SEO Meta Keywords: Why You Shouldn’t Use Them in 2024 (& Beyond)

Despite being one of the most outdated SEO tactics, people still ask about meta keywords, and whether or not they're still "worth doing, just in case". The short answer is no, but read on to learn why they are no longer necessary.
Tommy Griffth
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Jun 29, 2023
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3 min. read
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Despite being one of the most outdated SEO tactics, people still ask about meta keywords. Learn why they are no longer necessary.

Today you’re gonna learn about the worst thing to happen to the internet, the meta-keywords tag.

This tag sucks.

We will talk about what are SEO meta keywords tags, how marketers overexploited them, why it is terrible, and why you should avoid them.

At this point, I’m supposed to tell you to read through the whole post cause you’re going to learn some secret at the end.

It’s not true, the general rule is to avoid the use of SEO meta keywords tags, but if you want to learn more about why you shouldn’t use them and what you should use for your search engine marketing efforts to succeed instead, read on and find out more.

So, let’s get going.

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 about what this is.

Bottom line: You should not be using this tag. Meta-keywords are dead. Do not use them!

Developers designed the keywords meta-tag 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 SEO meta keywords with the keywords they wanted to rank for.

Surprise, surprise: every single site owner in the world spammed this as hard as they could to get a higher search engine ranking. Myself included in 1999.

Marketers just weren’t doing keyword research, just adding irrelevant keywords that weren’t necessary and turned it all into 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 as an SEO metric.

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 of the page’s content. 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 for indexing and they are not a ranking factor. Google website crawlers now look for comprehensive content that is relevant to searchers’ search queries on Google search.

They probably weren’t using it very much at all in 2000, or 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. You should too regardless of how you edit your metadata (from the source code or by using any kind of tool) avoid keywords meta tags.

To maximize click-through rates on search engines, you can instead focus on long-tail keyword research, use the target keywords wisely, and use title meta keywords tags and meta descriptions. You should focus on creating relevant and unique content to improve user experience and get more conversions on your website.

Meta tags have no direct SEO value for your website. However, if you still want to take a look at what meta tags look like, let’s say we were optimizing an emoji site. Trying to rank for different terms like “blue emojis”, “red emojis”, “smiley emojis”, and “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 tag keywords. Use this SEO checklist instead and follow the current SEO best practices.

In Conclusions

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.


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