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Meta Tag Keyword Length?

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#1 MulaG


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Posted 10 June 2008 - 05:25 PM

Just wanted to check what the cut off length is for keywords in Google. Is it 150-155? If so does this include keyword phrases?




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Posted 10 June 2008 - 09:05 PM

Most SEOs will tell you that the meta keyword tag is ignored by most search engines. I still include it and go up to about 60 characters. It takes very little time and it makes me think about my most important terms.

#3 MulaG


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 07:03 AM

Yes I too would still like to include it. Would the 60 characters include keyword phrases?

#4 Black_Knight


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 08:33 AM

For Google, the cutoff is 0. It is completely and totally ignored, so any character over zero is ignored.

Seriously, there's a teeny advantage to not including the tag at all (leaner page, less data transfer), and a bigger disadvantage to having the tag in there (competitors mine it - half the keyword discovery tools use the keywords meta of other sites that rank well). Google doesn't give you any credit, not even a consolatory smile, for having the tag.

So think hard why you want to include it, and unless you can cite hard evidence for there being any advantage to you (some mysterious third-tier SE that really matters to you as proven by the log files) then seriously consider ommitting it.

#5 cre8pc


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 10:36 AM

I stopped using meta keyword tags a few years ago. Just use title and desc. now .

#6 bwelford


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 11:29 AM

I almost completely agree with Ammon. However there is a view that Yahoo! may use it re mis-spellings. So if any of your keywords (that you probably want to keep to yourself) could be mis-spelled, then why not put only those words with the wrong spellings into the keywords Meta tag. For example, you could put both 'optimization' and 'optimisation' into the tag.

Of course the value of even this is minimal. Most search engines that bring you traffic are doing some version of latent semantic analysis, so they've already got in their logic circuits synonyms and related words, which would include mis-spellings.

#7 iamlost


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 11:37 AM

The old idea of meta keyword was to provide meta data to user agents (and later SEs) of terms, other than what was in the content, but which were still relevant to the content.

Given the advent of the SE and human nature it got misused such that it has no original relevance at all - as the others have said.

However, there are two related internal uses for which some still use the keyword meta.
1. 180 degrees from the original context: list the keywords the site is page is built around - a simple memory device. In this context the meta is usually retained in the back-up and deleted in the uploaded version for page load time reasons.

2. Exact same idea as original context but for internal site search only. Sort of a poor man's semi-manual thesaurus feature such as found in better onsite search applications. A few folks add in the terms actually in the content for simple one meta-stop site search parsing. Very rare as parsing scripts are significantly better than in years past.

I know of no other practical meta keyword usage at this time.
However, I oft do things others name 'different' so by all means feel free to go your own way for your own reasons, having taken advice and considered it twice. :)

I have read some Yahoo keyword mis-spelling thoughts but my tests have been totally inconclusive. I was unable to prove either way. I can say that Yahoo seems able to solve many/most/all misspellings correctly without available meta keywords - they certainly send a good number my way.

#8 Black_Knight


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 12:31 PM

With regard to Yahoo, Tim said that it was an inclusion factor of the SERPs, but not a ranking factor. The reason that this has become commonly associated with misspellings is that if Yahoo finds a keyword used in the keyword tag, it will include that page within the overal returned results, but with zero ranking boosts, meaning it is likely ranked dead last. But if the results for that word are very thin, such as almost none, then just being included may put you tenth of ten, right?

There is a (sneaky) use of keywords however. You use it to deliberately mislead your competitors keyword research. Any time you find a keyword that seemed good, but really stank in actual performance, make sure you get it into your keywords tag so your competition using keyword mining tools waste time chasing it. :)

#9 MulaG


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Posted 11 June 2008 - 06:12 PM

So Black Knight does that mean that I only need to use words that are not that popular? It's funny that you mentioned competitor mining because as a newbie that is exactly what I did. I did a Google search for a keyword that I could use for the site I have built and looked at the keywords used for the top sites. I used this to help build my list of keywords. I can see now that I could be getting into a vicious circle and as like you said there is no real advantage to use it I shall omit the meta keyword tag altogether.

I am just learning that the SEO process is more about advertising than 'optimising your page'. I am going to be running an adwords campaign for my client which I think should help with rankings. Is there anything else that I can do?

#10 fisicx


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Posted 12 June 2008 - 03:23 AM

If you optimise for words that are not popular then nobody will visit the site - because nobody searches for those keywords.

What you need to do is write interesting and informative content that adds value. This means not copying the keywords from your competitors. I have a popular page that ranks well for a specific set of keywords. But 99% of all my visitors do not use those keywords. In others words, do not worry about specific keywords, if the content is good people will find you through other methods.

So make you have written enticing pages titles and descriptions, have informative headers and your content is written to meet your visitors needs. Build a website that people will want to visit. And if you do a better job than your competitors you could easily outrank them.

As to PPC, you can spend as much as you like but I don't think there is any evidence that this will affect your ranking.

#11 Black_Knight


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Posted 12 June 2008 - 07:29 AM

If you optimise for words that are not popular then nobody will visit the site - because nobody searches for those keywords.

I believe she was asking what to put into the keywords meta tag, fisicx, which as we know has no effect on optimisation at all. :D

I can see now that I could be getting into a vicious circle and as like you said there is no real advantage to use it I shall omit the meta keyword tag altogether.

Spot on.

Even misspellings commonly have more than 30 results, plus the first result is usually the old 'Did you mean...' link, so even misspellings, except in exceptional cases, won't get you a single click from being included in the META keywords tag. You really are better off without it.

Afterthought afterthought
The discussion on what SEO is these days, and how how PPC can fit in and provide holistic benefit to an organic campaign is really it's own discussion. If you start such a discussion, I'll be sure to pop by. :)

Edited by Black_Knight, 12 June 2008 - 07:35 AM.

#12 psquillace


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Posted 13 June 2008 - 03:24 PM

I am about 2yrs into SEO and have to disagree with a few guys here. I have on countless occasions seen my meta description tags show up in the results on google and yahoo. Not so much MSN though.

Just my 2 cents from what I have learned so far. I am sure I have a LONG way to go though...


#13 BillSlawski


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Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:14 PM

Hi psquillace,

Welcome to the forums.

The original question wasn't about meta description tags, but rather meta keyword tags.

Meta descriptions do commonly appear in the search results "caption" for pages when the query term used by a searcher also appears in the meta description. I use the word "caption" to describe the combination of Page Title, descriptive snippet, and URL (as well as some other information) that search engines show to searchers for web search results because I've seen an instance or two where search engineers used that term.

This paper on the topic is kind of fun and informative:

The Influence of Caption Features on Clickthrough Patterns in Web Search (pdf)

Nice conclusion from the study described in the paper:

The findings of our study suggest that relatively simple caption features such as the presence of all terms query terms, the readability of the snippet, and the length of the URL shown in the caption, can significantly influence users’ Web search behavior.

The really nice thing about meta description tags is that an engaging or persuasive (or persuasive and engaging) meta description may convince someone looking at a caption for a web page in search results to click through the link and visit the page listed in those search results.

As the paper I linked to notes:

A principal motivation for providing a caption is to assist the user in determining the relevance of the associated page without actually having to click through to the result.

We really don't know what impact meta descriptions have in the actual determination of relevance of a document for a query term, though it is something that many have tested.

One seemingly easy way to test may be to take a long string of text from a meta desciption on a page that doesn't also appear within the text of the page, wrap it in quotation marks, and perform a search to see if that page appears in search results. If a search engine is including meta descriptions in their index, then the page probably should. Or should it? :)

#14 cvos


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Posted 16 June 2008 - 03:38 PM

I like to think of meta keywords as tags. Tags, most ofen used to label blog posts, are very useful and will help your posts/articles be found in the correct category in blog search engines.

By combining meta keywords (ignored by search engines) with visible linked keyword tags (very useful for specialized search engines) you have something that helps both users and search services.

Search 3.0 should be all about the switch from invisible metadata to visible data: tags, categories, sitemaps, pings & web based bookmarks.

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