Everyone who deals with SEO knows what meta keywords are. For those who don’t know, let’s review the definition of meta keywords.
Meta keywords are meta tags that provide search engines with information about the content on a certain page. A meta keywords tag has the following structure:
Adding meta keywords has never been difficult to do. But the question is whether you should take this SEO nuance seriously? In this post, you will get all the necessary information about meta keywords.
The necessity of using meta keywords
First of all, the meta keywords tag isn’t part of the criteria for page ranking. Hence, Google doesn’t take it into account from this perspective. Plus, the former head of Google’s Webspam Team, Matt Cutts, stated back in 2009 that they do not use the keywords meta tag in their search ranking.
Moreover, if you review a poll by Bill Slawsky, you will see that the majority of SEO experts don’t use the meta keywords tag these days.
Nevertheless, there are other search engines that might seriously consider the meta keywords tag. Let’s review them:
Yandex is a major search engine used mainly in Russia. And if you refer to Yandex’s documentation, you will stumble upon this statement: The meta keywords tag can be used when determining the page’s relevance to search queries.
However, don’t be deceived by this statement that the meta keywords tag is counted as a ranking factor in the Yandex system. Not really. It’s worth noting that this infromation hasn’t been updated since 2018, so could be well out of date.
Despite that, if you take closer to the same poll from Bill Slawsky, you will see that one person states that the meta keywords could be counted as a very low-weight ranking factor.
The situation with the meta keywords tag is pretty interesting in the case of Baidu. In 2012, there was a statement explaining that meta keywords have been ‘in the garbage heap of history’ and Baidu will ignore them completely.
But the April 2020 update tells the opposite: title, description, and keywords are important for Baidu to evaluate a page’s speed.
To sum up, according to the latest update, the meta keywords tag can be counted as one of the ranking factors for Baidu.
Naver covers 74.7% of all searches in South Korea. If you review their extensive documentation on website optimisation, you won’t find any mention about using the meta keywords tag, and there is no mention of meta keywords at all. As a result, you can assume that the meta keywords tag is not used or is counted as a low-weight ranking factor.
A few ways you can use meta keywords
From the information you have above, you can understand that the meta keywords tag is not used most of the time. Regardless, there are a few ways you can use the meta keywords tag.
Internal tagging system
Website builders and content management systems make it much easier to add meta keywords to pages, as do many WordPress SEO plugins. This process allows you to simply repurpose it for an internal tagging system. In other words, you use a tag for your target keyword per page.
For instance, if your target keyword on a given page is social media tools, it will look like the following:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”social media tools”/>
This system works pretty well if you want to check whether you have already targeted some keywords before. If you use an SEO audit tool like Site Audit from Ahrefs, you can run a crawl of your website and find pages with the keyword in the keywords meta tag.
Why do you need to do this?
a) It helps you avoid overlapping your work
Let’s say you have a huge team that is divided into smaller sub-teams. These small sub-teams work on a project, and to avoid targeting the same keyword, they use an internal tagging system.
b) It helps avoid keyword cannibalisation
Keyword cannibalisation happens when a website targets the same keywords across different pages. It might lead to outranking target pages by untargeted ones.
c) It helps find new opportunities for collaboration
There are cases when your target keyword doesn’t rank well. Thus, you might have a desire to collaborate with another team to update your content.
You can be sure that there is nothing to worry about using this internal tagging system.
Explore your competitors’ seed keywords
Notwithstanding the fact that only 33% of SEO professionals take the meta keywords tag seriously, you can still benefit from it. What if, among this 33%, there are some of your competitors?
How can you turn the tables on them? You can find new seed keywords that your competitors target. Just go to their website’s homepage and look for the keywords meta tag there.
Once the keywords are identified, you can proceed with finding more keyword ideas using the Keywords Explorer tool. Just analyse these keywords with the tool and select the ‘Having same terms‘ option.
Explore the opportunities and use them for your own benefit. Eventually, SEO keyword research for boosting organic traffic will reward you.
Answering the question on how to remove meta keywords
If you can monitor your competitors’ meta keywords, so too can they, with yours. So, the question is how to protect yourself?
You don’t need to hire a freelancer who would be SEO-savvy and do this job for you. You can remove meta keywords from your website by yourself.
Before you remove these meta keywords, you first need to find them. To do this, you should use one of the available SEO tools. Due to personal preference let’s take Site Audit and review the Page Explorer option as illustrated above.
You can see the pages on your website that have a meta keywords tag. It is up to you whether or not to remove these tags. If you haven’t noticed any negative SEO impact on your website caused by the meta keywords tag, you shouldn’t bother yourself with it.
Is the game worth the candle?
Let’s clarify: how should you deal with the meta keywords tag? You can find different advice from various SEO experts. Some of them can suggest, for instance, to fill in the meta keywords tag with the list of target keywords.
However, Google doesn’t consider the meta keywords tag as one of the ranking factors.
… keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.Matt Cutts on behalf of Google
Bing uses the meta keywords tag as a spam signal. It will work against you if you’re keyword stuffing. Logically, it would be productive to remove meta keywords tags.
As you can see, it all depends on what search engine you choose to work with, so optimise your website accordingly.
The meta keywords tag in almost 100% of cases is useless. People don’t waste their time filling it out on their websites. However, this article aims to show you the other side of the coin. The meta keywords tag can be quite useful in two cases—for an internal site search, and an internal tagging system. Consequently, if you are a true SEO geek, you should pay attention to these ways with which the meta keywords tag can be used.
Author’s Bio Sergey Aliokhin is a Community Outreach Manager at Visme. When not at work, he likes to spend his time with family, read books on science-fiction, practise playing the bass, and visit the gym.