The Keyword Conundrum
In the early days of the Internet, you could game the search engines by stuffing your text and meta tags with keywords. Search engines wanted to bring people to pages that were relevant to their search. SEO experts and consultants advised stuffing as many keywords into the text and meta tags as possible to attract the search engines to your site and for a while it worked. The more keywords you stuffed into your page, the better your search results.
They would also try tricks such as using white text keywords on a white background to sneak into the text as many keywords as possible without making the text completely unreadable. You couldn’t see these white on white keywords, but search engines would read these “hidden” keywords as words in the text and give them greater weight than keywords in the meta tags. The search engine theory at the time was that if they appeared in the text they were more reflective of the content of your page than keywords in the meta tags.
The goal was to trick an unsophisticated search engine into thinking your webpage was the most relevant web page on the Internet in regard to those specific keywords because they were repeated so often on your page. This resulted in the Keyword Wars of the early 2000’s, where websites became more and more creative in trying to game the search engines. Companies would also use the names of their competitors in the meta tags to direct people to their own websites using their competitor’s names as bait. For instance, using that technique a website selling Colgate toothpaste might place “Crest” in their meta tags to draw people searching for Crest toothpaste using a sort of keyword bait and switch.
“Keywords In The Text Of Your Content Are Still Important When Properly Used”
Keywords in the text of your content are still important when properly used. On the other hand, Keyword Meta Tags are actually disfavored. It is not that Google will necessarily penalize you for using KMT’s, but if you use them in pages on which those keywords do not appear in the text, they might. However, you can and should continue to use the Meta Description Tags. How do we know all this? Well, Google told us so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK7IPbnmvVU.
Is there any reason to use KMT’s now? Sure. Google isn’t the only search engine and others may make use of them. Since Google doesn’t penalize you for the proper use of them you may get some benefit. However, better to use keywords properly in your text. Make sure their placement in text is natural and don’t count on Keyword Meta Tags to make a significant difference in your search results. More important for search results and ranking are quality, relevant content and the proper use of the Description Meta Tag. Artificial intelligence has become sophisticated enough to determine if your content is natural prose or keyword heavy search bait. The good news is that now that search results are no longer about gamesmanship we can all get back to writing naturally and frequently rather than trying to keep up with the latest tricks and gimmicks.
Carl P. DeLuca, Esq
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