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From what I have read, Google no longer uses meta keywords in it's ranking algorithm. Is it worth the effort to maintain meta keywords?

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Why is this a community wiki? –  Marco Demaio Aug 11 '10 at 11:05
    
Check out meta.webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/235/… for a discussion on why this is community wiki and check out meta.webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/231/… for the discussion about when to use community wiki in general. These are open ongoing discussions so PLEASE give us your thoughts and feelings. They will affect how the Mods treat questions like this. We want to hear from all of you! –  RandomBen Aug 14 '10 at 15:07

9 Answers 9

The fact is, neither Google nor Bing use meta keywords at all. Yahoo and other search engines at least index them, so they do count somewhat, but their weighting in ranking algorithms is very low.

Adding meta keywords can only be useful when they are targeted to pages individually. In other words, a page about "red mechanical widgets" should have those three keywords on it, and similarly for "blue electronic widgets". Putting "red, blue, mechanical, electronic, widgets" as your keywords across the site means they lose their effectiveness.

To put this into perspective:

  1. Keywords are only useful when they are targeted and you spend more time on them.
  2. Keywords have zero or negligible impact on search rankings.

I think it's clear to see that it's not worth spending the time on them.

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Meta keywords are also a good way of serving one's SEO strategy to its competitors on a golden plate. –  Double Gras Mar 12 '13 at 17:42

As they are fairly easy to implement if using a CMS, there is no harm in adding them. That being said, there CAN be harm in adding them indiscriminately. Meta keywords were traditionally overused and abused by spammers, so keeping the amount of keywords down to a reasonable level is highly encouraged if you do choose to add them in.

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Technically speaking they are "easy to implement", but writing them correctly would require a lot of time and effort especially when you have hundreds of pages. –  jessegavin Jul 9 '10 at 15:49
    
There might be harm as it makes it easier for competitors to see the key phrases that you are targeting. –  Christian Jul 20 '10 at 2:47
    
@jessegavin: Writing them for hundreds of pages all at once takes a lot of time and effort, but that's why most CMSes have you put them in when you first post a piece of content. If you can't write page-specific keywords for automatically generated content, then use the best general keywords you can. –  Lèse majesté Oct 30 '10 at 1:51
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As some website software may be fairly easily changed to use them for augmenting internal site search, they not only are easy to implement, but also allow you an invisible place to put text to not look foolish purposefully misspelling stuff so people can find it. As Googy Boogy (sic) ignores it, it wont be misinterpreted as keyword stuffing –  Fiasco Labs Nov 17 '11 at 4:37
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@Christian Every single website you do might be harm as it makes it easier for competitors to see what and who you are targeting... I mean your comment is basically true for everything in Internet ;) –  Olivier Pons Nov 17 '11 at 8:17

Yes, because Google is not the only search engine. It is the biggest by far, but that does not mean that other people do not use other search engines that may still rely on keywords at least to some degree.

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Google and Bing together account for 95% of the searches, and both ignore meta tags. Is the effort of maintaining them worth the results on the 5% leftover? –  zneak Mar 2 '11 at 3:03
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@zneak Do you currently have a source for this? –  chrisjlee Nov 16 '11 at 21:51
    
@ChrisJ.Lee, a simple search about "google meta" on Google will return an ample amount of results supporting what I've said. There is this place, this other place, here too, ... I didn't bother to check for Bing, though. If you find out that I'm wrong, please comment back. –  zneak Nov 17 '11 at 0:29

Screenreaders still read this tags and gives blind users the possibility to get the right information fast.

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Interesting point. Do you have a source for this? –  Jon Cram Jul 8 '10 at 19:20
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@Jon Cram : bit.ly/metaforaccess <- Link to HTML version of a PDF on google explaining a bit about how screenreaders read metadata. The full link was to large. –  Noctrine Jul 12 '10 at 15:51

No it is not because it takes time to do, and most search engines ignore them. The one search engine you really have to care about is google; optimizing for others is really not worth your time as they bring you a ridiculously low amount of visitors compared to google.

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When you publish something, you of course want page rank, but you also want people to be able to find and use what you publish. It looks like you are considering only keywords when considering meta tags, and I think that is a mistake.

Language, description and author are equally important. Since it costs only a few lines of HTML to include that, I can't find a good reason not to use them.

Its wise to not just consider search engines when deciding what goes into any given document. The knowledge that the tags are standard and something might look for them is (in my opinion) motivation enough to include them.

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I see what you're saying here. And you're making a valid point. I guess at some point Google (or other search engines) could decide to change their algorithm to use them in some way that would bring substantial benefit. I am still not sure that a webmaster will always get a return on the amount of effort it takes to write good quality keywords. –  jessegavin Jul 12 '10 at 15:29

I use them as a part of our internal search function on our website. That was one of their initial purposes after all.

Especially useful at presenting common misspellings and alternate/synonym terms so customers coming to our website don't give up in screaming frustration on searching 20 consecutive times for weird iterations of cercut overload break, never realizing that circuit breakers would have got it in one both in spelling and common used terms, send us a pointed message on our website feedback about how our search s!cks and head off for our competitors.

Too many people think their website's only function is to service Google and Bing. Well those are useful for getting your customer to your site. But you may be losing your customer because your site is search non-functional. Think about it

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Search engines have, for years, ignored the meta keywords tag as a ranking signal. Although it technically does not harm rankings, it can be used by competitors as a method to extract your targeted terms and thus, I recommend against its use.

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in addition, meta information and therefore meta tags are increasing their importance for the semantic web. As the web evolves and also the search engines, the meta information will be decisive to the results and content given. So they say... :)

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"So they say". Says who? –  John Conde May 3 '12 at 11:24
    
the researchers and groups all around the world that are working on this. –  mll May 3 '12 at 11:59

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