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I am working on this new site, and the original creator used meta keywords.

I want to remove them but for various reasons it cannot be done through PHP. Long story. The easiest way to remove them is to simply wrap the meta keywords directive in HTML comments :) . It sounds silly but it works :). The meta keywords directive is still in the head section but with comments. And spiders no longer read it.

So, do you think Google or other search engines will pick up these at a spam of some sort?

I know, it is not perhaps best practice but that is not the question here.

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You should be fine.

Stating the obvious, the fetch from any spider will still get your entire HTML code. Google, and I am sure Bing and others, will still store the entire HTML in their database. But that is where it will/should end.

Search engines use the HTML DOM object model to analyze your source code. Google, Bing, and others with the exception of Yandex, will completely ignore any keywords meta-tag found. In fact, there is no provision within the Google index for the keywords meta-tag and has not been for a very long time. That is good news. So even without the comment tags, only Yandex would even touch the keywords meta-tag.

To further your point, I have done the same thing as a quick fix to modify the HTML my site produces with positive and immediate (as much as search allows) effect. You should be fine using the comment tags to disable (lack of a better word) the keywords meta-tag. I rather suspect that even with Yandex, this will work a treat!

Not a worry. You are doing the right thing!

If and when you can remove the keywords meta-tag, I would recommend it. I know that sometimes this is not an easy thing to do. But put it on your to-do list after all the other really important items and get to it as soon as you can. Think about how nicer the holidays will be without that damned keywords meta-tag hanging over your head? The wine would be sweeter, the meal spectacular, the company a charm, the music more soothing, the night air and evening stars will be magical, and your girl will be the belle of the ball... okay, I might have gone over-board. But you get my drift.

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  • :) you made me laugh. Thanks for the comment and explination. Hope it will be fine – ClawDuda Oct 15 '15 at 15:24
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    @ClawDuda I added the thought that Google does not even have a provision in it's index for the keywords meat-tag- that is how ignored it is. On a side note, I love humor and like to throw out something funny every now and again. Sometimes I like to twist conventional wisdom on it's head with something a bit bazaar or obscure just to make people think a bit or to take them on a journey hey did not know they wanted to go on. I can't help myself! ;-) – closetnoc Oct 15 '15 at 15:28
  • @ClawDuda I live in farm country. Thanksgiving might be sharing a turkey samich (that is how it said around here) and a glass of milk with Bessie the cow and all her/our flatulence. – closetnoc Oct 15 '15 at 15:32
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You shouldn't delete or disable them. If Google doesn't takes keywords into account, it doesn't mean, they are on any way dangerous or would on any way disturb your site's ranking:)

I would let them published. Specially, if they aren't spammy, but descriptive.

Keywords could help you to istablish a relation between your site and the topics described by meta keywords on the way you can't imagine: look, there are gazillions of web crawlers in the wild web. They all crawl the web with gazillions of different parameters. One of these parameters is keywords. In example, a web crawler (not a Googlebot, but anythings built up from a Chinese or russian schoolboy) crawls all sites, which have meta keywords, and builds an indexable web database from them, which is enriched by structured data. Google finds this database and finds a citation of your site url associated with its keywords. On this way your site becomes an indexed relation to the keywords, even if Google doesn't directly takes them into account.

If your site is a Google News publisher, so there is a kind of keywords, which indeed are taken by Google into account, namely news_keywords - in this case you could rework keywords into news_keywords.

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    I know there were different debates over meta keywords. But the site is too big to manually modify and check every meta keyword on every page. I know for example Big sometimes sees them as spam in some cases. And this site in particular had lots of keywords set there. And all on every page. I think the safe bet would be to just remove them and get it over with :) – ClawDuda Oct 15 '15 at 15:25
  • well, if they bring you sorrows, because of their quality, and to check it would be too time consuming, then getting rid of is the best choice:) is your site database driven? then kicking keywords away is the simple thing - just a single database query – Evgeniy Oct 16 '15 at 7:01

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