Meta keywords for SEO

What are Meta Keywords:

Meta keywords are the terms included in the <head> section of a webpage.  Historically, meta keywords were one of the first elements on a webpage that search engines looked at in determining what the web page was about.  Meta data is often referred to as “data about data”, so a meta keyword was intended to sum up what the rest of the webpage was about for a search engine.

The line of code looks like this:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”tropical fish, koi fish, freshwater fish” />

The keywords should be relevant to what the website is.  The example above, clearly, was from a website about Koi fish.

Three myths debunked of Meta Keywords usage:

Meta Keywords have changed dramatically in the eyes of a search engine over the years.  Here are some lingering myths of how to use Meta Keywords

Optimize for misspellings

Myth: Include misspellings of your brand names, to capture type-os and misspellings in Google search.

Reality: When Google introduced “spell-checking-intelligence” some time in early 2007, any possible success of this went away overnight.  Have you seen “Did you mean…” at the top of search results?

Best Practice: Use actual terms that the page is about, spelled correctly and don’t repeat terms.

Use as many keywords as you can in the meta keywords

Myth: Add all the keywords you can think of, that way Google will know what the site is about.

Reality: Because this is so misused, Google has publicity said that they don’t even look at meta keywords anymore…at all (since 2009).  Bing, on the other hand, has said that they do look at meta keywords, but if they are abused (to many) Bing will consider the webpage as spam.  Personally, I have seen websites with 100s of keywords in the meta field; they didn’t show up for any of them in natural search results.

Best Practice: Use a single meta keyword (or phrase) per page.  Make sure your page is focused enough to talk about only one keyword.  If the page isn’t focused enough around one keyword, consider breaking up the content into separate pages.

Same meta keywords for every page

Myth: Having the same set of keywords on every page, reinforces to the search engines what the website is about.

Reality: I often say “We optimize web pages, not websites.”  This is a great example of that paradigm; that each webpage should have a unique purpose and unique keyword describing that purpose.

Best Practice: Strive to use a unique meta keyword for every page.


I hope this helps in your optimization goals.  Please send me any examples of other myths you’ve heard, or examples of good/bad meta keyword usage.

Additional reading form  The meta keywords lives..

Post filed under SEO.