interactivity with your users a better
experience.  That leads to reaching more goals with loyalty, and
a better perception of your business.

Most importantly, inbound links have been polluted ever since the
advent of Google.  Very few asked for an exchange of links, or
sought large numbers of commercially available links with
specific text unless the linking itself was deemed to be valuable
by traffic alone.  Then inbound links meant Google rankings.

The quality of rankings has decreased sharply as people have been
able to "artificially inflate" their popularity by gaming inbound
links for Google.  It seems this erosion is not dissimilar to the
way that Meta Keywords once were highly important.

Meta Keywords are not at all likely to be as important as inbound
linking.  Rather, inbound links, the kind you can solicit, may be
doomed for a fall to a much lower level of importance.  We
believe where and how well you are connected via linking as
social bookmarks, and actually cited by the cleanest, purest
third party resources will continue to dictate how well you do in
search engines over the next five years or so.

Thoughtfully applied Meta Keywords, however, have uses beyond the
major search engines that you can enjoy while knowing they play a
minor role of influence on your rankings in Yahoo!.  All things
being equal, it may just be enough to have you appear above a
competing listing where the other webmaster neglected them.

Meta Keywords

Author an unique set of Meta Keywords for each page.  Meta
Keywords is the only appropriate place for alternate and correct
spellings, as well as the only appropriate place for commonly
misspelled keywords to appear.

Use words that are found in the body of the page itself as much
as possible.  Consider your nouns as naturally occurring primary
search terms for inclusion.  Find other words that you would
highlight with a marking pen for the search user as you go
through the document.

Use commas.  Do not repeat items exactly.  Do not bother with
altering case in order to repeat items.  All lower case is fine.
Avoid repeating any single word more than three times throughout
the container.  Avoid more than twelve items total; remember less
is more.

Fewer terms provide more power to each item individually.  Start
with the most important and end with the least important.  Go
with five items (or even fewer) for your most competitive pages.
Once you've done the hard work of authoring excellent keywords,
consider indexing and using them for site search.

Stay Tuned.

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