When it comes search engine optimisation, you always want to ensure that your website and its pages are optimised to the highest standard they can be and that includes optimising your content and page for keywords too. If you're familiar with SEO, then you might be aware of something called the meta-keywords tag, which in recent years has been at the forefront of a lot of discussions when it comes to Google and SEO, as to whether Google takes notice of meta-keyword tags or not. So, in this article, we're asking whether meta keywords are still important for SEO or not.
What is the Meta-Keyword Tag?
The meta keyword tag is a type of meta tag that is added to the HTML code of your webpage which intends to tell search engines such as Google, what the subject and topic matter of the page you've created is. For instance, if you created a website which is about gardening, your meta keyword tag might look something like this:
<meta_name="keywords" content="gardening, gardening tips, garden cuttings, growing garden cuttings, gardening tools"/>
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags refer to tags included in the HTML of a page which helps describe the page and its contents to search engines, improving search engine crawlers to get a better understanding of the page. You can inspect the meta tags of the page by visiting a webpage on your internet browser and pressing ‘Ctrl + U' to examine the page.
The types of meta tags you are likely to find on the page are:
<title>Page Title would go here</title>
The title tag of your page provides a title to help search engines and users using search engines what the title and subject of the page are. For best practice when optimising your content, you should ensure that seed or target keyword is as close to the front of the title as is possible.
Meta description tag
<meta name="description" content="Description of the page will go here">
The meta description tag provides search engines and users browsing the SERP with a description of what your page contains. Although meta descriptions aren't directly a ranking factor for Google, they are an indirect factor, therefore, which is why they are important for SEO.
In order to ensure that your meta description is optimised to ensure that users click on your result over other your competitors, ensure that you meta description is no more than 155 characters in length and provide an accurate description of your page otherwise Google will choose a piece of your text that it feels to be more relevant if your meta description isn't good enough.
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow">
While the robots.txt file on your site will give search engine crawlers instructions on how your website and it's pages are indexed in search engines, the meta robots tag are pieces of code in the HTML of a page which tells search engine crawlers how to crawl and index a specific page's content.
The robots meta tag can tell crawlers to either:
"noindex"- meaning that you do not want to page indexed.
"index"- indicating that you want the page indexed.
"noimageindex"-meaning that you wish to no images on the site to be indexed.
"noarchive" or "nocache"- meaning that search engines should not show a cached link to the page in the search results.
"follow"– meaning that you want the links on the page to be crawled.
"nofollow"- meaning that you don't want the links on the page to be crawled.
"unavailable_after: "meaning that after a specified date the page will no longer be available.
<link href="URL" rel="canonical">
In brief, a canonical tag, also referred to as a
"rel canonical", tells search engines which version or URL of a page you want to appear in the search engine results pages. Canonical tags can be useful in ensuring that duplicate content issues don't happen by helping you to address which is the ‘original' version of the content if it appears in multiple websites or URLs on the web.
<img src="url" alt="Descriptions of any images will go here">
The alt tag, alt text or alt attribute provides search engine crawlers who can't perceive images as humans do, to understand what the image is about. As well as this, alt text can help provide visually impaired users with descriptions of your images if they are using accessibility software when browsing the internet.
Why aren't Meta-Keyword Tags used anymore?
Just over ten years ago, search engines such as Google weren't as advanced as the technology and algorithm are today. Therefore, Google used meta keywords tags to get a better understanding of the types of content and subject matter that the page contained, except many people abused meta tags.
Instead of including keywords that were related to their website and webpages, they spammed the tags with high volume keywords in an effort of ranking for them, which manipulated the search results. Google soon put a stop to that as they have put updates and initiatives in place to ensure that they tackle website and attempts to manipulate the search results.
Does this mean that we shouldn't use Meta Tags?
Just because Google has confirmed that it no longer considers the meta keyword tag, there is nothing to suggest that search engines don't pay attention to the other meta tags and in fact, they have a lot of benefits, so for best SEO practice ensure that you keep using meta tags.
Should I be using the Meta-Keywords tag in 2019?
Ultimately, it is up to you whether you carry on using meta keywords as Google confirmed that search engines don't take any notice of them anymore, so they appear to be pretty obsolete with a pretty big downside as well. Using meta keywords can also allow your competitors to determine which keywords you are trying to rank for when they inspect your page, which means that if they find out they could have the potential to outrank you.
Although giants such as Amazon still use meta keywords (if you don't believe us then take a look yourselves!) using meta keywords appears a little too much hassle to us than it's worth.
Are Keywords still important?
Yes! Don't get confused, although meta keywords aren't relevant, keywords as a whole are still crucial in SEO, although there is becoming less and less emphasis on keywords and more on natural language. However, that is not to say that you shouldn't be optimising your content for those all-important keywords, think twice before including them in your meta keywords tag.
All in all, the meta keywords tag appears to be an SEO tactic from the distant past which has become obsolete as search engines evolved to both create better search results and tackle dreaded web spam that we all hate. In conclusion, there are many ways to optimise your content for keywords; however, we'd steer clear of using meta keywords as there doesn't appear to be a lot of benefits.