I often get asked, are meta keywords still relevant in 2021 and how much of an impact do they actually have?
Meta keywords have been a part of the SEO world for years, but are they still relevant in 2021?
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, have evolved over the years to understand more than just words within a meta keyword tag.
In this blog post, we will look at whether meta keywords are still effective in 2021 and whether they should be part of your SEO strategy.
What are meta keywords?
- What are meta keywords?
- Do you still need meta keywords in 2021?
- How do you check the meta keywords on a website?
- Does Google care about meta keywords?
- Should you use meta keywords?
- Need help with your metadata?
Meta keywords are a type of meta tag that appear in the HTML code on your web page. Meta keywords provide search engines with a way to identify the topic of your web page.
The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting or optimising your meta keywords is that each one accurately reflects the content of a page.
Keywords and meta keywords are different in terms of what they mean. When you hear about “keywords”, this tends to refer to keywords on a page and trying to rank for a keyword that a user would search for to find that page. A meta keyword forms part of your metadata that is found within the HTML of a page along with the meta title and description.
Do you still need meta keywords in 2021?
Google began devaluing meta keywords because they were being abused by site owners. Developers would stuff the code full of high-volume search terms, so low-quality pages could rank for those phrases.
As you can see in the example above, this is how you could previously stuff meta keywords into the HTML of your website.
Google’s algorithm is now far more advanced than it once was. Whilst previously you would be able to get away with this kind of keyword manipulation technique, there are a lot more ranking signals that determine the overall quality and relevance of your page.
How impactful are meta keywords for SEO?
In terms of the weight meta keywords carry on their own when it comes to search engine optimisation, they definitely are not what they once were.
However, it still remains good practice to name your meta keyword using something that will accurately describe the page you are trying to rank.
Like most ranking factors, they are nothing without the sum of all of their parts. You need to ensure you consider everything when it comes to on-page SEO including your metadata as well as your content and everything else that goes into telling Google what it is your page is offering.
How do you check the meta keywords on a website?
In order to find out whether a given page is using meta tags, just right-click anywhere on that same webpage and select “View Page Source.”
This will reveal the HTML within the page and inside the “<head>” section is where you will find the metadata. It should look something like this:
Does Google care about meta keywords?
Google ignores meta keywords pretty much as its algorithm is far more advanced compared to what it once was when developers would spam using related keywords to rank a page.
According to Google Developers, meta keywords are something that is not regarded when it comes to web search.
Keyword meta tags are an area that people could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those words. Because of this, many years ago Google began disregarding the keyword metatags and only considers relevance in ranking pages today.
Instead, focus your efforts on your actual page content and important meta tags like your titles, descriptions and page titles. Your on-page is still definitely something that Google uses to establish what a page is offering.
Does Google disregard all metadata?
Google has a number of other meta tags it uses. For example, description is sometimes used as the text for search results snippets on certain keywords to provide more information about what they are describing.
Your meta description and meta title still play a significant part in telling Google what it is your page is built around. Over or under optimisation of this area of your metadata can have an impact on rankings and still today, small changes can lead to movements in rankings.
Should you use meta keywords?
If you are relying on meta keywords and trying to engineer them to improve rankings, then you need to rethink your strategy altogether. The meta keywords tag was developed in 1995 for very old-fashioned search engines and holds no value in terms of moving the needle.
You need to have a much more holistic approach when it comes to your SEO. The concept that you can stuff meta keywords with phrases you wish to rank for is an outdated strategy. Its good practice to include the main keyword you are building your page around but ultimately, it is not going to make much difference what you use.
It’s believed that most search engines stopped using meta keywords in 2009, but Google categorically said they were no longer providing it as an indexing method and are not a ranking factor.
Need help with your metadata?
To summarise, not all meta tags are redundant and you should definitely look to optimise your meta title and meta descriptions in a way that accurately describes the page you are trying to rank.
However, meta keywords are something of an outdated concept when it comes to SEO and is not something you need to really consider as part of your SEO strategy.
There are a lot of other things you can be doing to actively improve your organic rankings like optimising content, building useful internal links and generally creating a good user experience for your website users.
If you need any additional support, then feel free to get in touch and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.