Google Content Keywords In Webmaster Tools Doesn't Represent Relevancy

Oct 24, 2012 • 9:23 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google content keywordsYou learn something new every day, don't you?

A Google Webmaster Help thread has Googler, John Mueller saying that the Content Keywords report within Google Webmaster Tools does not represent how Google understand the relevancy of your web site.

One webmaster was nervous about what was showing and John responded:

The keywords shown in Webmaster Tools are based on the keywords we find when we crawl your pages. They are not representative of how we view your site's relevance in web-search, it is purely a count of words from crawling (so if you see some words there which are common on your pages but which you find irrelevant, I wouldn't worry about it). If you remove those pages from your site, the next time we attempt to crawl and index them, we'll drop those keywords from our records -- and with that, over time, from Webmaster Tools as well.

Now, that is not the impression I get from reading Google's document on content keywords:

The Content Keywords page lists the most significant keywords and their variants Google found when crawling your site. When reviewed along with the Search Queries report and your site's listing in actual search results for your targeted keywords, it provides insight into how Google is interpreting the content of your site.

If this report shows how Google is interpreting the content on your site, shouldn't that help determine relevance?

Maybe we need a bit more clarification on the topic.

I know what John is saying, that this webmaster shouldn't worry but really?

The content keywords report is not a representative of how Google determines your site's relevance.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Lyndon NA

10/24/2012 01:39 pm

You need to spend more time reading the various posts in the Google Webmaster Forums. Folk there have been pointing out that the GWMT KT is merely a counter (frequency/density) affair - not a Relevancy indicator. It can also be skewed - depending on what pages it has crawled and what words it has encountered etc.


10/24/2012 01:40 pm

Wait a mean not even Google knows how Google works? Oh wait ... that's old news.

Martin Oxby

10/24/2012 01:45 pm

This isn't the first time a Googler has seemed to say something that does not 'tow the party line' - maybe there needs to be greater control or monitoring from Google's HQ?


10/24/2012 01:48 pm


Federico Sasso

10/24/2012 02:43 pm

I think "Content Keywords" is the most useless tool provided by GWT (I also got a second in mind). Here's my experience: take a brand new web site, do a "Fetch as Googlebot" of the robots.txt file; the next day "Content Keywords", previously empty, shows "user-agent", "disallow", "crawl-delay"... it's just a mere counter of single words found.

josh bachynski

10/24/2012 03:42 pm

"The content keywords report is not a representative of how Google determines your site's relevance." ... huh?

Duke Tanson

10/24/2012 04:46 pm

Not surprised. If there is any company out there that contradict itself all the time, it's Google. Try calling adwords support helpline and talk to different people on the same issue and you get different answers. It's as if they've been reading different docs given to them by their employers. It's no surprise the web is full of junk.


10/24/2012 06:53 pm

always assumed that and considered about any thing showing in the webmaster panel was google spam trying to cover their tracks to beat the seo foks


10/24/2012 07:30 pm

I don't think this needs any clarification. Google is just saying that the content keywords section provides insight into how Google interprets your content. It does not mention relevancy so I don't see this as being confusing. It was always pretty obvious that the content keywords section was based on word count.


10/24/2012 08:22 pm

google probably supports their employees as badly as the webmasters. John probably means well but he wouldn't have all the information.


10/25/2012 06:03 am

There is a gap there, John is saying it has nothing to do with site relevance and Google is talking about intepreting content but not in terms of relevance (site or otherwise). Also relevance is dependent on the search query isn't it? I think he is also implying is that they look at far more things than just content to decide relevance which is true.


10/25/2012 02:12 pm

Why does this get a 'huh' and then 8 upvotes? The keywords report is just showing you what appears on your site. On the site I work on it is a lot of brand name, contact us, support, etc... I find it refreshing to actually get some clarification when something in the guidelines is ambiguous at best, as we all know it can be. The way I read the clarrification is: It is not representative of how Google determines your site's relevance because simply accumulating a list of words that appear for your entire site isn't how their algo works. If your site is very niche and small, then the list presented by Google in the WMT and the list of keywords that you are targetting may line up with some degree of accuracy, but that is irrelevant. The real tug here is if they update the guidelines to reflect what was said by Mueller or not.


10/25/2012 07:06 pm

I keep my content as tight as possible but when I see something new popping up in targeted keywords/phrases showing up I beef up the site with more content and funnels to convert. I am so sure that Google's got so many squishy manual tweaks to their algo for big brands (they say they don't but they do) and sloshing liquid rules in their math that I'm amazed the damned thing still works at all. Relevance is the Catch 22 of Google - original authoritative content, conversions, hits, time on site, socially shared and inbound hard wired links from better quality relevant sites and all of that aside - there are several hundred million web sites on the internet now. Getting to page one to get the attention and earn the links is impossible unless you're already there or belong to a professionally recognized organization that forms its own authoritative closed circle of self endorsing experts sharing what they have as news (and actually knowing what they're doing counts I think - eg the PubCon circuit speakers and leaders etc). Google's only give us hints and tips on how to interpret their stuff, they're not going to hand out a how to guide. One thing I do if I start seeing a lot of hits and key-phrases leading in another direction is take the content and move it off to its own blog and silo/sequester it, then funnel any sales links to the main product(s). It might be a better Idea to subdomain something like that, but so far I haven't gone that route. To me what's relevant is what the site visitors want to see and read and giving it to them like that helps keeping the numbers moving forward and upward in traffic, page views, conversions and transactions.


10/25/2012 07:11 pm

I just re-read what I wrote above "Getting to page one to get the attention and earn the links is impossible" - LOL - no, that's not true, I wouldn't call myself an SEO of I thought that. I'm referring to small businesses competing with big brands on page one and that takes a heck of a lot of work to get and stay there. It's not impossible, but most small businesses can't afford it, and most clients, unless they're getting an almost identical generic clone (or better) they're likely to go with a brand anyway. IMHO.

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