Meta keywords now useless. Keywords only in web content.
Meta keywords element is a tag added into the header of a web page along with “meta title” and “meta description.” It dates back to 1995 when people were still searching the web using keywords, and search engines like AltaVista and Infoseek would display web pages that matched user’s keywords and web page’s “meta keywords.”
Meta keywords tag looked something like this.
<meta name=”keywords” content=”seo, search engine optimisation, search engine optimization, search engine ranking”>
This meta keywords element (like all meta elements) is invisible to visitors but visible to search engines. The keywords you put into this element’s content attribute would then be used as a ranking factor by the search engines.
If this sounds like you’re asking Google directly to just rank you for whatever keyword you want: that’s what it was. If you think “that’s too easy”: you’re right, it turned out to be. Of course, as the web became more commercial, people started spamming this keywords element and search engines began ignoring it.
It’s important to note that the meta keywords tag has nothing to do with the “focus keyword” in Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress websites. The focus keyword is a feature of Yoast SEO that is used to determine whether you’ve optimized your page well for the keyword you want to rank for. It’s not a signal that we give to search engines in and off itself.
The death of the meta keywords element or tag
Here’s the full history of the meta keywords tag’s death. Already in September 2009, Google announced officially what was true for years back then: “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking”. Matt Cutts explained it in a video:
IMARK SEO is no longer using meta keywords element following the update of Yoast SEO 6.3 that completely removed it in the features.
Do Yahoo! and Bing use meta keywords element?
In October of that same year, 2009, at SMX East, Yahoo! announced they no longer use the meta keywords tag anymore either. This turned out to be not entirely true, as they do index them, but they won’t help you one bit.
Bing also stated in 2014:
Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.
Earlier, they even implied that using them – the wrong way – could work against you, because it’s rather seen as a spam signal than a ranking signal.
So don’t waste your time on the meta keywords tag. Instead of thinking about which keywords to put in that silly tag for 5 minutes, think about your content for 5 minutes longer. Really. It’s worth it. Or spend your time doing actual keyword research, because while the meta keywords tag is dead, keywords in the web content in your web page are still very much alive.