Not so long ago SEOs and webmasters formed the general consensus that keyword meta tags had gone the way of the Dodo, and like that long extinct bird, is no longer a substantial component of any sensible content marketing strategy. Back in September 2012, Google introduced the “news_keywords” meta tag for publishers. Seems that many sites have yet to adopt this new tag for their news sections, and now seems like a good time to take another look this meta tag and get acquainted, or re-acquainted, with it.
Introducing the “news_keywords” Tag
Over the last several years, the internet has become one of the primary sources of news and information for everyday users. Publishers began to rely more and more on the internet as an outlet for news stories and press releases. Unfortunately, to get their stories in front of the desired audience, publishers needed to create titles that were stuffed with keywords in order for search engines to easily recognize the content. This severely hampered the creativity of news writers, and led to the dumbing down of many online news articles. So, Google introduces this new meta tag.
Essentially, the new meta tag allows news writers to be more creative with their stories, while helping Google News understand and classify the content so that it is more easily discoverable in an online search. The news_keywords tag allows publishers to specify the search terms that directly relate to the article, without the need for keyword stuffing in the title or text.
So It’s the Same as the Old Meta Tag, Right?
Well, not exactly. The original “keywords” meta tag was quickly abused by black hat SEOs who began leveraging the meta tag to rank for anything from poker sites to reverse mortgages. Before too long, the value of the meta tag was gone, and Google began placing less importance on it as a factor in their page ranking algorithms. Consequently, SEOs and webmasters began to shift their attention to keyword rich content.
Now, while the news_keywords meta tag functions in much the same way with a comma separated list, it just has a different name, and is highly recognized by Google News. It looks like this:
<meta name="news_keywords" content="Facebook,Oculus VR, Inc.,Internet Technology" />
This New Tag Will Improve Ranking, Right?
Google has been quick to point out that the new tag is not intended as a quick fix for news sites looking to improve their page ranking. It’s only one of the many factors that Google looks at when evaluating the value of a page or a website. As always, offering valuable and informative content is the key to getting noticed by Google’s search engine algorithms.
The news_keywords tag may help the search engine bots understand and classify your published content, but if your site is unknown or considered low value it will not greatly improve your page ranking. As ever, producing high quality, authoritative content is the key to keeping Google happy.
Most major online news outlets such as PRNewswire have been quick to embrace the news_keywords meta tag. However, smaller news sites have been slow to adopt the feature. But Google’s news_keywords meta tag is easy to implement, and should be seen as one more SEO lever in a publishers arsenal that can get their content in front of more online readers.