Infoseek Meta Tag Limits Unchanged

Infoseek's product manager has reaffirmed that there is no particular limit over the number of times a word may be repeated in the meta keyword tag.

In September, Infoseek's customer support started saying there was a new "three word limit," despite the fact that there are no posted limits at all. Infoseek product manager Sue LaChance Porter said this was a mistake.

"There is no hard and fast rule about the number of keywords allowed in these tag fields, at some point we'd just stop counting. Ranking depends on several factors, including the body the web and the query itself, not just the number of occurrences of words."

Many people have assumed that seven is the magic number not to exceed in meta tags. Infoseek has not had a "seven word limit" regarding meta tags since Sept. 1996. From that date on, they have simply said not to be excessive, with no specific recommendations.

Despite this, a myth has developed around not exceeding seven repetitions, and some even have assumed it was applicable to all search engines. As with Infoseek, none of the search engines provide a precise number.

I've always told people that the best guideline is to use common sense and just not to overdue it. They key thing to avoid is repetition without any particular reason, such as apple, apple, apple, etc. Infoseek says the same:

"The best advice is for web page publishers to create a high quality page, and to use meta tags that they feel define or describe that page," advises Infoseek product manager Sue LaChance Porter. "If they follow that rule they aren't spamming, even if it means they have similar descriptors such as apple recipes, apple pie, apple cider, apple dumplings."

Of course, Infoseek may well have a three-word rule, a seven-word rule, or some other limit they aren't specifying. Sue La Chance Porter said that seven is as good a number as any to live by, but she stressed again that there is no particular number.

But if you want to be paranoid, you can stick with three words and assume that the tech support people weren't mistaken but really were telling the truth, and now Infoseek is back-pedaling.

Perhaps that is true, and no doubt many people have seen their pages drop in Infoseek over the past month. But Infoseek is doing many different things to deter search engine spamming, which it particularly comes under fire from, since it has the fastest Add URL mechanism.

Because of this, you can't assume that it's just your meta tags causing the drop.

Remember, the best tags are not the ones repeating the word the most, or the ones with every single possibility you can think of. The best tags are ones that simply reinforce what is already on your pages. And as always, simply adding tags is never a guarantee of achieving a ranking.