One basic search optimization mistake we run into frequently is webmasters and website owners confusing meta tags with keywords. They are NOT the same thing. As we mentioned in another post, meta description tags are brief summaries describing the content of an individual web page. While search engines such as Google or Bing will sometimes display them in search results if the engine thinks they accurately summarize the page content, they are not – and should not be – keyword lists.
To refresh your memory, keywords are specific words that are important for identifying what is unique about your company or organization – “in-home healthcare services”, for example. While they can be useful in creating meta description tags, their inclusion does not guarantee improved search engine results because search engines often ignore meta description tags in favor of actual page content for use as a search result description.
We’ll go one step further and back up what Google search guru Matt Cutts has been saying for some time: meta keywords are useless. No search engine uses them for real rankings anymore. There are lots of reasons for that, most notably because website owners would pad their sites with keywords in an effort to stack the search engine optimization cards in their favor and artificially boost search results. Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest caught on quickly and simply stopped looking at keywords to determine page relevance for search term matches.
Meta description tags, however, still have value both as a search aid and as a marketing tool to sway potential site visitors if they see your page description as part of their search results. Just don’t stuff your description with keywords because that won’t help. Use them instead to help create a unique meta description and even as a trick for keeping you focused on what words you should include in your actual page content. Because, ultimately, it’s what you really write on each page that creates value for both your website and the search engines looking at it. Well-written, pertinent, and valuable content is what will determine search results. Meta description tags can help potential visitors determine the relevance of your website for what they want. Keywords can help you create that valuable content.