We all know that our meta tags get crawled and indexed due to the fact that it comes out on the snippets and several other reasons. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t have any weight on page rankings. So how does it work? How does a search engine treat the meta tags in your webpage? What does search engines do with your meta tags?
Meta tags are codes in your website’s <head> portion. They are invisible to the users and are by far, the only legal way to have unseen keywords in your website. Don’t you ever wonder what search engines do with your meta tags since we know that it doesn’t affect page ranking anymore? I know I do. So I read some articles about it and found out from Search Engine Land what exactly your meta tags is being used for by the search engine crawlers.
There are three things that a search engine crawler does with your meta tags:
1. Indexing: When a search engine crawls your page, it replicates a copy of your HTML code and stores it in its database. This is called indexing. All your meta keywords are indexed by Google – it is aware of your meta keywords and has stored it up. Even so, it doesn’t mean it uses it in any way else. It just stores it up.
2. Retrieval: Also termed by information research professionals as “Recall”, is how a search engine reacts to the people surfing the web and looking for something. The search engine retrieves what it has indexed about your website and will compare it with the search query of the user. It matches if the documents it has indexed are relevant with the search query the user has initiated. While it does look at the sites it has indexed, it does not necessarily mean that it will go through the indexed document completely – meaning that it will not necessarily go through the meta keywords for retrieval and matching with the search query. I know Google doesn’t, although I’ve read that Yahoo does.
3. Ranking: Now this is where it goes down to business. Ranking is also termed as “Precision” because it is all about putting the best, and most accurate and relevant stuff up top. The ranking algorithm between search engines vary. Some say that for Yahoo, meta keywords still hold water albeit very shallowly so. For Google, I’ve heard that meta tags hold no weight at all in their ranking algorithm. Any way you put it, meta tags can do very little to none with your page rankings.
Now that we have that established, what exact uses does meta tags have in your website? What does SEO experts use meta tags for? I’ll be talking about this in my next entry so watch out for it!
Tips for keeps: Don’t focus too much on your meta tags. Yes it does help, but it helps minimally. You should focus on SEO factors with more weight in relation to your site’s page ranking.
This entry is part of the SEO Hacker School series: Using Meta Tags for SEO
Next Lesson: How Meta Tags should be used for SEO
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