A Revival of the Meta Tag

Recently, Google introduced a new meta tag that allows publishers to insert keywords within the source code of news articles. The news_keyword meta tag allows up to ten unique keywords that do not need to be contained within the article title or the body copy. This allows writers to craft creative article content without worrying about the impact of having to include search keywords in the title, headings, or body copy of the news articles.

 

 

The introduction of the news keyword meta tag came as a surprise to many within the search industry, due to the severe decrease in relevance of the original keyword meta tag over the past 15 years. In the beginning, the original keyword meta tag was used by search engines as a strong signal to the context of the content located on the web page. However, with no limit on the amount or variety of keywords that could be included, spammers and black hats took this opportunity and ran with it, stuffing hundreds of irrelevant keywords into the meta data in attempts to steal search referral traffic from highly sought after keywords. Search engines identified this misuse and adjusted their algorithms to ignore keyword meta tags as major ranking factors.

Is this new meta tag an invitation for spammers and black hats to rank for articles not related to their content? Google is taking extra precautions to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. While publishers do not need to reiterate their chosen keyword phrases within the article content, the news keyword meta tag is merely one signal among many others that can help determine relevancy.

Actionable Insights

Covario recommends using the news keyword meta tag within the source code of articles. Up to ten keyword phrases can be included, separated by commas.  The order of keyword appearance is not significant since each keyword is weighed the same. However, Covario also recommends using the selected keywords throughout the article content and title, as well. While Google is cultivating creativity within articles, it is still only one factor in a ranking algorithm.  Articles should be optimized as done prior to the introduction of this new meta tag in order to be considered optimal for all search engines.

Another factor to consider when creating and optimizing article content is its syndication throughout the web. While the news keyword meta tag is a great addition to content hosted on your site, this code and information does not travel with the article as it becomes hosted on other sites. Because of this, it is essential to optimize news articles properly with the chosen keywords prior to syndication.

To provide an example, we’ll use a recent article titled Covario Makes the 30th Annual “Software 500” for Third Year in a Row. The news keyword meta tag for the article would appear as follows:

 

 

Naturally, the article will also include these keywords throughout the content to properly describe the honor to readers. By using these keywords in the content, search engines will see the correlation between the news keyword meta tags and the article information, which will help to increase search engine rankings. If the article does not contain any of the news keywords or similar content, the chances of ranking well for those keywords within search results are very slim. Coincidently, if a non-relevant keyword, such as [britney spears], was added to the news keyword meta tag, the article would not rank well for this term either since there is no other reference to this topic.

Another opportunity available with this meta tag is to include common misspellings and terms that cannot be used within the content due to legal reasons. For instance, we could choose to include the term [software500] in the above example since individuals are searching for the award with this keyword. Since we have included this term in the news keywords meta tag, we can choose to spell it correctly within the article content.

Summary

The news keyword meta tag is a great tool for publishers to allow their creativity to flow within their writing, but still rank well in search engines for the appropriate keywords. However, it is merely a tool and not a “golden ticket” to ranking better within Google or Google News. Publishers should seize this opportunity and include this news keyword meta tag, but also continue to properly optimize their content for the search engines as always.

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