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  • Jo Evans

A Rough Guide to Meta Keywords

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Back in the early days of the internet, search engines weren’t quite as smart as they are today.

The Meta Keywords HTML tag was originally intended to be a small selection of keywords that would help inform a search engine what sort of topic a page was about. For instance, a web page about frogs might include the Meta Keywords “frog, frogs, toads, warts, lilypads, ponds” and would give a search engine a pretty good clue of how to rank a web page. This was hidden in the HTML code, away from the eyes of human visitors but still visible to the search engine robots.

It was a great idea in principle, but there was one major drawback – it was incredibly easy to misrepresent what a page was about, in order to boost search engine rankings for terms the page wouldn’t normally appear for. It was an easy way of generating traffic. It might be untargeted, but it was still generating extra traffic nonetheless.

These days, search engines are a little bit cleverer about how they rank web pages.

Google, for example, said last year that they don’t use Meta Keywords at all to rank pages in their index, and they haven’t done for some time now. Other search engines are likely to feel the same way and just completely ignore the Meta Keywords tag.

So, should you use Meta Keywords or not?

Our advice? Use the Meta Keywords tag – but don’t spend more than a few minutes thinking about what keywords to use. Enter a few relevant keywords and phrases that accurately describe the page and move on to something far more productive. Make sure that the website text contains relevant keywords, check you have relevant subject headers and content. Make sure the content is fresh and regularly updated. Spend time getting links from other websites to you.

True, Google won’t use meta keywords now, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future.

Other less well known search engines might still put some ranking weight behind them too, so it makes sense to still add in a few keywords. Whatever you do, don’t stuff loads of irrelevant keywords in. It won’t help you rank better and you may still get penalised for spamming.

If you need help with SEO then contact us and we’d be happy to ensure your website is attracting as much traffic as possible.

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