Meta Keywords : A Complete Guide

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Meta keywords are small parts of HTML code that search engines often look for. They were once considered the most important part of search engine optimization. They allowed web page authors to sprinkle their content with relevant keywords, signaling what the page was about to search engines. But as time passed, their significance declined, and their importance diminished.

It was the early 1990s when websites used to jam a bunch of keywords into their meta tags to rank higher on search engines. That’s considered one of the first SEO techniques ever implemented before people realized the vast world of search engine optimization. Back then, search engines relied heavily on the meta keyword field in the HTML metadata to determine how relevant a page was to a user’s query. The more Organic keywords a page had, the better and higher it ranked in the search results.

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It’s unclear if Google and other search engines even look at the meta keywords. Some people think that they might even hurt your rankings, especially if you use too many keywords that don’t match your content or are spammy (like “poker,” “credit,” or “download”). Unlike the meta title and meta description, which are still crucial parts of SEO, the meta keywords are often ignored or left empty.

Key Takeaways

  • Meta keywords were once a significant component of SEO but have lost their relevance over time. They are HTML tags that allow webmasters to specify keywords related to their content.
  • Search engines initially used meta keywords to understand the themes and subjects of web pages. However, their reliance on meta keywords declined as search engine algorithms matured.
  • Major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo no longer consider meta keywords in their ranking algorithms. Google abandoned meta keywords in 2009, stating they played no role in search rankings.
  • The abuse of meta keywords, such as keyword stuffing, led to their decreased importance. Search engines recognized this and adjusted their algorithms to prioritize other factors.
  • Other SEO factors, such as high-quality content, user experience, backlinks, page load speed, and mobile friendliness, have a far greater impact on search rankings than meta keywords.
  • Meta keywords are not visible to users and do not influence click-through rates. Elements like meta titles and descriptions have a more significant role in attracting users to click on search results.
  • Spending time on SEO strategies such as creating valuable content, optimizing page titles and meta descriptions, using descriptive URLs, improving site speed, obtaining backlinks, and utilizing social media is more beneficial.

What Are Meta Keywords?

Meta Keywords HTML Example

Imagine a secret language hidden within your web page’s source code. That’s precisely where meta keywords reside. These HTML tags reside within an HTML document’s <head> section, allowing webmasters to specify keywords and phrases that are highly relevant to their content. The syntax is simple:

<meta name= “keywords” content= “keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3”>

Enclosed within the content attribute, keywords are separated by commas.

It’s worth noting that the ordinary user of your website doesn’t see the meta keyword syntax. They remain concealed, as they’re only shown when a person with admin access to the website or the content publisher edits the website page. This sets them apart from keywords used within the visible content of a page.

When meta keywords were in vogue, the general recommendation was to include around 5–10 keywords that accurately described the essence of the page. The idea behind this approach was to assist search engines in comprehending a page’s core themes and subjects.

However, as search engines evolved and developed sophisticated algorithms, their reliance on meta keywords diminished. These days, other signals carry far more weight in determining a page’s relevance and ranking. So, while meta keywords seem essential to SEO, their influence has largely decreased.

The Rise and Fall of Meta Keywords

To fully grasp the significance (or lack thereof) of meta keywords, we’re taking a much-needed journey to the early days of the web. During that era, search engines got by with crawling, indexing, and deciphering the vast expanse of cyberspace. Meta tags, including keywords, descriptions, and titles, emerged to help search engines navigate the web more efficiently.

Meta keywords were designed to help search engines learn the specifics and context of the website and its webpages, thus enabling relevant documents to surface in search results for keyword-based queries.

Meta keywords proved useful for several reasons in the early days of SEO because:

  • Search engines heavily relied on on-page signals to understand the content of a page, and meta keywords served as a valuable cue.
  • The web was smaller, so the abuse of meta keywords was less prevalent.
  • Since search engines only considered a limited number of keywords, the risk of keyword stuffing was minimal.
  • Spam sites manipulating meta keywords weren’t that popular back then.
  • During this period, meta keywords became one of the primary on-page optimization strategies.

But as search engines grew more sophisticated, they devised new ways to analyze and comprehend page content beyond the scopes of meta keywords. Consequently, the significance of meta keywords began to fade, and search engines gradually phased out their reliance on them as a ranking factor entirely.

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Deprecation of Meta Keywords in Search Engine Algorithms

In the modern age of search engine algorithms, meta keywords hold little to no power and influence over your page’s ranking. Major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have clarified that meta keywords are inconsequential in determining search rankings.

Google, the reigning search titan, abandoned using meta keywords as far back as 2009. The company unambiguously stated that meta keywords were “ignored completely” and played “no role in our search ranking.”

One of the primary reasons for this disregard was the rampant abuse of meta keywords by countless webmasters in the early 2000s. The practice of keyword stuffing and other spam tactics led to low-quality pages outranking their more deserving counterparts. Meta keywords were relegated to the sidelines by major search engines like Google.

Bing and Yahoo, two other prominent search engines, have also confirmed that they no longer factor meta keywords into their ranking algorithms. They, too, recognized the shortcomings of meta keywords and moved on.

There is, however, a potential exception: the Russian search engine Yandex. Some evidence suggests that Yandex may still consider meta keywords to a certain extent. Nevertheless, even in this case, the impact of meta keywords on rankings is still minimal.

Should You Still Use Meta Keywords In Your SEO Strategy?

Given the decreasing relevance of meta keywords, it’s unnecessary to use them anymore. Here’s why:

  • Search engines don’t consider them: When determining search rankings, major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo ignore meta keywords. Their algorithms use a wide range of signals beyond meta keywords to understand a page’s content.
  • Potential for keyword stuffing: Webmasters previously abused meta keywords by stuffing them with irrelevant or excessive keywords. In turn, this resulted in poor user experience and poor-quality search results. As a result, search engines adjusted their algorithms to account for this practice.
  • Limited impact on CTR: Users cannot see meta keywords when they visit your website. They only exist in the source code. Due to their invisibility, users do not consider them when deciding search results. In addition to meta titles and descriptions, other elements contribute to your website’s click-through rate.

How To Use Meta Keywords Properly?

Here are some of the best use-cases for Meta Keywords in your SEO strategy

1 – Establish an internal tagging system

Many content management systems (CMS) and website builders provide easy options to add meta keywords to pages. This feature can be repurposed as an internal keyword tagging system. Simply set the tag as your target keyword for each page.

For instance, if your page’s target keyword is “SEO tips,” the meta tag would look like this:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”seo tips”/>

Implementing this strategy on all pages will permit you to quickly determine if you’ve already identified a particular search term in the future. You can use auditing tools to crawl your site and then utilize Page Explorer to identify pages with your target keyword in the meta keywords tag.

There are three reasons why this can be advantageous:

  • Prevent keyword cannibalization: Keyword cannibalization happens when a website targets the same keyword across multiple pages, leading to unwanted pages outranking more in-demand ones.
  • Avoid Duplicate Content Issues: Several teams and individuals may work on similar projects in enterprise SEO. You can avoid different teams targeting the same keyword unintentionally by using an internal keyword tagging system.
  • Identify collaboration opportunities: Collaborating with another team can help you improve and update your content if your ranking for a particular keyword isn’t great.

Discover ‘Seed’ Keywords From Competitors

Approximately 33% of people still use the keywords meta tag. Given that some of these individuals will likely be your competitors, you can use this to find ‘seed keywords’ during your keyword research. You can find the keywords meta tag on your competitor’s homepage by searching for it.

While meta keywords can be used to gain insights into your competitors’ keywords, it’s important to remember that they can also be used against you. For this reason, unless you have a valid reason to use them, removing any remaining meta keywords from your website is advisable. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Identify meta keywords on your website

Many tools are available when it comes to learning about the existing meta keywords on your website, as most of them crawl and index all the pages that use meta keywords and help you by providing a quick solution to detect them.

  • Remove the meta keywords

Once you have identified the pages with meta keywords, you can proceed to remove the tags from those pages. If you have a large website with meta keywords tags on every page, it may not be worth the effort to remove them individually.

However, if you notice that the same meta keywords appear across all pages, they are likely being pulled from a single location in your content management system (CMS), template, or theme. In such cases, you can edit just one piece of code to remove the meta keywords from all pages.

It’s important to note that having meta keywords tags on your website is unlikely to harm your SEO. Unless you are overly concerned about competitors stealing your keywords, investing your time and efforts elsewhere is generally more productive.

If you need assistance optimizing your website and outranking competitors, partner with Digital Brandria. Our team of SEO experts stays up-to-date on the latest algorithms and best practices to improve your rankings and traffic. We perform comprehensive technical audits to identify optimization opportunities and provide tailored recommendations to meet your business goals. To learn more about our premier SEO Agency in Egypt, contact Digital Brandria today.