Keyword Meta-tags – Over-Optimisation Indicator

In the “good old days” early in the evolution of the internet, the Keyword Meta-tag was used to accelerate a website to #1 placement for virtually any keyword search phrase merely by including it into the Keyword meta-tag. What the hell, if it works, lets DO it!

The eventual response by search engines to the growth of spam usage was to either devalue of completely ignore the Keyword meta-tag. By 2011 / 2012 this meta-tag was no longer used as a ranking element by any of the major search engines.

Regardless, it is not worth persevering with because there is nothing to be gained by it. Conversely, there is much to be lost by using it, as it may be an easily found indicator of other substandard practices on the site!

Is the Keyword Tag now an Over-Optimisation Indicator?

There are people who continue to use this meta-tag, but in the post-Panda environment, its more likely to be seen as a clear indication of a site engaged in spam tactics. After all, if you are still using this tag, what other little tricks have you got up your sleeve?

Keyword Stuffing

As well as stuffing dozens (or hundreds) of keyword into the Keywords meta-tags, there are other places where its at one time or another been trendy to insert more keywords;

Comment Tags:

This was once a effective way of increasing word count and getting lots of additional exact-match keywords inserted into a page! The format is a s follows; 

Check your page for use of comments – these are clearly covered under the forbidden “Hidden Text” rules and you’d do yourself a big favour by removing them ASAP!

Text Anchors:

Adding a text anchor on a page and using an <a name=”_keyword1_keyword2_keyword3_keyword4″></a> allowed you to get more keywords into the page in a new area. Plus, when you linked TO that anchor from any other page, it increased the keywords associated with the target page.

Hyperlink Titles:

Adding even more keywords into yet another area, Link Titles have frequently been abused. Here’s how that goes;

<a href=”” target=”_blank” title=”keywords, keywords, keywords” >link anchor text</a>

Image Alt Text:

Google advises you to accurately describe images. That should not be seen as an invitation to write a mini-article and stuff it into the Alt tag!!! Be brief and be accurate is the rule. If you consistently abuse the opportunity across your website, a penalty is beyond likely.

Page & Directory File Names:

Especially within a Domain that lacks keywords in the name, it can be helpful to both viewers and search engines to include indicators to the content within the page file names. Too much of agood thing is a bad thing, so exercise restraint in keyword insertions! Be especially careful in CMS programs that allow you to use verbose page Titles and then uses those to create the filename / slug for the page!

The problem is magnified with lengthy Category names, onto which overly long page file names are added! Equally, a long page name to which with a child page file names is appended can quickly generate unwieldy and keyword-stuffed URL.

Image file names:  also useful places to insert accurate use of keywords specific to the image. That is a better approach than using the default camera image file naming conventions. Again, brevity and accuracy are the important factors.

Keyword Stuffing & Over Optimisation

Google actively targets and penalises both keyword stuffing and over-optimisation. If your site transgresses the new rules, punishment is inevitable. The effective little tricks of yesteryear listed above may well come back to bite you on the bottom when you least expect it.