Meta Keyword Tags: Should You Use Them?

google keywordsMeta keyword tags (or meta keywords) were once a foundational element of on-page SEO. However, as search engines have evolved, and how ranking factors have developed over time, the importance of meta keywords has diminished significantly.

The Internet is full of conflicting information, so you may be wondering whether it’s still worth using meta keyword tags in your website code anymore. Let’s take a very brief look and find out whether they are of any use in today’s complex and evolving SEO landscape.

What are Meta Keyword Tags?

Meta keywords are HTML tags that allow web page authors to specify keywords and phrases that are relevant to a particular page.

The keyword tags themselves are inserted into the site’s HTML code, and thus are not visible to users but are readable by search engines.

In the early days of SEO, meta keywords were seen as a way to tell search engines what a page was about. Having a comprehensive list of relevant keywords in the meta tags was considered crucial for ranking well on Google and other search engines for specific terms or questions that were searched.

Do Meta Keywords Add Any Value?

In short – not much. Google has stated that it doesn’t use meta keywords as a ranking factor, with the search giant considering them “spammy”, unnecessary and easy to manipulate.

While meta keywords can still be inserted in the site code, the search engine itself will likely be prioritising other ranking factors like page load speed, user experience, content relevancy, and many other tags like meta descriptions and titles. Therefore, meta keywords don’t carry as much weight as they once did.

This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid meta keywords. They may still be used by other search engines like Bing, which itself can be an important channel for targeting new audience segments through paid advertising and organic content. However, focusing most of your optimisation efforts on meta keywords is, to be frank, a waste of time.

Instead, make sure your content contains natural keyword usage that reads naturally for users. Instead of the ‘black hat’ approach of using keywords in as many sentences as possible, thread them into content where appropriate so it does not deviate from the message. This kind of optimisation has a much bigger impact than stuffing keywords into meta tags.

5 Other Important Tags to Use Instead of Meta Keywords

  • Meta Description – A short description of the page that shows up as snippet text in SERPs. While not a ranking factor, it can boost click-through rates significantly.
  • Alt Text – Descriptive text for images that helps search engines understand the context and image content, which can also be valuable for searchers with visual difficulties or impairments.
  • H1, H2, H3 etc. – A defined, logical heading structure on your pages helps highlight important topics and keywords and makes crawlability easier for robots.
  • Schema Markup – Customised code that adds extra data like ratings, prices, and more which can make your SERP listings and products stand out to prospective searchers.
  • Open Graph Metadata – Customise how your pages look when shared on social media, and what contextual information can be used for readers.

Focus on High-Value SEO Tactics

Rather than worrying about meta keyword tags, put your energy into higher-value SEO activities:

While meta keywords were once important, most modern SEO best practices have moved far beyond them. Following today’s guidelines will serve your rankings much better than relying on outdated tactics.

At Artemis, we have extensive experience providing high-quality SEO and CRO services for businesses across the UK, from local, independent businesses to large, multinational corporations. If you are interested in working with us, please get in contact with our experienced team today.