The meta-keywords tag sucks
If you’re looking for more information on the meta-keywords tag, you might be new to digital marketing, you might be new to Search Engine Optimization, or you may just want to clarify some of the misconceptions out there on what this is.
Bottom line: You should not be using this tag. Meta-keywords are dead. Do not use them.
The keywords meta tag was really designed in 1995 for very archaic old search engines and some could argue that the rise of Google was actually because of older search engines relying too much on this tag.
Back then, the basic idea was that webmasters were designing page content and they were indicating to search engines what that page was about by populating the meta-keywords tag with the keywords they wanted to rank for.
Surprise, surprise: every single site owner in the world spammed this as hard as they could. Myself included in 1999.
People just weren’t using relevant keywords, just adding irrelevant keywords that weren’t necessary and turned it all in a land grab for traffic fueled by keyword stuffing.
Google was what about the 11th or 13th search engine.
It wasn’t the first search engine, but it was the one that fully realized meta-keywords were a huge problem.
Basically, they started saying: “let’s stop relying on webmasters for this type of data. Let’s stop trusting webmasters and let’s look at a more comprehensive picture to try and rank documents. So let’s look at all the elements on the page. Let’s look at all the links pointing back to that web page.”
Meta-keywords were used by search engines from 1995 to 2009. It’s rumored that most search engines really stopped using this well before 2009, but 2009 was the year that Google categorically said they were no longer using them as a ranking factor.
They probably weren’t using it very much at all in 2000, 2001, but they were still overused by webmasters.
Meta-keywords were too easy to spam with and almost all major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) have discontinued support for this meta-tag -they don’t consider it a ranking signal anymore so it doesn’t influence their SERPs anymore. Even SEO tools like Yoast have discontinued their usage – and you should too regardless of how you edit your metadata (from the source code or by using any kind of tool).
If you want to take a look at what it looks like, let’s say we were optimizing an emoji site. Trying to rank for different terms like “blue emojis”, “red emojis”, “smiley emojis”, “sad emojis” would look something like the image below (and this would be used in the head of your document):
Long story short, don’t use the meta keyword tag. Use this SEO checklist instead.
Even More Resources
If you’re JUST getting started with digital marketing, take a look at the digital marketing strategy guide and the seo strategy guide for a high-level overview of how they all work.