One question that seems to come up over and over pertains to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the importance of meta keywords. Plainly stated, we don’t use them. For the simple reason that they are almost completely irrelevant and often do more harm than good. Nearly all major search engines that once used them stopped in the late 1990′s. For some reason, this is a SEO myth that never seems to die.
In 2009, Google announced on its official blog that it does not use meta tags for ranking websites (and has no intention of using them in the future). Why? About a decade ago, keyword meta tags quickly became a way to stuff a website with irrelevant keywords to dive traffic from unrelated search terms. As a result of this persistent abuse, most search engines quickly abandoned (or significantly reduced the importance of) keyword meta tags in ranking websites.
Below is a video of Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, giving an explanation of why keyword meta tags are not a factor for Google.
In addition to Google, other search engines have made similar announcements regarding the keyword meta tag. In October of 2009, Yahoo! had made an announcement similar to the one Google made just one month before. In addition, Bing representatives have stated that meta keywords are mainly used to identify spammers, but if used perfectly will make very minor improvements to a website’s search ranking.
In the end, meta keywords are basically a waste of time and energy. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Here are a few basic steps to improve user experience to improve a website’s search rankings:
- Focus on improving user experience factors, such as page speed
- Make it easy for users to find related content to improve click through rates
- Develop high quality, engaging content that will drive visitors to your site and keep them clicking on pages
- Include rich snippets or detailed information that help users find specific information
- Improve user experience across all platforms with a responsive website design
It is very likely meta keywords will hang around for some time, but we hope this article will make even a small contribution towards debunking this myth. There are many factors that effect search rankings and many more articles will be posted to provide methods and insights into improving SEO. But for now, we encourage all website owners to focus on improving user experience, which is perhaps the most important place to start in any SEO strategy.