Improving search engine optimization (SEO) is about as important as it gets for inbound marketing. Any website or blog would try everything possible to get high ranks on the search engine result pages (SERPs). You can find all sorts of information online to help you improve your SEO strategy — including things you should do and things you should avoid doing. Meta keywords are one of those debatable topics.
Though many SEO experts believe meta keywords are a relic of the past, many still use them. In this blog, we will explore why meta keywords are a subject of debate among SEO experts today.
Related read: Common Misconceptions about SEO
Definition of meta keywords
You may think of meta keywords as a subset of metadata tags that reflect what your content is about. Tags are something that most people are already familiar with — thanks to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Because they provide information on the data on your website, these tags have been given the name "metadata."
Meta keywords are not included in the content of a web page in the same way that primary keywords are. They are only readable by search engine bots (and not humans), so they are only visible in a web page's code (HTML). The meta keywords you use provide the search engine with instructions on how to rank your website depending on the keywords you have used.
You can get this information by right-clicking anywhere on any webpage and selecting the "view source code" option.
To summarize, meta keywords are a list of keywords that you enter into the code of your webpage to inform the search engine about the subject matter covered on the page.
What was the problem?
Meta keywords were valuable for better SEO results back in the day when web searching was still a relatively young industry. However, those days did not last for very long.
You know how some people believe that everyone is born innocent and simple, but as they get older, they become more convoluted and disingenuous? That is — to a great extent — how things turned out with web searching.
So do Meta Keywords still matter?
Using meta keywords allowed website owners to "directly command" a search engine to rank their content depending on the meta keywords they used.
You probably already have an idea of what happened next.
Website owners started to manipulate the tool as the search industry became increasingly popular and, as a result, more commercial. They started to include keywords that had nothing to do with the page's content simply because the keywords in question were trending at the time and promised to attract a large number of users. In the world of digital marketing, these practices are called "black hat SEO" or "SEO spam."
What happened next?
Google announced in 2009 that it would no longer use meta keywords to determine search engine rankings. Even though Google is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to discussing the inner workings of its algorithm, this is one of the rare instances where the company has not been very discreet.
The decision to devalue this tool was made by Google (and other search engines) to ensure that the quality of search results is protected. They gave up on this ranking feature because websites were abusing it, which meant they could no longer guarantee that users would get relevant results for their search queries.
So should you stop using meta keywords?
This certainly is a controversial subject. There are a lot of SEO experts that believe that you should not use them at all. Nevertheless, 19% of websites still make use of meta keywords. When you consider that they do not factor into the ranking, the question of why they are still being used arises naturally.
Say there is a 0.001% possibility that search engines will look at those tags. Users will not want to miss out on the chance. As was mentioned before, the algorithms used by search engines are always kept a well-guarded secret so that the results cannot be manipulated in any manner.
Therefore, to err on the side of caution, some websites continue to use meta keywords — after all, who really knows how those algorithms work? On the other hand, there are still 81% of those who do not believe this hypothesis.
What if you want to use meta keywords?
It is important to exercise caution when using meta keywords in your code if you want to avoid being blacklisted by search engines.
Perhaps the most important condition is that you stay away from high-volume keywords that have nothing to do with your content. Not only will this get you nowhere, but it is also considered spam.
Second, it is advised that you use no more than ten keywords — you should avoid "stuffing" your page with extra keywords in the hopes of attracting more readers.
Lastly, when it comes to selecting keywords, the most useful piece of advice is to include long-tail keywords as well as common typos (misspellings) of your primary topic in your list. Because nobody wants to see typos in the content, a good place to include them is in the meta keywords.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo no longer rank meta keywords on their results pages. Therefore, they are virtually obsolete in today's world. Yoast even went so far as to remove the meta keywords toggle from their updated plug-in in favor of the other SEO strategies.
Given that using meta keywords appears to do nothing but waste your time, why would you want to continue doing so?
Contact Print And Web Designer (PWD) today!
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Being in the design business for over 30 years, we've used many kinds of software and hardware, from Microsoft Publisher to Indesign. The freeware NVU to Joomla. From the old typesetting machines to a full-blown four-color press. This isn't complicated. Just as a mechanic uses the basic tools with a few exceptions, so do we.