Do Meta Keywords & Descriptions Still Affect Search Engine Rankings?

By Jillean Kearney on December 15, 2014

Meta keywords and descriptions Short answer: No.

Meta descriptions and keywords have no impact on where you're page will rank on a search engine result page for a certain keyword. When it comes to meta keywords, you should just forget that they were ever an element of on-page search engine optimization because they will be ignored completely. However, meta descriptions still do have value for your SEO strategy.

What Are Meta Keywords?

A long, long time ago (before 2009), meta keywords were a vital component of on-page SEO. Like meta descriptions, they were an HTML attribute that provided a space for search engine optimizers to associate specific keywords with a specific page. If a Google user searched for a page's meta keywords, that page would show up in results.

Why Meta Keywords Don't Matter

Meta keywords were used and abused by search engine optimizers. As a result, Google and other search engines n o longer use meta keywords as a ranking signal because they didn't want to reward spammy SEO tactics. Adding meta keyword tags to your site isn't a good idea and it will prove to be a waste of time. Like mentioned up top, it's best to just forget that they were ever an element of on-page SEO.

What are Meta Descriptions?

A meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a short description of a web page's contents. The optimal length for a meta description is between 150-160 characters (including spaces). These snippets are pulled into search result pages (SERPs), like so (meta description is highlighted in blue):

Why Meta Descriptions Matter

No matter how many times a keyword is stuffed into a meta description, it will not result in a higher ranking on Google. The value of a meta description is its impact on click-through rates from SERPs.

If a Google user reads a meta description that outlines exactly what they were hoping to find when they entered their search query, they'll choose to click on that link over a page has a poorly written one that ends in "...".

Meta descriptions are your chance to explain a page's uniqueness and it's value to a Google-user (in about the same length of a Tweet). Keywords should still be included in meta descriptions as the search query will appear in bold on SERPs (bolded keywords have been proven to have a positive impact of click-through-rates).

Tip: Don't duplicate meta descriptions across your site. It's important that each page has a unique meta description. Google deems this an important element of a good user-experience.

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December 15, 2014
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