Are Meta Keywords Valuable for SEO?

When discussing website optimization and SEO, metadata refers to the coded data that is used by search engines to identify what a piece of content is about. There are many forms of metadata including page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, and meta keywords. Whenever content is published, images are uploaded to a website, or videos are added to a page, there is an opportunity to add metadata. Metadata is very valuable to SEO specialists as it is often used by Google and Bing’s algorithms when choosing where to rank a page. So why do so many SEO specialists disregard meta keywords?

What Are Meta Keywords?

Like most metadata, meta keywords are HTML coded tags on the backend of a website. There are many different meta tags that are invisible to users but are utilized by search engines. For instance, there are meta tags that tell search engines not to display a page on their search engine result pages. Page titles and meta descriptions affect how a listing appears on a search engine result page. Meta keyword tags were created so that website owners could list many keywords that were related to their content. However, the value of keywords has depreciated over time.

Do Meta Keywords Have Value?

Over time Google devalued meta keywords. They no longer have a high impact on the algorithm. This is because this system was easily abused. Page titles and meta descriptions have character limits and generally need to follow sentence structure. Google penalizes “keyword stuffing” in content and in website metadata. That is because keyword stuffing became a black hat SEO tactic. It was too easy for websites to trick search engines by over-optimizing their meta keyword tags. For that reason, it stopped being relevant in Google’s ranking algorithm. Additionally, keyword stuffing can actually be a penalty against a website if keywords are not relevant to the content they are attached to.

How Can You Optimize Your Metadata?

The best way to optimize your metadata is to utilize keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions, and alt text. Best practices including staying within the character limit for these tags and not using keywords that are not present in the frontend content. It is important to make sure your meta description is a grammatically correct sentence and not just a string of keywords. Click here for our guide on writing better page titles and meta descriptions.

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