Meta Keywords Tag for SEO

Stop Using the Meta Keywords Tag for SEO

Adam Koontz

Last updated: February 17, 2019

Note: This article pertains specifically to using the meta keywords tag for SEO. Other meta tags are still highly relevant and recommended for SEO.

If you’re an SEO expert, this post probably isn’t for you. You may already know that major search engines stopped using the meta keywords tag over a decade ago. This post is for the marketing directors, managers, coordinators, and generalists that still think they should include the meta keywords tag within their pages. To see what I’m talking about, look for this in the HTML source for one of your web pages :

<meta name=”keywords” content=”meta keywords, meta tag, meta tags, meta keywords tag, seo”>

This tag would appear between the <head></head> tags within your pages’ HTML code. To this day, I still have people ask if we can “just add some meta keyword tags” to SEO their pages. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple these days.

Putting aside the fact that this drastically oversimplifies the process of SEO, this simply doesn’t do anything to help your site rank. Here’s the reality: Google stopped using this tag a long time ago because too many site owners were abusing it. Other search engines have since followed suit. Matt Cutts of Google has flat out said that they don’t use the tag. Back in the earlier days of search, the game was played much differently. A site’s ability to rank in search engines was more about the number of times the focus keyword appeared on the page. Once people discovered how this worked, it was abused. Website owners would stuff their pages full of keywords and they would also stuff their keywords tag full of those keywords. For the most part, the pages with the most keywords won. SEO was comparably much more simple in those days, but the search results were far less useful.

Google and other major search engines quickly realized that this was no way to determine the most relevant content. Their search engine results pages (SERPs) were cluttered with those that knew how to best play the game of SEO. So they stopped using the tag and their algorithms got much more complex.

What About Yahoo and Bing?

Bing has proclaimed the meta keywords tag as dead in terms of SEO value. This was stated in 2014, but was probably removed as a ranking factor long before.

Yahoo also announced they dropped the keywords tag back in 2009, around the same time as Google.

There are really no major players left using this tag.

Here’s the bottom line on meta keywords for SEO

Major search engines don’t use the meta keywords tag for SEO, so adding them is a waste of time and resources. Furthermore, using the tag gives your competitors a spoon-fed list of keywords that you’re targeting, making it easier for them to compete with you.

STOP using the meta keywords tag for SEO right away!

Adam Koontz

Adam is President of SEMbyotic, a digital marketing, web design, and SEO company based in San Jose, California.   @adamkoontz