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The topic of meta keywords always causes discussions. Originally, the meta keywords element was there to describe the keywords for websites and to increase the ranking factor. Additionally, for a content writer briefing are keywords essential. But what impact will the meta keywords tag have in 2022 and is it still relevant at all for search queries on Google and Co. today?
What Are Meta Keywords?
Meta keywords are meta elements – such as the meta description and the page title. A meta keyword is a keyword that appears in the head of the source text of a website and (at least in the past) was used for better rankings in search results. The terms are written in lowercase and separated by commas. In HTML it looks like this:
<meta name="keywords" content="keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3″/>
For visitors of the website they are not visible at first sight, but of course they can be seen via the source code of the page.
Why Do Meta Keywords Exist?
To understand why meta keywords exist, we need to go back to the times before Google existed. At that time, the creation of meta information was an important SEO measure in online marketing. This included meta keywords, title and description. The fact that meta keywords were one of the most important elements was simply because technology was not as advanced in the past as it is today with Google and Co. In the early 90s, the various search engines were not able to rank the content of a website.
Through meta keywords, it was therefore relatively easy to bring one’s own website to the front in the search engines and to provide traffic. But as positive as this sounds, it was also disadvantageous. This simplicity led to the fact that the tags were abused for the manipulation of the search results. For example, many websites used meta keywords that had nothing to do with the real content of the page.
Importance Of Meta Keywords For SEO In 2022
In 2009, Google publicly confirmed that meta keywords do not influence algorithms and ranking. However, it did not explain whether this meta tag is no longer relevant at all. Whether the excessive use of meta keywords is related to the punishment of websites remains open. Especially if many meta keywords are used that have no connection with the text of the web page, it can be assumed that the page in question will be classified as spam and penalized.
Other search engines have been more or less clear about the importance of meta keywords in terms of ranking. Bing, for example, also no longer considers meta tag keywords, Baidu, on the other hand, still seems to use it for search results. However, the fact is that even if a search engine still takes meta keywords into account, the weighting is very low. In this day and age, technology has advanced far enough that Google and co. no longer need meta keywords to recognize the content of a website. In contrast, the other meta elements, i.e. meta description and title tags have an influence on the traffic of a page, at least indirectly through a higher click-through rate.
Other Use Cases
Meta keywords may not be important today, especially in Google, but there are other use cases for them.
First of all, there is the internal search on websites. Many of the search engine crawlers of popular search systems no longer use meta keywords, but there are still providers or tools on the market that rely on this technique apart from search engine optimization. So it can be useful to set keyword tags to optimize the internal search.
Furthermore, the tags can help to avoid keyword cannibalization. After all, it happens quickly that one loses the overview because of all the subpages. However, if all pages are tagged with meta keywords, they can easily be crawled to see if there are internal websites targeting the same keywords. Keyword cannibalization can ultimately have unpleasant consequences for Google and Co. rankings, for example, if an unimportant page outranks an important one – literally.
One last option, using meta keywords can be both a curse and a blessing. Since they are visible to everyone in the source code of the website, it is easy to find out the keywords of the competition through them. However, it should be mentioned that some companies fill their keyword tags with irrelevant words. So you should be careful when doing research. Conversely, this also means that your competitors can see the keywords that you set on your website – which in turn speaks against using them at all.
How Can Meta Keywords Be Removed?
If you already use meta keywords on your pages, you should think about whether you really want to keep them. If you come to the conclusion that the keyword tags do more harm than good, you can remove them.
However, in order to do that, they must first be found. On small and clear websites, this should not be a problem. Here, one can simply click through the CMS manually and delete the displayed meta keywords. For larger, widely branched websites, one should resort to external help.
Conclusion: How Relevant Are Meta Keywords In 2022?
From an SEO perspective, meta keywords, unlike meta title and meta description, are no longer relevant today. Google has not been using them to rank websites for more than ten years, and they also play a very minor role in all other engines such as Bing.
Internally, they can still be useful, for example to keep an overview of one’s own website and to avoid keyword cannibalization. They are also still the technical basis for some tools for internal website search – but this is also gradually being replaced by other techniques.
However, those who have the tags on their website to a small extent do not have to fear any negative consequences. Engines such as Google and Co. may only punish so-called keyword stuffing, i.e. too many keywords that do not fit thematically to the page content. Only with regard to the competition meta keywords could bring disadvantages, because they are visible to everyone and partly give information about the own SEO strategy.
Thus, they are unimportant for a search engine. However, other use cases have to be seen individually.