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?
The fact is, neither Google nor Bing (nor Yahoo, since they use Bing under the hood) use meta keywords at all. Some 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:
- Keywords are only useful when they are targeted and you spend more time on them.
- 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.
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.
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.
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