Should You Use Meta Keywords?

keywords-smallFirstly,  please understand we are talking about META keywords i.e. those sometimes inserted into a meta tag in the header of a webpage. We are not talking about using keywords in your titles, headers, text, links, URLS, Alt tags or wherever else you use yours!

Keywords and keyword research to understand the right ones to use in our web pages is as important as ever.

This post is aimed at helping clear up some confusion surrounding the use of meta keywords in web page headers.

A page header might look like this in HTML:

<title>Tennis Shoes – Joe’s Tennis World</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Joe’s Tennis World stocks all the top tennis shoe brands, See us now for a bargain!”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”tennis shoes, tennis footwear, sports shoes”>

See the “<meta name=”keywords” content=…” bit?

This month Yahoo disclosed they no longer use the meta keyword info in any meaningful way. In a statement to they clarified they do still index the meta keywords BUT they are given the lowest weight in the ranking factors – so low that any the words in other content, including titles and text will take precedence. Using those same words in the meta Keyword tag matters not a jot!

“Words that appear in any other part of documents, including the body, title, description, anchor text etc., will take priority in ranking the document – the re-occurrence of these words in the meta keyword tag will not help in boosting the signal for these words”

In other words focus on the titles and content, worry not about the META Keyword tag!

Google does not use META Keywords (I believe it never did) and Bing does not either despite what a few of their staff have said here and there, they clarified their position for Search Engine Land too!

So if Google don’t, Bing don’t and Yahoo now don’t either (meaningfully) is there any point in using that section at all?

Not really! Its now something we can consider as completely optional. If it helps you to think about which pages are focused on which keywords, then go right ahead but thats nothing to do with the search engines ranking you in their results pages.