SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

Summary: Have you ever heard anyone tell you not to use the meta keywords tag anymore? Well, here are 10 reasons you may actually want to!

TOPICS: Browser

UPDATE: After receiving numerous comments from people interested in crucifying me for this post, I'd like to make it clear that everything below is in reference to your Web site ranking on the Internet; not on an Intranet. If you're constructing an internal site, by all means, use the meta keywords tag since it is utilized by many intranet platforms/engines. But as far as ranking on the Internet goes, it's useless.

Back in the butter days of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the meta keywords tag was a sure-fire way to ranking success. All you had to do was stuff that bad boy full of your keywords (even using the same ones multiple times for added effect) and you were GOLDEN! But now in 2010-going-on-2011, those days are long-gone. These days, the meta keywords tag is totally and utterly useless to your Web site... or is it? Here are 10 reasons you may want to actually consider using the meta keywords tag for your Web pages:

1 - You truly believe it's going to help you rank even though every industry pro tells you otherwise. You've got something to prove and by golly, you're going to prove it!

2 - You want to waste your time. No, seriously... You really do want to just completely and utterly waste. your. time.

3 - You want to give your competition your BEST and most researched keywords on a silver platter!

4 - Facebook and Twitter are both down at the moment.

5 - Because this guy told you to. After all, he did invent the Internet, right?

6 - You hacked Google and uploaded an undetectable virus that completely switches their page rank algorithm with a "meta keywords" algorithm. You're golden here, because you're the only one who would actually be using the meta keywords tag these days! SELF HIGH-FIVE!

7 - You want to populate your <HEAD></HEAD> section with every possible meta tag known to man.

8 - Because you're a TRUE SEO guru who practices what they preach!

9 - You've figured out how to travel back in time, yet somehow keep your Web site intact and on the Internet when you get there. (On a serious note, if anyone actually figures out how to do this, please shoot me an email.).

10 - Because you can, dang it! And not Google or Bing or anyone else can take that away from you! HA!

Key Takeaway: Please don't use the meta keywords tag. There really are no good reasons to where ranking is concerned. That is all.

Topic: Browser

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

    I understand why you employ this writing style often, but really, is it the best method? It's incongruent with the majority of the writing on zdnet and related sites, not to mention absolutely annoying to read. It's like reading the words that a 16-year-old girl is saying. Not fun.

    All you've said above is "don't use the keywords meta tag." Great. Good advice, and I'm following it. Why not write a serious article? Focus on do's, don'ts, etc. Include "don't use the keywords tags" in other articles, as an anecdotal point? There are better writing styles that can yield more attention.
    • This

      @cunninghamd is 100% right. it's condescending and sarcastic. These things have their place, but a professional column isn't one of them.

      That said, does it HURT anything by keeping metatags around?

      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @voyager529 No, it doesn't hurt anything by keeping the meta keywords tag around if you already have pages populated with them. Having said that, if you're in a competitive niche and you've done a lot of keyword research, you probably don't want to include the results of all of that research in your meta keywords tag. If I want to compete with you, all I have to do is view your source code, nab all of those keywords, do some quick validation of their relevance/traffic/etc. and I'm all set to go head-to-head with you.

    • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

      @cunninghamd@... I'm sorry to see this particular style of my writing offends you so much, but contrary to what you've said, I actually do not employ this style of writing very often at all. If you would like to read a "serious" article of mine, there are plenty of articles throughout my blog that are guaranteed to get the job done.<br><br>Have you actually taken a look back?<br><br>And for what it's worth, in points 1-3, I gave the primary reasons why you shouldn't utilize the meta keywords tag; not just *that* you shouldn't, as I concluded.<br><br>-Stephen
      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @StephenChapman I think it's funny when you do it... Because it offends people like him :P
      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @StephenChapman Fair enough. You used this style in 2-3 out of 47 articles published. It's still 4-6% of the time.

        As for taken a look back, clearly I just did, and I've been following all along. The stats don't lie, and you're right, but I find obnoxious when you do it. :)
      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @StephenChapman: Cunninghamd hasn't been exposed to enough Jonathan Swift.
        Nice piece Mr. Chapman. I found it brilliant. Knowledge is power and satire is always in fashion. I was in stitches at "You?ve got something to prove and by golly, you?re going to prove it!" Funny and informative. Hard to understand if you're angry all the time.
        Dan aka WatcherOfTheSKy
  • One reason to use keyword tag

    Some (FreeFind, for example) intra-website search engines use the keyword tag.
    It costs you nothing (well, 1 minute per page) to add keywords.
    • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

      @davebarnes Thanks for your suggestion!
  • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

    Continuing to add keywords in the meta takes mere seconds per article, so it's hardly a HUGE and sensational waste of time is it? A web document is complete and comprehensive if it's fully furnished with meta keywords and is handy for internal reference. What if the document is inspected by a non-SEO, what if the content is ported to an intranet? Those keywords could prove to be very handy.

    What if keywords ever make a comeback? Google News XML sitemaps use keywords. Are we being absolutist and saying they will never be used or seen again, anywhere, ever? Forget travelling back in time, I can see some extremely talented people have the power to know the future before its even been written.

    Your competitors will only know your keywords by looking at the keywords meta? Really? Nothing to worry about there then. Oh wait, they're "BEST and most researched keywords"? The keywords will primarily be RELEVANT. If you're at a news desk banging out stories, you have to publish headline news not the researched keywords - We're writing and publishing for people first and comprehensive markup comes afterwards. Writing to an SEO strategy is one thing but often we have to publish what we're given, whether it's got competitive keywords in the title and meta or not.

    So it's probably healthier to maintain even the tiniest modicum of skepticism and not to be 100% dismissive of meta keywords, despite what Matt Cutts and the legion of SEO parrots have said.
    • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!


      First of all, the one thing most people seem to have missed here is in my conclusion where I said using the meta keywords tag wouldn't help you *where ranking is concerned.* I put that there for a reason, but with the responses I've received thus far, perhaps I should go back and establish more discernment than that where ranking vs. other uses are concerned.

      I personally recommend that people keep track of their keywords off-site. You may *personally* choose to populate your meta keywords tag for completeness, but that has nothing to do with SEO. As for intranet uses, now you're getting away from SEO as I'm trying to cover here; i.e. ranking in Google -- what everyone cares about.

      As for if meta keywords are ever leveraged again, it will be discovered and noted. Guess what you can do *then* if you're not using them now? That's right -- you can start using them. Novel concept, huh? Personally, I'd rather NOT use the section now than use it with optimism in mind. I can always go back and populate it if I choose to later.

      Yes, you can use the section for internal reasons or whatever else, but -- as someone who has done plenty of SEO for people -- I've seen a good number of folks who put their cream-of-the-crop researched keywords relevant to their *whole* site on every single page of their Web site. Forget using a program to scan a competitor's site to find keywords -- there they are for your consumption.

      Re: Google News XML sitemaps: I'm talking about the meta keywords tag in this post, not alternate places to populate keywords.

      As for news stories, what does all of that have to do with meta keywords? If you're publishing to a news syndication and you're hoping to rank in Google, then meta keywords are a completely moot point. If you're trying to say that you can research competition and find keywords from more than just the meta keywords tag, then you're absolutely right. But I was simply addressing the meta keywords tag here in this post.

      You said: "'s probably healthier to maintain even the tiniest modicum of skepticism and not be 100% dismissive of meta keywords..."

      Really? Have fun with that, because it doesn't do anyone a BIT of good to be like that with meta keywords where ranking in Google is concerned. They do *nothing* for you now and if they do later, then we'll all start using them again. Simple.

      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @StephenChapman<br><br>Thanks for the response, Stephen, and happy new year.<br><br>It appears that you seem to think that you were being victimised or picked on - that was not the case. I'm sorry if you took it that way, absolutely no offense meant.<br><br>Just to clarify a few points:<br><br>1. I *know* the last paragraph mentioned ranking, the point did not go amiss.<br><br>2. Your piece was about 10 flippant reasons not to use meta keywords tag? I merely offered a measured response as to alternative thought processes regarding keywords: These thoughts are not null and void simply because you play your ranking "trump card".<br><br>3. My Google Sitemaps XML was just a comment that keywords are useful in places other than the meta: excuse me for thinking laterally.<br><br>4. I still have absolutely no fear of people discovering my keywords, no matter where they may appear.<br><br>5. News stories: The keywords, if anyone bothers to use them in their meta for internal purposes not ranking, derive from the story at hand and may not always fit into the overall keyword strategy nor will the publisher/editor always have time to optimise a news article especially since they are in the hard, fast world of news. So placing news stories' keywords "on a silver platter" doesn't always help those who can only derive keywords and strategy from the keywords meta; Nice curveball for the newcomers.<br><br>6. That tiniest modicum of skepticism I retain? Yes, really and, you know what? I *am* having fun with that, especially from the point of view that any dismissive attitude of said stance that fails to take onboard even the remotest possibility indicates a level of absolutism that I don't think is appropriate to the subject: You should know, with your wealth of experience, Stephen, that SEO has so many grey areas and *if* keywords *ever* came back into play somehow I'd already have an advantage, you'd be playing catchup. Who'd be wasting their time then, aye?<br><br>7. I hate having to repeat myself but yes, I *know* the keyword meta has nothing to do with ranking in Google, I remember the rumblings from as far back as 2001, don't you?<br><br>Now you have an awesome 2011, Stephen, I sincerely wish you every success <img border="0" src="" alt="happy"><br><br>Cheers<br><br>Paul
      • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

        @PaulMackenzieRoss Your style of writing is very abrasive; my mistake for misunderstanding your intentions.

        1 - :)

        2 - Thank you for your alternative thoughts, Paul. They weren't null-and-void, but they spoke to usability/reference; not ranking/SEO. I simply wanted to keep that line distinguished for the readers while still offering *my* alternative thought processes to yours.

        3 - Think laterally all you want! Again, I just wanted to keep a clear discernment between your lateral wandering and the specific point of my post: The meta keywords tag.

        4 - Excellent!

        5 - True. Using the meta keywords tag as competition analysis in the "hard, fast world of news" isn't exactly the most optimal thing to do. I think this is why I was confused by your initial mention of this -- I completely agree with this point of yours.

        6 - Here again, you keep referencing "keywords" and not "meta keywords." Do you mean "meta keywords?" Either way, you're speculating/projecting. How about you keep doing things the way you do and I'll keep on doing things the way I do. My modicum of skepticism exists with plenty of other SEO factors, but not with the meta keywords tag.

        7 - I didn't doubt you knowing this; you just jump between mention of "keywords" and "meta keywords" such that I can't gauge exactly what you mean at times.

        You have a wonderful 2011 as well, Paul. :)

    • RE: 10 reasons to use meta tag

      I agree with Paul. We use the meta tag as an organizational tool for each page, so the client knows the keyword we're targeting. Are we worried about competitors taking their keywords? No. If their competitors know how to find their keywords in the meta tag, then they know how to research keywords on their own too.
  • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

    > These days, the meta keywords tag is totally<br>> and utterly useless to your Web site<br><br>Not all all. It is silly to give unqualified advice.<br><br>As davebarnes pointed out, above many intrasite engines like Freefind, Zoom Search, the Google Search Appliance, etc.. will all make use of metatags.<br><br>Maybe the advice is correct for ranking in Google's main search, but to then jump to the conclusion that keywords are never of any use doesn't make sense and shows a lack of research.<br><br>It also rather hypocritical to write an article like this when you have more than a dozen meta keywords on this page. Here is your source code,<br><br><br>meta name="keywords" content="Stephen Chapman, SEO Whistleblower, Search Engine Optimization,Keyword,Search,Marketing Research,Marketing,Stephen Chapman"

    Bing also seems to use them,
    "...use your keywords in the following areas for the greatest impact:... Meta tags (specifically when used with the name="description" and the name="keyword" parameters)"
    • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!


      "It is silly to give unqualified advice."

      That made me laugh. Follow along...

      You hit the nail on the head with this:

      "Maybe the advice is correct for ranking in Google's main search..."

      BINGO. I'll update this article to reflect the intranet topic since you're the 3rd or 4th person to bring it up. Nothing wrong there; I was just purely speaking in terms of ranking on the Internet.

      "...but to then jump to the conclusion that keywords are never of any use doesn't make sense and shows a lack of research."

      What? Where did I say KEYWORDS in and of themselves are of no use? Keywords are a cornerstone of SEO. The meta keywords tag, however, is useless. Reference point 1 in my article above. It sounds like you have something to prove.

      "It also rather hypocritical to write an article like this when you have more than a dozen meta keywords on this page."

      ZDNet auto-populates them on its own; I don't. I'm not CBSi's SEO guy.

      "Bing also seems to use them..."

      Thanks for the year-and-a-half old blog post reference, but of tests I've performed and results from tests I've seen others perform, the meta keywords tag isn't used by Bing to rank. If it is, it's so minuscule that I dare say it's still not even worth your time to populate.

      I'm sorry, but out of all the snide remarks I've received, I've yet to see a good reason why one should use the meta keywords tag *where ranking is concerned.* I thought my article was pretty clear that I was speaking to using the meta keywords tag for ranking on the only Internet search engines anyone truly cares about right now -- not on intranets or whatever else.

  • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

    "It sounds like you have something to prove.."<br><br>Indeed!<br>You should take more care to qualify your advice. If you are just talking about ranking on the internet in Google's main search results, then you should state this.<br><br>If you have done tests on all the other main internet search engines, and found that meta keywords only provide minuscule benefit then you should state this.<br><br>"Thanks for the year-and-a-half old blog post reference.."<br><br>The post was from Rick DeJarnette, former Bing Webmaster. He was in a position to know what Bing does and his advice hasn't changed since he wrote the post as far as I know. If you have a more authoritative or current source of information, then by all means provide a link. His advice might no longer be correct, but it requires more proof than you provided in your blog above to prove your point.
    • RE: SEO Shocker: 10 Reasons to Use the Meta Keywords Tag!

      @MeatyByte<br><br>Honestly, I qualified my content quite well. I did state exactly what I was talking about numerous times. Please read it again and tell me where I failed to leave anything out. Not word 1 was stated about Intranet because the post was tuned to ranking online; not sorting data internally.<br><br>I've done tests and plenty of others have done tests. Can I not create a snarky, comical, to-the-point post like this to get a simple point across? I can't please everyone, so I'm sorry you had to be the one who feels the way you do.<br><br>As per the Bing post, I'm quite clear on who it was and where they stood. The burden of proof isn't on me here; not yet. Perhaps I will do a post related to it one day, but it's honestly not worth my time just to prove it to *you*. All I would prove is what everyone in the industry already knows: using the meta keywords tag does NOTHING for you.<br><br>If you would like to test, I encourage you to. It's simple: Create a blank HTML file and populate it ONLY with a meta keywords tag. Put a keyword in there that yields no results elsewhere -- something like "aiweuhfaoiu" or whatever. Then, link to that page via Twitter, a blog post, whatever you can and keep searching Bing for that string. Let's see if your page *ever* gets indexed for that keyword based on ONLY the meta keywords tag.<br><br>Go for it. It's not worth my time to do it, because I'm in this industry and I realize what *doesn't* work. I may not know everything that works (I'm *always* learning) but when you learn what *doesn't* work, you make sure to keep productivity where it should be by never implementing such things. And if you can prove me wrong here, I will gladly bow to your mastery. ;) <br><br>-Stephen
  • eprnxiy 06 yav

    touoxg,jfexoqcw02, pepfj.
  • Meta keywords

    This discussion keeps coming up with pro webdesigners.
    I honestly don't believe in meta keywords because i rather let google find my long tail ones.
    + I try to variate my keywords with synonyms. Only webmasters know how to use google efficient. This got me ranked page 1 allot faster then i used to use meta keywords.
    I love your post by the way i've been researching this discussion for months now but this one made me laugh.