As a majority of webmasters already know that Google does not use Keywords anymore to help index a website properly. Which is understandable by people exploiting the system to try to gain a better ranking for keywords that they don't use with their sites.

My current thoughts of this questions are:

  • Writing good content.
  • Meta description should still work
  • Allowing for the site to be easily indexed thanks to HTML markup
  • Google Webmaster Tools gives insight
  • Google Analytics tells me where my users are going and why... ?
  • HTML Breadcrumbs

What do we replace with the keywords to help Google index out sites accordingly and more accurately?

  • This question really just asks how to rank well
    – John Conde
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:41
  • 2
    Yes and no. I read it as how keywords impact performance and not an how to rank question. That is what I tried to address with information, people have not thought about. Ranking well is not as formulaic as people think; step 1, step 2, and such. I fall into this trap from time to time like anyone else, but I felt as though he was asking for something more. Of course I could be full of something that best belongs in the garden!
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:54
  • I'm asking about keywords, as @closetnoc is saying. I don't get where we get the idea of performing well in ranks. Sorry if that question is like that.
    – Traven
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:57
  • 1
    To Johns defense, I did have to re-read the question to make sure I understood it properly and even then, the first answer I tried to give I discarded and started over. But at the same time, I thought the question was excellent and deeper than most (hence the up vote) and I just had to figure out how to answer it properly by taking a chance.
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 1:19
  • You gave me a very good, compelling answer for what I wanted to know and it does make perfect sense.
    – Traven
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


Actually the magic rests mostly in the content. Yes title tags, h1 tags, description meta-tags, and so forth are important to help weigh keywords, but their effect is far less than people think. The reality is that they are clues and not triggers.

In 2008, people paid little attention when Google released scholar, but in reality, this was an important event that effects us today. This is because we all deal with scholar today without really knowing. Here is what I mean.

Scholar, when released, was a citation analysis and index engine. For some, citations are links. Boy are they wrong! Citations are found in everything and that is what Google realized with scholar. Scholar as an engine, once perfected, was rolled into the general set of algorithms that Google uses. In this case, the title tag, h1 tag, description meta-tag became clues as the engine analyzed the meaning of the content, the topic, any similarities to other works, author recognition, and so on. In fact, the Google author tag and Google+ are extensions of the citation analysis to help remove some ambiguity. These elements came out of the Google TrustRank exercise where known quality sites were manually analyzed and used for comparison for other sites. This was about when citation analysis was rolled into the general algorithm as Google realized that just a seed was needed for analysis and not ongoing manual processes. For citations, the seed already existed in scholarly works and any manual adaption could be made by members themselves.

Let me give you an example. I write a scholarly piece that gets very little attention, but is indexed in Google. Let's say you find this work and quote it without linking, mentioning the author, and so on. What will happen is that Google will recognize the quotations as being from my work and a citation is born. A relationship exists where the content of each piece can support each other and similar works can be found. To further the example, say another person writes a piece with no quotes, links, author, etc. An analysis of the work can determine that the topic is related to other works using keywords, phrases, and even structure and language analysis. Google can recognize the work of an author by looking at other know works. So even if an exact match cannot be found, sometimes a citation can be made using other analysis to identify an author, a period, level of expertise and so on.

In a manner of speaking, that is what happens with title tags, h1 tags, description meat-tags, and so forth. If the keywords and phrases are a match, then they support the weight of the topic keywords, and phrases for indexing. And if they don't? Nothing. Because these things are following citation analysis algorithms, the title tag, h1 tag, and description tag should support each other as works to be related but not match entirely. It is in this way that keyword usage works in SEO. They are mini-works. They are clues. They are not triggers. They all have to be supported by the page, the site, and most importantly organic links which by the way are also analyzed as to be natural or not. Keywords and phrases in organic links are weighted very high simply because they are unscripted and can support a topic in a narrow and focused way.

Now let me give you another example. A scholarly work was published some time ago and my name was on it with others. No other identifying information. My name is somewhat common. I do not use the author tag, or use Google+. I do not participate in any social media at all except for this site, and yet, my site got a sudden boost of about 10,000 extra page views a month and tapered off exactly as the accesses and popularity of the scholarly work tapered off. Google knew who I was by name and previous works and knew which site was mine of course by Google Webmaster Tools which I think was part of your question. Spooky huh?

How clear was that? Did I do a good job of explaining it? At least was I entertaining?

  • It does help a lot, but at the same time I feel I should keep the meta keywords there, for some odd reason. Maybe because I am old school still.
    – Traven
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:59
  • 2
    I actually keep it too. This is because I am a big data guy and I know that large data exists in five stages; collection, storage, analysis, query, and reporting. It is far easier to turn off query and reporting but not at all easy to turn off collection, storage, and analysis. I suspect that the keywords tag is still stored and used for analysis but does not effect Rank and SERPs directly. It is a treasure trove of data that AI enthusiasts can testify would be too tempting to keep and not discard.
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 1:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.