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The Truth about Meta Tags and Keyword Stuffing

Let me take a moment and clarify this somewhat confusing topic.

Wikipedia Definition of a Meta Tag: In online computer systems terminology, a tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are chosen informally and personally by the item's creator or by its viewer, depending on the system.Tagging was popularized by websites associated with Web 2.0 and is an important feature of many Web 2.0 services. There are many different Meta Tags out there available for use.

Definition of Keyword Stuffing: Keyword stuffing is a term to describe the process of selecting relevant and irrelevant keywords and placing them on your site even if its presence does not fit the rest of your content.

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Meta Tags typically go on every page of your Web site.

Here are 3 examples...

Example #1 There is the a TITLE Meta Tag.
Example #2 There is the DESCRIPTION Meta Tag.
Example #3 And there is the KEYWORD Meta Tag.

Google still uses the first two examples above as part of their Google Organic Indexing, but in September 2009, Matt Cutts finally "officially" announced that Google NO LONGER USES the KEYWORD Meta Tag (#3) above.

Click here to watch the Matt Cutts Video.

Now, we at Acorn have known and have been teaching for years that Google doesn’t read #3 above. BUT, Google isn’t the only search engine out there. We know they are the biggest, but there are still other Search Engines out there that may still use this tag.

A bit of history, this tag originally supported up to 700 characters and beyond for you to define your “Keywords” (Remember, Google ignores this tag today.)

Today, experts say 250 characters in a Meta Keyword Tag is fine for a Search Engine other than Google.

Just because some sites have a lot of words defined in this tag, (IE: Their site marketing was done at the time 700+ characters were acceptable) this by no way indicates any type of KEYWORD STUFFING as it is defined today. (Remember – Google doesn’t read this tag today.)

Today the phrase “Keyword Stuffing” has a bit of a different meaning. It’s when you or your programmer puts the same or similar words (related and un-related words) over and over in your text, alt tags, or other locations where text is read by Google.

Click to read the following article published on the 2nd of October, 2009 regarding Keyword Stuffing and SEO. Notice that this article never once mentions Keyword Stuffing in the context of Meta Tags. (That's because Google doesn’t read this tag today.)

Here is a quick example:

Come to our Napa Valley Bed and Breakfast, it’s the best Napa Valley Bed and Breakfast in all of Napa Valley. We know you will enjoy your stay in Napa Valley, if you choose our Napa Valley Bed and Breakfast when you make your reservations.

Keyword Stuffing is saying your Keyword Phrases too many times (Stuffing them) into what Google reads as part of their Cached text. It doesn’t have to do with Metas. Remember Google doesn’t read the Keyword metas (#3 above) anymore.

So, if you have a lot of words in your Keywords Meta Tag, you can pare it down to 200-250 words for Search Engines other than Google, or remove it altogether if you are still concerned about the topic, but if you don’t do anything at all, Google isn’t going to penalize you for it either. (Remember – Google doesn’t read this tag today.)

With or without the Keyword Meta Tags, our customers experience high SEO placement in Google and other search engines.

I guess what we are trying to say is “IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!” So, if you hear someone saying that Acorn-IS uses Keyword Stuffing in their Meta Tags, point them to this Blog post and say, “You do realize, don't you, that it just doesn’t matter? How about we talk about topics that really do relate to Good SEO?”

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Marketing

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