2 minute guide to Meta Keywords

Meta keywords were first popularised by search engines such as AltaVista around 1995 and along with the Meta Description, became the most commonly used Meta element. However, the keyword attribute started to be frequently mis-used, with dishonest webmasters placing false keywords into their meta elements in order to draw people to their site. Search engines stopped supporting the use of Meta Keywords and by the early 2000s, the only major search engine using them was AltaVista, who dropped the use of them in 2002.

Today the keywords meta attribute is said to have little to no influence on ranking. In late 2009, Google announced that they are no longer taking keywords into account whatsoever.  Out of the other major search engines, Bing no longer consider keywords, though Ask and Yahoo still use them to some extent. Yahoo stated in that "While we still index the meta keyword tag, the ranking importance given to meta keyword tags receives the lowest ranking signal in our system.... it will actually have less effect than introducing those same words in the body of the document, or any other section."

To summarise; the Meta Keywords attribute isn't worth using in the traditional way. Any spare time would be better spent improving your copy. However, there is one use for this tag, which is to use it for misspellings and unusual words. There maybe certain misspellings or unusual words that you don't want in your copy, but that may draw people to the site. If you add these words to your Keywords tag, Yahoo and Ask will still pick up on these words and you may just get a few extra visitors!

Although Meta Keywords have dropped off the major search engine's radar, the Meta Description attribute is still very important, so make sure you don't neglect to create a unique description for each page on your website for this element.

Oliver Cundale

SEO Team

02 May 2012

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