For a typical query typed into Google’s search bar, Google’s search algorithm relies on more than 200 “clues” to guess what the user might be looking for and give them back exactly what they want. Meta tags are one piece of the Google algorithmic puzzle representing a fantastic way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites.
But there is confusion among webmasters concerning the importance of meta tags with articles popping up over the web every now and then about how Google ignores meta tags. Perhaps it all started with the following video where Matt Cutts said verbatim “We don’t use the keywords meta tag in our search ranking. Other search engines might but Google doesn’t.”
Note that Matt Cutts only said that Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking. He said nothing more and nothing less about using meta tags as a proxy for information about a website’s content. The keywords meta tag had value at one time for SEO and that’s no longer the case. This does not mean that Google ignores meta tags altogether when it comes to search ranking. For example,
- The Meta Robots tag is still one of the most important tags, which lets you influence search engine crawler activity on a per-page level.
For example, you can control how Google and the other search engines treat a page with implementations like:
- index/noindex: This tells the search engines whether a page should be included or excluded from the index.
- follow/nofollow: This tells the search engines whether links on the page should be crawled or disregarded.
- noarchive: This prevents the search engines from saving a cached copy of a specific page.
- nosnippet: This prevents the search engines from displaying a descriptive block of text next to a page’s title and URL in the SERPs.
There are, of course, other tags that you can use as a way to store information within your site and describe its content for the search engines without being actually viewable by users. Read more