Does Google still use meta keywords? The answer to that is no — Google hasn’t used meta keywords since 2009.
It was 21 September 2009 when Google published an article stating that they will no longer use meta keywords to rank web search results. So, aptly, you shouldn’t be investing time in adding meta keywords to your website right now.
Achieving a higher ranking in a search engine like Google is a must for businesses. But using meta keywords tags renders no additional value to users, making them obsolete in SEO and digital marketing.
However, many people confuse meta tags like page descriptions and titles with meta keywords. The former is still used by Google search engines and is valuable for SEO, which is not the case with meta keywords.
So we’ve curated this informational guide where you’ll learn more about meta tags and meta keywords.
1. What Are Meta Keywords?
Meta keywords are a certain kind of meta tag that appears in the HTML code of a website and provides information to major search engines regarding the page’s content. These are different from the traditional keywords, as they are present within the code and are not visible to users, which is not the case with the keyword meta tag.
When selecting and optimising meta keywords, you should make sure that it clearly explains the content of your webpage. For example, if your website is about cooking supplies, it’s no brainer to use the meta keywords like ‘casserole,’ ‘dish’ and ‘spatula’ rather than ‘mortgage’ or ‘divorce lawyer.’
Before 2009, Google used these keywords to rank web pages, and it was important for businesses to pay importance to them since they determined the overall traffic. But the scenario has completely changed.
2. Why Did Google Discontinue The Use Of Meta Keywords?
The primary reason behind discontinuing Google’s meta keywords was that they were being spammed and overused by SEO marketers and professionals for a long time. In an attempt to exploit the system, they even copied keywords from other websites. Matt Cutts, then SEO expert of Google, mentions that these are no longer important while ranking a website, as professionals just used them to stay on top of the search page.
So, what can we conclude? People can’t have it all, and SEO experts will constantly strive for a quick path to stay on top of the search results.
Similar to Google, Yahoo (2009) and Bing (2014) announced that they are also discontinuing the use of meta keywords to rank websites.
Are there any search engines that still use them? To our surprise, yes, two such engines still use them: Baidu and Yandex. Baidu is a popular Chinese search engine that uses these keywords during the search ranking and crawling phase. At the same time, Yandex is a Russian engine that uses them to determine the relevance of a page for search queries.
3. Should You Remove Meta Keywords From Your Web pages?
It depends entirely on you. If you want to generate organic traffic on Baidu and Yandex, and there are already several meta keywords on the web pages, you can continue with them. However, if your primary focus lies in generating traffic on Google, we’d recommend not adding any other keywords. The SEO signals received from them are usually very light and don’t need much attention.
So what are the best practices for using meta keywords? Don’t overuse meta keywords if you’re considering adding them to your page. Make sure to add only 3 or 4 highly relevant keywords.
4. If Meta Keywords Are Not Valid Anymore, What You Should do?
Amongst the existing search engines, Google is by far the most popular. And as Google does not use meta keywords, some meta tags are crucial for keeping your page on top of the search result.
Let us explain what a keyword meta tag is. These are text snippets that you may place at the top of your web page to help search engines understand what the content is all about. Meta tags follow a set syntax and are only accessible to search engines.
Meta keywords tags apply to small search engines like Baidu and Yandex. On the other hand, some tags like meta descriptions, title and meta reboots are vital for SEO in most search engines, including Google. Businesses may rank their websites better in search engines by using some of the following meta tags.
A. Title Tags
A title tag is probably the most important SEO and digital marketing element. It’s primarily because of the following reasons:
- Provides search engines with a clue about the contents of a page
- The first line is shown in search results
- It is shown as the title of a post when it gets shared as social media posts
- It is shown as the tab title
B. Meta Description Tag
Meta description tag is also an important SEO element and is shown as a part of the text snippet in result pages.
A compelling tag will appeal to most users who will be encouraged to click on the search result, boosting your website traffic and click-through rates (CTR). Search snippets with high click-through rates and traffic rank higher and appear on top of the search results. It serves as an indirect SEO factor that has gained much importance in the last few years.
Long story short, search terms that appear in the meta description tag are highlighted by search engines, thereby making it more user-relevant and, in turn, generating more clicks.
C. Meta Robots Tag
The meta robots tag is primarily used to instruct search engines about treating a particular web page.
Critical values of this tag are followed, index, nofollow and noindex. “Index” means allowing search engines to index and deliver the results, while “follow” refers to following any external links present on the page. On the other hand, “noindex” means instructing search engines to not direct to the index page, and “nofollow” means not following any links from the web page.
Meta robots are considered critical for SEO as any misconfiguration leads to a page not being indexed by search engines, which prevents it from being ranked or receiving traffic. These are crucial aspects of technical SEO that optimise a website for the indexing and crawling phase.
5. Other Use Cases For Meta Keywords
Until now, you’ve realised that content marketers don’t need to use meta keywords in their meta tag, but you can still use them for the following purpose:
A. Creating An Internal Tagging System
Many website builders and CMS (Content Management Systems) have added these keywords into web pages through several WordPress SEO plugins. As a result, you can deftly repurpose the internal keyword tagging system. You need to set the tag as the target keyword for your page.
If you can do this for each web page, it’ll become easier to validate your targeted keyword for the future. You need to install an auditing tool on the website, such as Site Audit, and then use Page Explorer to check for pages that have your keyword in the meta keywords tag.
This prevents keyword cannibalisation, wherein a website targets a single keyword across several web pages. Hence, you can avoid having a similar keyword across several pages. If you’re a part of an enterprise SEO, having an internal tagging system helps teams avoid targeting the same keyword.
B. Finding Seed Keywords From Competitors
A recent Twitter poll by Bill Slawski revealed that nearly 33% of enterprises are still using meta keywords tags. Since many of these are bound to be your competitors, it’s handy to find seed keywords during keyword research. So, start looking for keywords tags on your competitor’s web page.
Do you still use meta keywords tags on pages you optimize?— Bill Slawski ⚓ 🇺🇦 (@bill_slawski) May 29, 2020
For instance, some keyword meta tags for the web page of a popular toy store can be ‘games’, ‘toys’, ‘inflatables’, ‘slides’, ‘climbing games’ and similar terms. If you look into HTML source code on an Amazon page, you might see a keyword element in use.
So, choose a few interesting keywords and enter them into keyword research tools like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to generate an ideas report. It will generate thousands or even millions of results for keywords ideal for your web page, including SEO metrics and monthly search volumes. You can then use inbuilt filters to narrow down your search results for specific purposes, like selecting those with low difficulty scores.
P.S.- Just make sure to check a few competitor sites before finding any relevant meta keywords tag, as many fill their sites with junk words or leave them empty.
6. How To Remove The Meta Keywords?
If you’re using meta keywords for spying on others’ web pages, there’s no reason why others can’t do the same. Hence, you may want to remove any meta keywords from your page if there is no specific reason to use them.
Start by finding meta keywords using Webmaster tools designed explicitly for this purpose. As mentioned above, download the plugin and use the respective filters in the Page Explorer option. A list of pages and keywords included in each page will be generated as a result. If you don’t get one, there are no tags on any of your pages.
From there, you’d need to run through all keywords and remove the tags from the pages.
That being said, it’s not worth your time if you have a big website with different tags on every page. However, if you have a single meta keyword tag on all of your pages, it is possible that it was found from the same location on the website. If that’s the case, you can remove all the tags by editing just a part of the source code.
But overall, meta keywords are unlikely to negatively impact the website unless there’s a fear that your competitors might be spying and stealing your keywords. It’ll be wise to invest your time elsewhere.
Should You Be Using Meta Keywords
Since Google stopped ranking websites based on meta keywords tag, 99.9% have rendered it useless and not worth investing time in them. You should only use them for a particular reason, like an internal site search or an internal tagging system.
Besides that, pay more importance to meta tags like meta description and title page, which Google currently uses. Meta tags aren’t that hard to implement yourself, and you won’t need any professional programmer for the purpose. Just a basic knowledge of HTML will be enough for you.
Lastly, you need to find a compelling meta title to paste into your meta tags, and that’s it. Also, write your meta description correctly to help rank your website higher in the Google search engine.
Our team’s goal is to help you understand the intricacies of SEO practices. You can contact the team at sitecentre® if you need help finding meta keywords, creating compelling meta descriptions, or writing meta tags.
We’ll see you soon!