In the early days of Search Engine Optimization, keywords were one of the strongest tools that a webmasters had at their disposal. So instinctively, webmasters included any and all keywords that they could think of that might relate to their business. This practice made it very hard for search engines to determine which website was the best recommendation.
This problem was twofold:
- Webmasters used terms that were not closely related to the business.
- By including the most popular search terms, a website could generate more traffic regardless whether or not the traffic was quality
- Search Engines did not limit the number of keywords that a website could use.
- With unlimited space, webmasters did not have to choose which keywords were the most important for the business.
The solution to this problem was swift. Google all but stopped using this meta tag and started developing other method for ranking websites. While the Keyword tag may have been shelved for a while, it looks like Google is dusting it off and giving it another run. Google recently announced a new tool for publishers that are sources in the Google News section. The news_keywords will allow publishers to include keywords in the meta data that Google will use to help better understand each article.
The goal is simple: empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users.
Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text.
The idea is simple: allow writers to not have to worry about including specific keywords in their content in order to rank well. Google wants to provide its users with well written content that is user friendly to read. My guess is that Google was noticing a trend where more and more content was being written for search engines and was becoming less appealing to users.
Google has learned from its mistakes and made several important changes to the system. The tag that they are using for the news section has limitations. This first is that you are limited to 10 keywords that need to be separated by a comma. This should keep people from falling into old habits. The second is warning from Google that this new section does not guarantee placement for your article. While you may no longer need to be sure that all keywords are listed in your article, Google is still looking for good quality content. In a statement, “high-quality reporting and interesting news content remain the strongest ways to put your newsroom’s work in front of Google News users.”
<meta name=“news_keywords” content=“Keyword, keyword, keyword”>
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