I develop web sites for a living. One of my priorities is building search-engine-friendly sites that follow best practices for making sure that sites are easily spiderable by the search engine bots, and that the key on-page elements are present and used appropriately.
I inform my clients that this is how I work. To the extent that they want to discuss such matters, I talk to them about the importance of well-written text, headlines, custom titles, navigation and linking. I usually don’t even mention the “keywords” meta tag, because for some time now the major search engines have ignored it. The only known use of the keywords tag these days is that you can put misspelled keywords in there and Yahoo will apparently find them. Google and MSN ignore this tag completely.
I always include the keywords meta tag — it only takes a couple of minutes, and doing so helps me focus on the keywords the page is supposed to be about. But I don’t make a big deal out of it, because it really doesn’t matter. I usually don’t even mention it.
Yet …. on a fairly regular basis, a client asks me about keywords. They read somewhere that you’re supposed to put a long list of keywords in your keyword tag, and they believe that’s the secret to search engine success.
Then I explain to them that the keyword tag has no value, and that although I include those tags as part of my routine, everything else on their site is of much more importance.
I always have a sinking suspicion that they don’t quite believe me. . . . that they think they’ve sprung some super-secret, advanced SEO technique on me, and that I’m tap-dancing around the issue to cover up my lack of knowledge.
I sometimes think I should mention the keyword tag in my SEO discussions with my clients. I would inform them that the tag is virtually worthless, but that I include it anyway. But given that people imperfectly comprehend and imperfectly remember what they’re told, I fear that they’ll read somewhere that the keyword tag is valueless. Then they’ll remember only that I told them I include the tag, and they’ll again conclude that I don’t know what I’m talking about.