By California attorney, Michael P. Ehline. I wrote this quick. Please forgive typos and grammar and Circle Members are encouraged to login and edit. Your meta data is very important, especially your title and description. But not your meta tags, as will be discussed. But there are several types of tags besides just meta tags, that could be toxic to sending and receiving sites that have hyperlinks to other sources.
What Types of Tags Does This Tutorial Review Discuss?
The tags we are referencing in this tutorial, are meta tags (aka “Keyword tags”), and blog post tags. First, we will discuss and dispose of blog post tags, and move onto meta keyword tags. (Typically, most blogs don’t give ability to add tags to static “Pages”.)
A. What is a Blog Post Tag?
I think we all know what a blog post tag is. Basically, you type in a bunch of tags, and they show up as hyperlinks at the bottom or side of your post like this:
Below is a screenshot of the box most of us see when we enter tags into a blog post:
When you enter tags into a post, by default, most blogs create a separate page or post for each new document. This means you will now have a duplicate page for every tag you use. So right off the bat, Google is left with the task of deciding which document to index. You would have one post with as many pages, as you used tags.
http://circleoflegaltrust.com/got-more-girls-than-ron-miller-in-high-school . . . . ad infinitum.
We previously discussed “no indexing” tags to make sure Google gets the signal you are not trying to game them with duplicate documents, and that only one link gets counted. But Google recently announced that is does count those additional links in the video here, apparently, regardless of whether or not the tags are set to no index:
In the above video, Google also discusses its recent stance on “guest posting“. Great read.
Could This Mean I am Sending a Signal of Too Many Exact Match Anchors
We discussed previously, that too many exact match anchors can get your site hurt under Penguin. It is reasonable to extrapolate that Google will count each link, either for, or against you. So if each one of those tags directs to a post that has a link for the keyword: “personal injury attorney”, you may have a problem. So let’s say that Anthony Castelli wants to write a cool post about some page he saw on my site?
So he goes ahead and includes a bunch of tags, has no indexed tags, so he gets no Panda penalty, but Google then says, hey, the receiving site should be targeted for potential “overoptimization” This is a footprint (too many exact match links coming from one site on many different posts.) It could just be [In Google think] Let’s go ahead and take “targeted action” against that keyword and not reward him – the receiving site – for that exact match anchor. In fact, if it really seems spammy, let’s reduce his rankings for that keyword and even the related keywords. Why not?
The fact is, Google is secret, its algo is secret. But as a reasonably trained attorney, you can clearly see that Google is using this information for OTHER things. They don’t tell you all their reasons or uses. We do know they don’t count meta tags (See infra), and we do know, they are penalizing overoptimization and sitewide links.
Could Blog Post Tags Trigger a Sitewide Link Signal or Penalty?
A sitewide link, is usually a link in a footer or sidebar with exact match anchor text that points to a site paying for a link, or “sponsoring” a link. The answer is, in my opinion, over use of tags could make Google think you have a sitewide link. This is because the page or post that is duplicated would now have that exact match anchor coming from multiple documents on the same site. This is not natural. Webmasters rarely link out with exact match anchor text to begin with.
Tags Really Screw Up Your Backlink Profile Too
Many of the members of the Circle of Legal Trust, use a hrefs to check the health of their link profiles. Below is an example of a false signal that tags can give the person YOU are linking to.
Above is a pretty bad screenshot of a person who linked to my site. But they used tags. So now, instead of one link pointing to my site for “Los Angeles personal injury attorney”, I have 5 coming from one site!!! Argghh. What I am preaching, is you ain’t gonna rank any better using tags, the guy you are linking too is getting a false signal when checking the health of his link profile, and at worse, getting a Penguin slap down for too many exact match anchors. So no, don’t use tags! This is the only page/post I want to see showing that link to me: http://www.marylandautoaccidentlawyer.net/2012/05/california-motorcycle-accident-primer.html
B. What is A Meta Tag/Keyword Tag?
A meta tag describes an HTML tag designed to send a signal to the search engines as to what type of content can be found on your page. Spammers picked up on the idea you could have thin, to little content on your site, and benefit in higher ranking, by stuffing the area full of keywords you wanted to rank for. Eventually, Google ignore them in determining what is on the landing page. They are still included as an option as part of the meta data. Some people still use them, as some search engines using older technology to take them into account in ranking a page.
Should I Delete My Meta Tags Just in Case?
My answer starts with a question. Do you want to rank in Google? If yes, I say no yes. Do not use them at all. See below, screenshots of a WordPress blog All-in-One SEO Plugin showing no meta data at all. The first slide shows a meta data shot with to title, description or keywords (WordPress designates meta tags as “keywords”) See keywords at the bottom?
Example of Completed Meta Data With Some Spammy Keyword Tags
Ok Ok So Why Does Mike Ehline Think I Should Not Use Meta/Keyword Tags?
The reason is simple. Google may ignore them in deciding what type of message is on your page, but it may not ignore them when applying a Panda penalty, for “over aggressive” use of keywords, for example, which is sitewide. Google may also use this data when determining your actual semantic keyword density, as most other automated tools do. This would give you a false reading. Also, Matt Cutts and pretty much everyone else in the know, seems to say it wouldn’t hurt to not add them at all.
Matt Cutts says Google uses this info “basically, not at all” for main core websearch. [Emphasis.] So I would say, don’t use em, get rid of em. Some say if you do use them, be careful and deoptimize less.
“De-Optimize the Web Site
Just put only 8 (max 10) keywords in Meta Tags. Google has mentioned several times that they don’t use Meta Keywords for ranking. But, after the Penguin update, they are saying that they are now using it to hunt you down. So, it is about time you stopped stuffing your keyword meta tags with keywords.” (Source: http://www.seoppcsmm.com/post/22317389824/google-penguin-recovery-tips-by-barry-schwartz-and-my-2#.UGsilkRpasQ <<<);
So I hope you understand better my position on this and that you learned something. I really want us all to have great sites that help consumers. If we fail at making our sites the best they can be, we fail our mission.
Posts by Michael Ehline
- Program and Syllabus COLT Con 2017
- Las Vegas 2017 Circle of Legal Trust Convention - April 20, 2017-April 22, 2017
- Branding for Attorneys and Law Firms 101
- Problem Avoidance 101 for Attorneys and Social Media
- Penguin, Lawyers and the New SEO Landscape
- Building Meaningful and Effective Web Content
- Joe Mas takes the Award for 2016 for Best Speaker
- Trust Con Las Vegas 2016 Was a Hit!
- Legal Branding and Notoriety Just Got Easier for Attorneys!
- Program for April Vegas 7th-9th