Ott just pointed out on his blog the expert witness of Frank Farance in the case Jenzabar Inc v. Long Bow Group Inc. in which the expert witness points out that the use of specific terms in both the KEYWORD meta-tag and the TITLE tag (positively) influenced the ranking of the relevant pages. This comes as a solid surprise as Google has just expressed lately that the use of the KEYWORD meta tag in the header of a web page does not influence the ranking of this site in its results.
However the Farance stated that:
However, when numbering the factors taken into account for the ranking of search results and mentioning the “TITLE” meta tag or the “DESCRIPTION” meta tag, the “KEYWORD” meta tag is not listed:
Still, further down (31) in the witness Farance points out that (1) most webpages of the defendant had pretty (‘copy and paste’) similar headers (that’s the part with all the meta tags),and (2) that only some pages had carefully filled headers. Of these pages whose headers where carefully filled with information ONLY (3) the page relating to the defendant contained keywords that were not also displayed in the visible (body) part of the webpage.
So in my understanding, Farance argues that this fact was critical for the ranking by Google.
As I have learned during my professional career not to argue with technicians, I can only state with all due respect that I find the witness not conclusive as it e.g. omits all the other factors relevant for the linking of a webpage such as e.g. the number of incoming links pointing onto the pages related to the defendant. I get the impression that the pages in question were optimized for search engines, which would on one hand explain why they contained so many keywords and on the other hand, why they were de facto ranked at a “higher” position in the Google search result.
Furthermore I find it interesting that there is no explicit statement about the influence of the KEYWORD meta tag alone but only about the combined influence of “the TITLE and the KEYWORD meta tag” together. This is surprising as the subsequent paragraphs focus only onto the content of KEYWORD meat tag and I reckon that some people might not notice this detail.