Do Commas In
Your Keywords Metatag Affect Ranking?
by Jon Ricerca
One of our members
recently reported that Yahoo was
recommending separating the keywords in your meta-tag
using commas. As we know from experience, the official
representatives of the search engines don't always give us
the best advice as it pertains to ranking. We decided to
check out this claim using a statistical analysis to find
out if using commas in your keywords meta-tag had any
affect on ranking on Yahoo. We also studied Google to see
if there was any affect on that search engine.
Here is the
methodology I used to answer this question. I
gathered the results of the queries naturally performed
last month by myself and four associates using Yahoo and
Google. I then fetched the pages and looks at any keywords
meta-tags on the listed pages. I tallied the results for
the first 8 rankings on both Yahoo and Google (keeping the
results separate) and then converted them into a
percentage of the total results for each search engine.
Here is the
graph showing Google and Yahoo results:
The X-axis shows
the ranking (from #1 through #8) of the
search engine results in the study. The Y-axis shows the
percentage of domains that contained commas in the
The first thing
to notice is that roughly 40%-50% of all
pages in the first eight rankings have a keywords meta-tag
with commas separating the keywords. That really doesn't
tell us much about the ranking of such pages though, only
the general distribution of pages with commas in a
keywords meta-tag in the top 8 results. Still, I was
surprised that the percentages were so high. For several
years, the general consensus was that no significant
search engine even utilized the keywords meta-tag (this
was before Yahoo switched from service Google results to
their own). With that general consensus, I expected that a
vast majority of sites had dropped using this meta-tag.
However, over 40% of top ranked sites continue to persist
in their use. I find that interesting.
The next thing
to notice is that Google showed absolutely
no ranking difference between sites that use commas in the
keywords meta-tag vs. sites that do not use commas in the
keywords meta-tag or have no keywords meta-tag at all. The
ranking correlation was an exact zero on a scale of -100
correlation was a -28 on a scale of -100
to +100 for pages having commas in the keywords meta-tags.
I generally treat results between -35 and +35 as
insignificant (don't not affect ranking or the affect on
ranking is small to insignificant). However, since Yahoo
recommended using commas, I did find the -28 result
interesting. Once again, it appears that the official
representatives of a search engine are steering us wrong
(at least for purposes of ranking higher on their search
engine). This result indicates that using commas is either
insignificant or if there is any significant affect... it
use commas in your keywords meta-tag. Pages
that use commas in the keywords meta-tag do NOT rank
higher and there may be a slight negative affect on Yahoo.
is one of the leading researchers and authors
of the Search Engine Ranking Factor (SERF).