In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “what are meta keywords?”
But we’ll also go beyond the definition of what is a meta keyword by explaining are meta tags important for SEO, rankings, and traffic.
By the end of this post, you’ll know how important this meta tag is for your website as well as get a clear answer on how many meta keywords should I use on each web page.
What Are Meta Keywords?
Meta keywords are a type of meta tag that appears in the HTML code of a web page. The purpose of meta keywords is to give search engine crawlers more information about a page’s content by labeling what topics are covered on the page.
What Is a Meta Keyword Example?
A meta keyword example is <meta name= “keywords” content= “search engine optimization”>. The meta keywords tag in the HTML code for this example tells search engines that this web page is about the topic of search engine optimization.
Are Meta Keywords Important for SEO?
Meta keywords are important for SEO for some search engines because the ranking algorithm uses the meta keywords tag to identify the core topics for the web page. However, most of the major search engines do not use meta keywords for SEO ranking purposes.
How Many Meta Keywords Should I Use?
You should use no more than 10 meta keywords per page. Each search engine sets its own character length for the meta keywords tag and sticking to this limit will make sure that you do not use too many keywords in this HTML element.
Does Google Still Use Meta Keywords?
Google does not use meta keywords and they do not have any effect in its search ranking algorithm at present. In 2009, Google stopped using the meta keywords tag in web ranking because it quickly became an area where someone could stuff irrelevant keywords without visitors ever seeing those keywords.
Google reported that “Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.”
If you want to learn more about the inner workings of search engine algorithms, then check out my guide on how SEO works in websites. The concepts apply for every content management system, including WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, Wix, etc.
Does Bing Use Meta Keywords?
Bing does not use meta keywords which means they exclude them and ignore this HTML meta tag for ranking purposes. In 2014, Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager, announced that Bing stopped using meta keywords on the Microsoft Bing Blogs.
Forrester wrote, “Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.”
In a 2011 interview with Danny Sullivan for Search Engine Land, Forrester confirmed that Bing may look at the meta keywords tag as a spam signal, not a ranking signal. “The main thing people need to keep in mind if they decide to use the tag is to follow the known best practices. Ultimately, it’s the overt keyword stuffing that gets noticed and makes us want to look a little closer. If you’re willing to stuff pointless keywords into the meta keywords tag, what else might you be inclined to do?” said Forrester.
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Which Search Engines Use Meta Keywords?
Amazon, Yandex, and possibly Baidu and DuckDuckGo use meta keywords as a ranking factor. Each of these search engines values the meta keywords tag independently with other on-page optimization elements.
If you look at the HTML source code on an Amazon web page, you sometimes see the meta keywords tag in use.
However, these meta keywords are most likely being used for Amazon’s internal search engine and not for ranking on Google or Bing because those algorithms do not use meta keywords as a ranking factor.
Yandex has a support page that lists all of the meta tags that Yandex takes into account for web rankings.
Next to the meta keywords tag, it states: “Can be used when determining the page’s relevance to search queries.”
Baidu doesn’t have any official documentation stating if the Chinese search engine uses meta keywords or not. However, the author of a blog post on the topic at Jinray China SEO Diary indicated: “Baidu’s engineer LEE, who is in charge of answering questions publicly about SEO, made it clear in August 2012 that meta keywords tag had become a history for Baidu, and Baidu totally ignores it.”
DuckDuckGo does not have any information in its search engine about the use of meta keywords. So we can’t say for sure if this search engine does or does not use the meta keywords tag for SEO purposes.
Do I Need Meta Keywords?
You do not need meta keywords. The meta keywords tag is not used by Google or Bing for indexing or ranking content. Meta keywords are dead for the major search engines so do not use them for SEO purposes.
If you want to still use meta keywords to improve your rankings for other search engines, then make sure to follow the best practices mentioned in the next section.
If you have a blog and want to optimize your content in the most efficient way, then I encourage you to read my post about what is SEO in blogging here.
How Do I Write Meta Keywords for SEO?
- Keep your list of meta keywords to 10 keywords or less.
- Separate each keyword phrases using a comma.
- Do not repeat the same keyword phrases.
- Place your most important keywords at the beginning of the meta keywords tag.
- Include misspellings if they are common for your keyword phrases to indicate to search engines that your page is relevant to the misspelled) search queries.
- Include keyword variations as well as singular and plural versions of your target keywords.
Meta Keywords In SEO Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide on what are meta keywords in SEO.
As you discovered, the basic answer for what is a meta keyword is a set of phrases you add to the HTML code to indicate to search engines what topics a web page is covering in the content.
But when it comes to the question of are meta tags important for SEO, the answer really depends on which search engine you’re targeting. Most of the major search engines like Google and Bing do not use meta keywords for SEO anymore, but Amazon, Yandex, and possibly Baidu and DuckDuckGo do support this meta tag field.
Therefore, it’s up to you if you want to optimize the meta keywords tag or not. However, don’t expect a major increase in rankings or traffic from putting your target keyword phrases in this field because it doesn’t hold much SEO value.