Meta keywords refer to a Meta tag you could use in the HTML code of your site. In theory, you would use this tag to offer the search engines more info regarding what your page is about. The search engines would then read the keywords in the tag plus say, “Oh that is what you want to rank for. Okay, let us move this site to the top!”
And it did work, back in the day while the search engines were not as wise to the games people play (and when they did not have advanced algorithms that could notice much more useful rank signals). The problem was that it was just too easy to spam the system throughout keyword stuffing, the practice of jamming every pertinent, semi-relevant, and irrelevant keyword you could think of to try to bring more traffic to your site.
Why are Meta Keywords ignored as a ranking factor?
As said by the gurus at Google and on the Google Webmaster Blog, it is because of abuse by SEOs (no surprise there). Early search engines were paying attention to ‘on-page’ factors, i.e the content found on a website to decide to rank. As such, webmasters realized that the Meta keywords tag was a suitable place to input numerous keywords without essentially having the user see them. As a result, it turned into a haven for keyword stuffing which ultimately led to them being ignored as a reliable signal. It was way before Google that other search engines had detected this black hat behavior, shown by Alta Vista discounting it as a rank factor way back in 2002.
Understanding Meta Keywords
Meta keywords are a kind of HTML <meta> tag that communicates to search engine crawlers what a web page is about. It was originally designed in 1995 and was used a great deal by old search engines as a rank factor.
Unlike usual keywords, these are not displayed significantly on web pages. in its place, you can find them in source codes as well as are written like this:
<meta name=” keywords” content=” SEO, search engine optimization, search engine optimization, search engine ranking”>
The essential idea surrounding Meta keywords was simple. Webmasters would occupy the meta keywords tag with the keywords they wanted to grade for. It moreover told search engines which keywords were most pertinent to the content of a given web page.
The Fall of Meta Keywords
In the early 1990s plus early 2000s, Meta keywords were used reliably by webmasters. However, with the contest for page ranking getting stiffer plus stiffer, the SEO industry began to abuse and misuse the Meta keyword tag.
Black Hat SEO practices such as keyword stuffing started becoming the standard to dominate the search engine ranking pages (SERPs).
SEOs would load the Meta keyword ground with keyword phrases that were only approximately pertinent to a page’s content. Some would use up to 50 of these keyword phrases just to boost their chances of rank high in the SERPs.
Some SEO practitioners would also use completely irrelevant but high-volume keywords to pad organic traffic statistics.
This was usually done by SEO to take benefit of any lapses in search engine algorithms. Others argue that this was just a way to take full benefit of the opportunity to cover as many legitimate keywords as possible.
This misuse plus overuse led to the tag’s incapability to provide significant ranking data and in 2009, Google declared that it would no longer be using the keyword Meta tag in its web search rank.
Other search engines have moreover refined their search engine algorithms well sufficient to the point wherever the keyword tag is no longer required. They could interpret what a web page is about without relying on these HTML tags which means their search outcome was far more pertinent to its users.
Also, search engines use other factors to precisely decide page rank.
How Do Meta Keywords Relate to SEO?
Compared to the usual keywords, Meta keywords are not considered big elements of SEO strategy. Most search engines do not weigh Meta keywords high while it comes to their ranking algorithm, mostly because of understanding of black hat SEO strategy such as keyword stuffing.
These practices have flooded the Meta keyword field, bloating preceding algorithms, thus pushing algorithms to change. Still, this does not mean that meta keywords are not a useful part of SEO.
In addition to usual keywords, they play a significant part in communicating your webpage’s message as well as attracting searchers to your site distinctively. When it comes to the world of online business plus digital marketing, you are in a competitive atmosphere. Keeping this in mind, Meta keywords might give you an edge over your contest in search engine optimization.
Why are Meta Keywords Important?
Meta keywords can be significant owing to the little increase they give your site in a search engine. Unluckily, Meta keywords were more likely to aid your rank in the earlier days of the Internet plus technology.
Search engines’ algorithms are so intricate that they can gather more info from your website than ever before. With this in mind, it is safe to say that Meta keywords are a little out of date. They could be useful, yes, however, are they needed?
To offer some viewpoint, most search engines like Google plus others no longer search for meta keywords because they do not need to be told which keywords must rank. Due to the intricacy of most modern search engines, they can learn which keywords you would rank on their own.
Search engines are so highly developed now that they can identify keywords that you weren’t even conscious of. When this occurs, you might find your site ranking even higher than you had considered which is why keyword research as well as strategy is so significant.
Do they affect SEO in 2020?
Since search engines converted a thing, Meta tags have been around, playing a significant role in search page rankings.
People abused them for a while to gain a high position on search pages and simply climb on top, which led to Google announcing that their use did not affect rankings any longer. But, just since they aren’t important for rankings don’t mean they do not affect SEO.
Should You Use Meta Keywords in 2020
To put it merely, using Meta keywords to develop your search website’s search ranking is no longer as significant as it once was.
Search engines just don’t rely on them any longer. Google and Yahoo overlook them and instead use other factors to determine search ranking. For the moment, Bing only ever uses meta keywords as a spam sign If your precise meta keywords do not appear in your document then your site would be penalized.
There are, though, still uses for Meta keywords that are not connected to SEO. For starters, they might be useful if your CMS uses Meta keywords for inner search. A search engine incorporated into your website can access saved keywords when a search query is made. Also, the saved keywords can moreover be stored in the backend.
The new value of Meta keywords
Nowadays, the greatest way to use the Meta keywords tag is to hope your competitor is in the 50% still showing and updating their keywords. If you want to get a peek into the top key phrases your top contest is using, check out the page source of their top pages.
The days of convincing search engines you are worthy of a top-ranking via Metadata alone might be old news, but any info the competition wants to share is useful information indeed.
How do Search Engines USE Meta Keywords now?
Search Engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo do not tend to rank Meta keywords any longer. So they are approximately un-needed today. Yoast metadata, the astonishing WordPress Plugin even goes out of their way to say no to meta keywords.
So, why would you want to continue using Meta keywords when all they seem to do is waste your time? Yoast even has gone as far as eliminating the Meta keywords toggle out of their updated plug-in in favor of the other SEO technique. This feature has been eliminated since mid-February 2018.
Google and Meta Keywords
Since Google is the number one search engine in the world, and we know this owing to how we live our lives. We all say ‘I’ll Google that’, while we don’t know something. It would just be strange if we said, ‘Let’s Bing that’, otherwise ‘Wait, I’m going to Yahoo that’.
It might be finest to let you know how Google still uses Meta Keywords.
Practically Google is very alike to other search engines for example Yahoo and Bing. It does not use the Meta keywords like it once did. In brief, using them may be just a waste of your time, and your main emphasis should be more on the Title Tags plus the Meta description, which is talked about below.
Meta Tags that Matter
There are other meta tags that Google as well as other search engines think significant. Most websites use these Meta tags and they could help your website reach high rankings.
The meta title tag is the title which shows on search results pages, this is the part wherever researchers could click to go to a specific website. These are significant because they directly state what your page includes. Title tags are the first thing Google users would see when they search for anything.
Focus on the extent of your title tag, do not make them too long since Google allows a limited amount of characters. Make the most out of it, as well as make your title straight to the point.
Meta Descriptions are situated exactly under title tags on search results pages. They are the second thing that your audience’s eyes will fall on. These descriptions are like a teaser to your content.
You must make sure they are attractive, and reveal what your page comprises in a sentence or two. Meta descriptions moreover have a restricted number of characters. Do not make them too short nor too long, specialists suggest that 160-character-long is the most appropriate length for Meta descriptions.
An alternative to Meta Keywords: Focus on Content-Length Instead
Whether you choose to use Meta keywords or not, the choice is completely up to you. If you choose not to, rest assured that you are not missing on a grade factor anyway. The most significant aspect if you choose to use them is to be cautious that your keywords are not misleading toward the search engine.
Also, spend more time investing in your website’s content itself or else other more significant SEO tips. Remember that other Meta tags, for example, title tags or Meta descriptions are the windows toward your website. They will affect your SEO results and your amount of viewers. Make certain your window looks nice plus inviting to researchers. Lastly, make content your topmost priority and work on improving it rather than focusing on Meta keywords.
Finding the balance is the key
Content marketing is all about making the perfect mixture of genuine, high-quality writing, as well as professional optimization practices.
Where several falls are by focusing too much on one aspect. You should not worry too much about overcrowding SEO keywords in your writing. You moreover shouldn’t be writing freely without considering how search engines would view your content.
It is a fine balance. It is also feasible. With SEO tools as well as real experts on your team, your content can connect with both your viewers and the search engines.
As stated above, Meta keywords are typically a waste of time. Also, our advice would be for you to focus more on the tags as well as target keywords for your content.
Here’s how you must go about doing this:
Each page on your site must have a unique main target keyword. This must be used to inform both the content of the article itself, in addition to all of its Meta tags.
However, while you do this it is vitally important to avoid keyword stuffing. In its place, your body copy as well as Meta tags should contain target keywords in a natural plus descriptive manner.
Currently serving as the Managing Director of SEO Discovery, Mandeep Singh is an ardent reader, learner, and writer. He embarked on a career in Digital Marketing decades ago. Since then, he has been providing solutions to many businesses. He also takes time to keep readers posted with what he learned while building his years of experience. That’s so because he believes in the concept of sharing his expertise.