Meta keywords have been around for a while. For a long time, they were an SEO best practice used to help websites rank high in the SERPs. But are they still relevant in today’s digital landscape?
In this blog, we’ll talk about whether or not they are important for your SEO strategy in 2020. Let’s get started!
Meta keywords are a type of HTML <meta> tag that communicates to search engine crawlers what a web page is about. It was initially designed in 1995 and was used heavily by old search engines as a ranking factor.
Unlike normal keywords, these are not displayed prominently on web pages. Instead, you can find them in source codes and are written like this:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”seo, search engine optimization, search engine optimization, search engine ranking”>
The basic idea surrounding meta keywords was simple. Webmasters would populate the meta keywords tag with the keywords they wanted to rank for. It also told search engines which keywords were most relevant to the content of a given web page.
In the early 1990s and early 2000s, meta keywords were used responsibly by webmasters. However, with competition for page ranking getting stiffer and stiffer, the SEO industry began to abuse and misuse the meta keyword tag.
Black Hat SEO practices such as keyword stuffing started becoming the norm to dominate the search engine ranking pages (SERPs).
SEOs would load the meta keyword field with keyword phrases that were only roughly relevant to a page’s content. Some would use up to 50 of these keyword phrases just to increase their chances of ranking high in the SERPs.
Furthermore, some SEO practitioners would also use completely irrelevant but high-volume keywords to pad organic traffic statistics.
This was usually done by SEOs to take advantage of any lapses in search engine algorithms. Others argued that this was simply a way to take full advantage of the opportunity to cover as many legitimate keywords as possible.
This misuse and overuse led to the tag’s inability to provide meaningful ranking data and in 2009, Google announced that it would no longer be using the keyword meta tag in its web search ranking.
Other search engines have also refined their search engine algorithms well enough to the point where the keyword tag is no longer needed. They could interpret what a web page is about without relying on these HTML tags which means their search results were far more relevant to its users.
Furthermore, search engines use other factors to accurately determine page rank.
To put it simply, using meta keywords to improve your search website’s search ranking is no longer as important as it once was.
Search engines simply don’t rely on them anymore. Google and Yahoo ignore them and instead uses other factors to determine search ranking. Meanwhile, Bing only ever uses meta keywords as a spam signal. If your specific meta keywords don’t appear in your document then your site will be penalized.
There are, however, still uses for meta keywords that are not related to SEO. For starters, they may be useful if your CMS uses meta keywords for internal search. A search engine integrated into your website can access saved keywords whenever a search query is made. Furthermore, the saved keywords can also be stored in the backend.
Unlike meta keywords, other kinds of meta tags are useful determining page rank in major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and even Bing. Here are four meta tags you should focus on for better SEO:
The title tag is one of the most important SEO elements because it not only gives search engines a big clue as to what a page is about but it also appears on the first line of search snippets, in the tab title in browsers, and is used as the title of a post whenever a page is shared on social media. Furthermore, all browsers support the Title element.
Title tags appear this way in your code:
Some useful tips for writing title tags include:
A meta description summarizes your web page and is usually shown below the title tag. It appears like this in your code:
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description sample. It gives a summary of a webpage.”>
A compelling meta description encourages users to click on a search snippet which helps increase click-through rates. Furthermore, search engines tend to highlight search terms appearing in the meta description tag making it more relevant to users and leading to more clicks. While it is an indirect SEO factor and Google is not using it as a ranking signal, it is quickly gaining importance over the last few years.
Here are some tips for writing excellent meta descriptions for your pages:
Robots meta tags instruct search engines on how the particular page should be treated when it comes to search. They are an integral part of technical SEO where pages are optimized for the crawling phase.
They are important for SEO because if they are misconfigured, web pages might not be indexed by search engines which can lead to no rankings or traffic. It has four main values including:
Alt text tags are important especially if your webpages are image-heavy. Search engines cannot read images since they are text-reliant. Adding proper alt text to images lets search engines know that these images are relevant to your main keyword.
Furthermore, it helps improve the accessibility of your website and it can help search engines understand what is going on in your images.
When using images and alt text for them, be sure to remember these guidelines:
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