Back in the day, when Google was a merely a glint in Infoseek’s eyes, the way to top the rankings was easy with some crafty on site search engine optimisation – stuff your keyword meta tags full of irrelevant keywords and before you knew it, your site would be number one for “porn”, “cheap Viagra” and “Britney Spears naked” even if it was selling commemorative royal wedding plates.
Of course, such results would prove to be useless and frustrating (particularly if you’re searching for Viagra and instead find Britney naked) and so the algorithms changed, the keyword tag phased out and page content and relevancy determined by other on and off page factors.
This though did not stop people adopting the tag and stuffing it full of keywords, whether they be relevant or not. A quick look at a few well known sites still sees the tag in use, though in some cases it does appear to be a token gesture:
Although Google’s webmaster guidelines has a page regarding meta tags with no mention of keywords within, they have recently released a video announcement from Matt Cutts . It would seem the reason behind this announcement could well be a lawsuit where someone is suing someone else for using their trademark within their keywords tag – presumably with keyword usage causing a stir within the PPC world a number of ill informed legal types are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to sue for inappropriate keyword usage – though following Google’s reaffirmation Viagra salesman needn’t be worried.