Many people claim meta keywords have no value.
Their arguments tend to go along the lines of,
“Matt Cutts says Google doesn’t pay attention to meta keywords, so that means meta keywords are worthless.”
They may even post a link to the video where Cutts says, “We don’t use it” (it being the meta keywords tag):
My response to that is, “What does Matt Cutts know?”
He knows about Google’s organic search algorithm. But what else does he know?
Shock News! Online Marketing Doesn’t Begin And End With SEO!
The, “The guy who knows all about Google SEO says meta keywords aren’t used, so they’re not used”, argument is daft for three reasons…
#1: It assumes Cutts must know about all other forms of online marketing. It’s known that Google likes to keep its organic algorithm team and its adwords team separate, so why would Cutts be a PPC expert?
#2: It doesn’t pay attention to Cutts’ language. He says “we”. Is that Google? Or is that the team responsible for the organic ranking algorithm?
#3: It forgets there’s more to internet marketing than SEO.
My view on the video is that Cutts is talking about organic rankings… and only organic rankings.
And here’s why …
Google Adwords Uses The Meta Keywords Tag
There. I’ve said it.
I’ve run tests where we’ve taken an Adwords landing page with either no meta keywords – or poorly targeted keywords – and tested it against an otherwise identical page with on-topic meta keywords… and found the latter ads show higher on the page.
That’s a sign of higher quality scores.
Which – because I’ve done this a few times – tells me that google is using meta keywords as a factor in the Adwords landing page relevancy algorithm.
Why Does Adwords Use Meta Keywords?
The reason why Google organic ignores meta keywords is simple: they’re not related to what the visitor sees, so they can be spammed.
So why does Adwords approach things differently?
With the organic listings, if Google can’t figure out what a page is about, it can simply not rank that page.
There’s never a shortage of other pages to put in the top 10. So ignore the poorly themed page and the problem is solved.
But when you’re dealing with paid advertisers, you don’t have that luxury. You can’t just ignore their ads, so you have to make more of an effort to understand the theme of the landing page.
Meta keywords tend to be a reliable indicator of the advertiser’s idea of the topic of the page. So it makes sense to include them as part of the page analysis.
The Limits Of What Can Be Done With Meta Keywords
While I haven’t tested this exhaustively, I suspect that, if you have a page that’s clearly themed around the search terms you’re bidding on, the meta keywords won’t have much of an impact.
I think their biggest impact is as a remedy for pages that are poorly themed.
However, as I said, I’ve never tested this, so the best practice is to have on-theme meta keywords that reflect the topic of your landing page. (Which should, of course, be closely related to the keywords you’re bidding on.)
A Final Piece Of Advice
There’s a reason why the word “myopia” features in the headline of this blog post.
There’s a tendency amongst SEOs to assume that SEO is everything, and to make pronouncements about “internet marketing” that are really only true for SEO.
SEOs know about SEO. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means they know much about PPC.