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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meta Keywords Tag - 4 Years Later

In September 2005, I wrote a guest piece for Pandia about the meta keywords tag, arguing:
Do not use the meta keywords tag. Many people still think of this as a quick fix for SEO. It's not. Google no longer uses it.
In September 2009, Google finally posted an official statement, saying:
Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.
Thank you, Google. It's about time. ;-)

I continue to advise my clients to avoid using the meta keywords tag. Why provide your competitors with a nicely formatted list of your important keywords? Why not just email them a list of your best keyword ideas? On the flip side, since so many sites do still use the meta keywords tag, why not take a look and get some ideas for your own PPC or SEO projects? Plug a domain or URL into this free keyword research tool. Example output:

meta keyword research tool

Some search marketing professionals still suggest using the meta keywords tag. In most cases, this will be a sign to avoid working with them. In some cases, though, theirs will be an opinion worth considering. So, examine a few different strategies and determine your own strategy for meta keywords tags.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

AdsBot-Google: Tracking AdWords Landing Page Quality Score Bot

Many questions come up in the AdWords help forum about landing page quality score. Not many people seem to realize this is a largely automated scoring process. The Google AdWords landing page quality score bot, AdsBot-Google, crawls destination URLs. A quality score change isn't likely to occur until after the bot visits landing pages, so it's worth tracking AdsBot-Google:

AdsBot-Google tracking script

On the organic search side, Google provides Googlebot crawl stats to webmasters. On the paid search side, the AdWords interface doesn't provide AdsBot-Google crawl stats, so it's up to advertisers to keep track on their own. Seeing so many questions about landing page quality score, I've put together a free, open source script to do so. For each hit from AdsBot-Google, it displays:
  • Time (timestamp of the bot visit)
  • IP Address (remote ip address of the bot)
  • Status (http error code)
  • Page Crawled (url of the page visited)
If your site is not experiencing any landing page quality score issues, you won't need to track AdsBot-Google. If you are having problems, it's worth checking for the most recent visit from the bot, so you'll get a better idea as to when you might see a quality score change. If you don't see any visits from AdsBot-Google, then you'll know you need to simply wait. The frequency of visits is not predictable. If the bot does visit and you see HTTP status codes that indicate errors, then you'll know you have issues on your site to correct.

For a site that has low landing page quality scores, make sure the landing pages are improved following these guidelines. Once the improved pages are up on your server, then check for AdsBot-Google visits. Don't expect to see quality score changes until some time after the bot visits the improved pages. The time lag can be hours or even days.

If you do use the AdsBot-Google tracking script and have any problems with it or have any questions about it, post a comment below.