Here is a new video by Matt Cutts on how Google uses meta tags in search results...
I have had my doubts for a while now that meta keywords tag was used much, if at all, by Google. I know many SEO consultants shared the same opinion. Here is Matt confirming that Google doesn't use this particular meta tag in their search criteria. Over the years I have heard a lot of uninformed SEO "gurus" talk about the all powerful keyword meta tag. I hope this video finally puts to rest this tired myth.
However what I find most interesting about this video is not Matt's confirmation about the meta keyword tag usage, but how Google DOES use the meta description tag. If you put a meta description tag in there Google may use part or all of that to display a description of your web site. I have also known this for a few years and advocate that people write persuasive, direct response, type descriptions. Please note, I didn't say keyword filled-barely readable-pile of crap description. I have read in other places how you should "keyword stuff" your meta description tag. However please notice HOW Matt mentioned Google uses this tag. He didn't say it was used in search criteria, but he did say it might be used entirely or partly as your site description. I think this is an important point so I don't want to lose anyone here. Now to be fair he also didn't say that is wasn't used either, but either way I think there is a better way to use the meta description tag.
Why do I care so much about this tag being used as part of the description for the site? Direct response advertising. The goal of any pay to click ad and search result is to get a real live person to click on your ad or search result. Your only chance to do that well is with a description that entices people that THIS is the web site they are really searching for. I read the descriptions all the time before clicking on the search results and it amazes me how many of them aren't included in a site or terribly written. Remember based on what Matt is saying a user will read this because of where Google displays it and then determine if that description is really enticing enough or persuasive enough to get them to click on the link and actually visit the site. This is where a good direct response copywriter can be his or her weight in gold.
Remember it won't do you a bit of good to have a top ten listing if nobody ever clicks on your search link or very few people do. However if you have a very well written description that utilizes good copywriting and persuasive and direct response oriented language and strategy you might boost the number of people that do click on it. More clicks equals for conversions. The bottom line is improved sales. Don't blow the description meta tag by listening to a half brained, uninformed "SEO consultant" that doesn't know how it is used and tells you to dump a bunch of keywords in there that don't make a lot of sense to a user actually reading the description.