Meta Keywords like
<meta keywords="sobyte, sobyte.net"> are a type of Meta tags that exist only in HTML code and are not displayed in the browser. In the past, Meta Keywords tags were used to tell search engine crawlers information about a web page. But do search engines still respect Meta Keywords, and are they still a best practice for SEO?
History of Meta Keywords
The history of Meta Keywords dates back to 1995, when the HTML standard setters thought that Meta Keywords would help search engines get information about a page. However, Meta Keywords existed only in the HTML source code and were visible to search engine crawlers, but they were not displayed in browsers and were not visible to most visitors. As a result, since 1999, almost all websites have been abusing Meta Keywords by stuffing them with irrelevant tags and keywords to cheat search engine rankings and grab traffic.
Some even believe that it was the abuse of Meta Keywords by websites that led to the rise of Google, which was not the first search engine in the world, but was the first to recognize the seriousness of the Meta Keywords abuse problem. So Google stopped relying on websites to provide keywords and relied on more factors, such as full-text content, internal and external links. In addition to Google, other search engines such as Yahoo also started to use more web metrics. But Meta Keywords are too easy to be abused, and since 2000, almost all websites are still abusing Meta Keywords.
A watershed year was 2009, when Google publicly announced for the first time that they were not using Meta Keywords, and the same year Yahoo revealed that they had stopped using Meta Keywords as a metric a long time ago. By 2015, the majority of search engines no longer use Meta Keywords as a key metric.
Google - Ignore Meta Keywords altogether
Google has not used Meta Keywords tags as a factor in measuring Ranking since 2009; Google also penalizes sites that misuse Meta Keywords by downgrading them.
Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.
- Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking - Google Search Central Blog, September 21, 2009
- Unsupported tags and attributes - Google Search Central Documentation
Bing - Ignore Meta Keywords altogether
Microsoft Bing officially and publicly announced in 2014 that Meta Keywords are worthless for Bing SEO.
Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to ‘bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.
In 2020, Microsoft Bing’s then-CEO again said on Twitter that Bing would ignore, overlook, and exclude Meta Keywords.
- Blame The Meta Keyword Tag - Microsoft Bing Blog, October 4, 2014
- The meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value for @BingWMC. We exclude it and ignore it - ChristiJOlson, Head of Paid Search at Microsoft, May 29, 2020
Yahoo - Hardly Uses Meta Keywords
At Search Marketing Expo 2009, Yahoo’s then head of search, Cris Pierry, said during a Q&A session that Yahoo had actually stopped using Meta Keywords as a metric. Search Engine Land conducted a test and found that Yahoo still indexes Meta Keywords information, and Yahoo’s official response was that Yahoo still uses Meta Keywords as the last straw when it can’t get information about a web page from its title, description, links, media files, etc.
Yahoo Search No Longer Uses Meta Keywords Tag, October 6, 2009
The news came during the Ask The Search Engines session at SMX East in New York today. The search engines were all asked about their support of the tag. Moderator Danny Sullivan noted that only Yahoo provided support of the tag — prompting Cris Pierry, senior director of search at Yahoo, to announce that support actually had been ended unannounced “several” months ago.
Sorry, Yahoo, You DO Index The Meta Keywords Tag, October 14, 2009
What changed with Yahoo’s ranking algorithms is that while we still index the meta keyword tag, the ranking importance given to meta keyword tags receives the lowest ranking signal in our system. Words that appear in any other part of documents, including the body, title, description, anchor text etc., will take priority in ranking the document - the re-occurrence of these words in the meta keyword tag will not help in boosting the signal for these words. Therefore, keyword stuffing in the keyword tag will not help a page’s recall or ranking, it will actually have less effect than introducing those same words in the body of the document, or any other section.
Baidu - Meta Keywords are non-key metrics
Since 2012, Baidu has been deliberately weakening the importance of Meta Keywords, and in 2018, a Chinese SEO expert from China wrote a blog about why you shouldn’t use Meta Keywords as a means to optimize your Baidu SEO, citing a public statement made by a Baidu search engineer back in 2013 that.
Meta Keywords have long since gone into the dustbin of history and we will simply ignore them.
- Why You shouldn’t Use Meta Keywords Tag for Baidu SEO Anymore - Jinray China SEO Diary, July 4, 2018
Yandex - Meta Keywords are non-key metrics
Yandex, the largest search engine in Russia, is one of the few search engines that still uses Meta Keywords as one of its metrics, but many SEO experts from Russia have said that Meta Keywords have had little effect on improving Yandex SEO.
- Meta tags that Yandex takes into account
- “Officially” they say they still do, but I think this is a very low weight factor, even for яндекс. This is the consensus among most of us who have done SEO in Russian :) - orun bhuiyan on Twitter, May 30, 2020
Meta Keywords are dead. Websites should stop using Meta Keywords tags. Search engines are focusing more on other dimensions such as Title tags, Meta Description and structured data.