Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Webspam team for those of you not in the know) tweeted out to the world on Monday that “Google confirms that we don’t use the meta keywords tag at all in web search” and included a link to the Google Webmaster Central blog for more information.
Finally! It was like a beacon of light on a dark and stormy night. Ok, so that might be a tad dramatic. Still, it has been widely suspected for years that Google ignores this tag, but it’s always great when SEOs get an official confirmation straight from the horse’s mouth.
And with Google keeping their secret sauce (that’s my crafty term for their search algorithm) under lock and key, we really don’t get many of those.
So I Can Really Stop Using it Once and For All?
I’ve discussed the use of the keywords tag before in a previous blog and webinar, and I’ve advised that using it can’t hurt your rankings but it’s not that much of a help either. SEOMoz actually went from recommending not using the tag to admitting that it could be slightly useful just this year, because it was proven that Yahoo still uses it to a small degree. If you’re saying to yourself that you’re not as concerned about Yahoo (especially since Bing will be powering Yahoo search results next year), then you can probably stop using it, right? Google came right out and said that it’s null and void in their world.
Wait…not so fast.
Bing Says Not to Ignore It
In Bing’s webmaster blog there are instructions on how to use the keywords tag, advising SEOs to “take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit, even when the payoff is relatively low.” Now you might be saying to yourself that Bing has increased it’s market share by acquiring Yahoo, so maybe it is worthwhile to use the keywords tag. After all, they will be the #2 search engine after Google.
Do What’s Best for You
If Bing is important to you, then it is probably worth your while to continue to use this tag. However if you really only follow the gospel of Google, drop it like a bad habit. And if all of this is making your head spin in confusion and you’re wasting your time on trying to figure out if you should use it or not, definitely drop it. It’s not worth the headache.
If you still use the keywords tag, will you stop now that Google has spoken?