Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords: What Are They & Should You Use Them for SEO?

Ashkar Gomez
11min read
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You might think this post is no longer necessary: after all, people are aware that the meta keyword tag is pretty much useless nowadays, right? Yet we still see website owners using meta keywords on their sites.

Google Trends reveals that people are still searching for meta keywords, although the number of queries has reduced over the years.

But before you rush to stuff every meta keyword possible into your meta tags, hold on! 

This blog will provide detailed insights into the usage of Meta Keywords, including key aspects such as:

  • Should You Use Meta Keywords?
  • Why Did Google Discontinue The Use Of Meta Keywords?
  • Do Other Search Engines Use Meta Keywords?

What Are Meta Keywords?

Meta keywords

Meta keywords, also referred to as meta tags, are snippets of text embedded within a webpage’s HTML code.

Even though users can’t see them, these keywords are vital for search engines, helping in the process of indexing and categorizing content.

In the early days of SEO, meta keywords held a significant impact in determining search rankings. However, with the advancement of search engine algorithms, their importance has decreased.

When choosing and optimizing meta keywords, it’s essential to ensure they clearly describe the page’s content. 

Before 2009, Google heavily relied on these keywords to appropriately rank pages based on visibility and relevance, making it crucial for businesses to give them due attention as they directly influenced overall traffic. 

Should You Use Meta Keywords?

Forget stuffing keywords! While meta keywords once held significant power, they now have minimal impact on ranking. In fact, misusing them can harm your SEO.

Focus on these powerful tags instead:

  • Title tags: Craft clear, unique titles that accurately reflect your content and attract clicks.
  • Meta descriptions: provide users with concise summaries that highlight key benefits and encourage engagement with CTA.

Why ditch meta keywords?

  • Limited influence: Search engines prioritize content and title tags for ranking.
  • Spam risk: Keyword stuffing can trigger penalties from search engines.
  • Competitor exposure: Revealing your keyword strategy isn’t helpful.

Optimize your content strategically:

  • Target relevant keywords: Research and identify high-value keywords to target naturally within your content.
  • Prioritize readability: Don’t sacrifice natural language for keyword density.
  • Unique approach: Each page deserves a unique and specific target keyword.

Meta keywords are supplementary, not essential.  Focus on quality content and strong SEO practices for the best results.

Why Did Google Discontinue the Use of Meta Keywords?

The decision to discontinue Google’s meta keywords primarily grew from the prolonged misuse of keyword meta tags by SEO marketers and professionals. 

Over time, these individuals used the system by quickly and recklessly copying keywords from various websites and incorporating often irrelevant keywords to increase volume, attempting to manipulate search rankings.

According to John Mueller, an SEO expert at Google, meta keywords no longer hold significance in website ranking. Professionals had been using them strategically to maintain their position on search pages. 

In summary, there’s a trade-off: while people can’t have it all, SEO rankings continue to be a priority. SEO experts consistently strive to identify the key ranking factors to secure top positions in Google’s web search results.

Google Discontinue the Use of Meta Keywords

Major search engines, including the Google search appliance, Yahoo (2009), and Bing (2014), collectively decided to discontinue the use of meta keywords for ranking websites.

However, it’s surprising that two search engines, Baidu and Yandex, still employ meta keywords. 

Baidu, a popular Chinese search engine, utilizes these keywords during web search ranking and crawling. 

Simultaneously, Yandex, a well-known Russian search engine, uses meta keywords to assess the relevance of a page for specific search queries.

Do other search engines use Meta keywords?

Search Engine Uses meta keywords? Notes
Google
No
Discontinued use in 2009.
Bing
No
Discontinued use in 2014.
Yahoo
No
Discontinued use in 2009.
Yandex
Yes
Maybe a low-weight ranking factor.
Baidu
Yes
Considered along with other factors.
Naver
No
Does not use meta keywords for ranking.

SEO Strategies to Focus on Instead of Meta Keywords

SEO Strategies

Now that we’ve taken the meta keywords tag from your optimization checklist, let’s shift focus to more impactful strategies that deserve your attention:

1. Technical Optimization:

  • Ensure your page loads fast and is optimized for mobile devices. Prioritize a seamless user experience and check if Google correctly indexes your site.
  • Resolve technical issues, as they significantly influence your page rankings.

2. Well-Targeted Keywords:

  • Keywords remain essential for SEO, but don’t depend on the meta keywords tag.
  • Incorporate well-targeted keywords strategically in headers and throughout your content.
  • This signals search engines like Google, increasing your visibility to those seeking your offerings.

3. Great Quality Content:

  • Google’s crawlers are smart; they can tell the difference between content made for readers and content made just to trick the ranking system.
  • Write for your audience, prioritizing quality over SEO. Optimize your content if you’re targeting organic traffic.

4. Featured Snippets:

  • Securing a featured snippets in SERPs can greatly enhance your click-through rate.
  • Increase your chances by creating high-quality articles that answer specific queries relevant to your audience.

5. High-Quality Backlinks:

  • Build high-quality backlinks to enhance your domain and page authority.
  • While link building is a gradual process, gaining links from quality websites enhances your site’s overall search performance.

6. Awareness of SEO Trends:

  • Learn from the meta keywords saga that SEO practices are ever-evolving.
  • Stay informed about Google algorithm updates and user trends, adapting your digital marketing strategies accordingly.

Putting your attention on these strategies, you’re not only optimizing your website effectively but also aligning with the dynamic nature of SEO, ensuring sustained success in the digital world.

Conclusion

In summary, the relevance of meta keywords in SEO has diminished over time, with major search engines like Google discontinuing their use in 2009. 

Current SEO strategies prioritize high-quality content, user experience, and ethical optimization techniques. 

Website owners are encouraged to know how search engines works and adapt their strategies to the evolving criteria set by search engines for sustained online visibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are meta keywords visible to site visitors?

No, meta keywords are only visible within the page code and are not showcased on the live page for users.

Can you get penalized for bad meta-keyword optimization?

While not a direct cause, the excessive use of spammy keywords across a site can result in manual actions.

Does Google read meta keywords?

No, Google does not use meta keywords as a ranking factor. The search algorithm relies on more advanced methods, emphasizing quality content and user experience.

Do people still use meta keywords?

No, meta keywords are not widely used or considered impactful in contemporary SEO practices, as major search engines, including Google, do not use them as a ranking factor.

Ashkar Gomez

Ashkar Gomez

Ashkar Gomez is the Founder of 7 Eagles (a Growth Marketing & SEO Company). Ashkar started his career as a Sales Rep in 2013 and later shifted his career to SEO in 2014. He is one of the leading SEO experts in the industry with 8+ years of experience. He has worked on 200+ projects across 20+ industries in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, UAE, Australia, South Africa, and India. Besides SEO and Digital Marketing, he is passionate about Data Analytics, Personal Financial Planning, and Content Writing.

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