Do meta tags still matter?

There’s been a lot of talk on the web of late and most of it isn’t good for the META tag … it seems some people think poor old META is dead but personally, I think META is going to stick around for a lot longer than people think.

Here’s the thing (for non webbies), a META tag is a special series of instructions, found on almost every web page on the Internet and what they do (or are meant to do) is tell search engines such as Google what your web site has on it.

In the old days, major search engines used to use spiders to crawl the web and find pages, they would then pick up the META data and display it on their search engine but people quickly began abusing this and posting fake META data, to trick web users into visiting their web site.

The more advanced search engines, and most modern engines use a complex series of algorithms to create their own summary of web sites, making the META data seem fairly unimportant. After all, if the search engine is going to create its own version of the META data, what possible use will the sites META data be?

Well here’s the kicker, I’ve found that web sites I build with great META data continue to be placed high on major search engines, while pages or sites without META data rarely rank well.

My theory (and it’s just a theory) is that if your META tags are accurate, the search engines reward you for being honest but if your META tags make no sense to the search engine, they either reject them or worse, punish your rankings.

As for me, I use a custom build module for my web sites, it builds the META data on the fly, based on the actual content of the web site, which means that when the search engines come to index, they receive great META data based on actual content, not just what I thought would look good at the time.

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