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Google Advised Webmasters on Keyword Heavy Meta Tags

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Google’s John Mueller has cleared the air on keyword-heavy meta titles and description saying it’s a regular practice going on for a long time and is not considered against the webmaster’s guidelines.

An SEO discussed the topic in the recently held Google Search live stream on December 11. He informed Muller that he had seen small business owners heavily using commercial keywords in title and meta descriptions, even advising them not to do so.

He put forward an example that Florist in Brighton uses a description which says:

“funeral flowers in Brighton, wedding flowers in Brighton, birthday flowers in Brighton.”

He admits such a description is not aesthetically pleasing or shows any logical description of something, but such pages still rank higher in SERPs.

Mueller is asked to provide his thoughts on why pages with keyword saturated titles and descriptions frequently show up in search results and whether it is or not against webmaster guidelines.

Muller Reply to the Question

Mueller, wasting no time, has confirmed using keyword-heavy title & description is not against Google webmaster guidelines, but such things aren’t recommended either. Using such a title & description would make it difficult for Google to understand whether the page is relevant or not.

Muller says the reason to write a good title and description is to improve a site’s CTR, not for any improvement in ranking. Any website which writes good titles and descriptions can hope to see improvement in the CTR of the website.

“It’s not against our webmaster guidelines. It’s not something that we would say is problematic. I think, at most, it’s something where you could improve things if you had a better fitting title because we understand the relevance a little bit better.

 

And I suspect the biggest improvement with a title in that regard there is if you can create a title that matches what the user is actually looking for then it’s a little bit easier for them to actually click on a search result because they think “oh this really matches what I was looking for.”

 

Whereas if you were looking for “flower delivery Brighton” and as a title in the search results you see “flowers, green flowers, yellow flowers, Brighton…” and all of the cities nearby. You might look at that and say: well, is this some SEO result? Or is this actually a business that will do a good job and create some nice flowers for me?”

 

So that’s something where I almost think it’s a matter of improving the click-through rate rather than improving the ranking. And if, with the same ranking, you get a higher click-through rate because people recognize your site as being more relevant then that’s kind of a good thing.

Mueller Recommends a Focused Approach

Mueller acknowledged the fact that some of them stuff keywords in title and meta descriptions, and it’s been a long going practice. He also said it emanates from the view of keywords in title and meta descriptions being a Google ranking factor.

“It’s a really common tactic. We say as well that we use the keywords in titles as part of our ranking system and people say oh well I need to add all keywords to my titles, and then you end up with something like that. So just because they are used for ranking doesn’t mean you need to put everything in there.

 

And sometimes I suspect the bigger aspect is really the click-through rate from search rather than the ranking effect. Especially for small businesses, you don’t have a lot of chance to be visible in search results in lots of places, because you’re probably more focused on your regional area, and having a title that is really good, that matches your business, that’s a lot more important than having all of the keywords in it.”

Muller advises the SEOs to have a more focussed approach while writing meta tags, giving them more clicks rather than stuffing the keywords in them. In the end, we all want to convert users into customers with great content for which titles and meta descriptions with a natural flow would be the first step towards it.

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