Meta keywords are useless! To many of you, this may be old news, but to an SEO novice such as myself, it was quite a shock. As I was reading up on best practices to enhance my SEO skills – I saw the light. It then dawned on me that so many ecommerce platforms still leave in space for meta keywords which prompts users to think they must be entered. Here is an overview of why the meta keyword is dead and what you should be doing instead.
Meta keywords date back to the mid ‘90s. The internet was in a relatively infant stage and one could add a meta tag on a page, indicating that page’s main keywords. This meta keywords element (like all meta elements) is invisible to visitors but visible to search engines. The keywords you put into this element’s content attribute would then be used as a ranking factor by the search engines.
If this sounds like asking search engines directly to just rank you for whatever keyword you wished, that’s what it was. And if you think that’s too good to be true, you’re still correct. It turned out to be. Of course, as the web grew and became more commercial, people took advantage and began spamming this meta keywords, forcing search engines to begin ignoring it.
This brings us to the year 2009 – Google announced officially what was true for years back then: “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking”. A few weeks later Yahoo! announced they no were no longer using the meta keywords tag and by 2014, Bing issued the following statement:
“Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.”
In fact, Bing even suggested that by using meta keywords the wrong way it would likely work against you, because it’s viewed as a spam signal rather than a ranking signal. Rather than comb your data archives trying to come up with the most efficient and effective meta keywords, skip this section and channel your energies to more effective means of SEO optimization, like blogs and keywords, or just enhance your UX with better search functionalities and more robust content.