If you read through our on-site SEO series, you may have noticed that we left out the meta keyword tag. This was on purpose. Why? Because the meta keyword attribute doesn’t have any effect on your search engine ranking. This is because the tag is too easy to abuse. Unscrupulous SEOs were able to stuff these tags with keywords that were invisible to the reader but were still factored into search formulas. Removing rankability for meta keywords refocused weightings back to relevant content and authoritative backlinks.
So, should you use meta keywords tags or not?
The answer is…maybe. Google has removed keywords from consideration but some search engines still include it – for now. History shows us that most search engines follow suit shortly after Google leads by example. For now, there is still some benefit from including a meta keywords tag. But there are risks, too.
While search engines may or may not notice your meta keywords tag, there is a certain group that will: your competitors. If you’ve played your cards right, you’ve probably spent a good amount of time and effort carefully researching your key phrases, and it’d be a shame for someone to drop in, view your page source and copy and paste your keywords for their own campaign.
On that note, if the competitor is you, you should be careful about stealing traffic and key phrases. Particularly, you should avoid using your competitor’s brand names as a keyword. This is not only unethical, in most cases, it’s illegal, too.
If you do choose to create a meta keywords tag, stick to 6 to 8 generic, relevant terms. Instead of including your “money phrases,” just include a couple keywords that give a general idea of what your topic is. This is helpful for content writers and coders as well, as it gives them a better idea about what the focus of the article is. It’s also a good idea to include locations.
You can include the meta keyword tag right after the meta description tag. It should look like this:
<META name=”keywords” content=”keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3, etc”>
Make sure that you separate your keywords with commas, otherwise they’ll appear as one long keyword.
So, to review:
- Meta keyword tags aren’t valued like they used to be. Using them or not using them won’t affect your Google search ranking.
- If you do include a meta keywords tag, stick to generic terms to avoid having your research stolen by competitors.
- Don’t use brand names or other trademarked material as a keyword – it’ll land you in hot water.
Meta keywords are somewhat of a vestigial leftover from the rough and tumble days of SEO. They have a much smaller place in today’s strategies, but the landscape is always evolving. You may want to continue using meta keywords as a habit, just in case they come back in vogue down the road.