The Great Debate: Are Meta Keywords Worth Your Time?
To get straight to the point, I think Meta Keywords are annoying. For those who are unfamiliar, as you create and design your website you will be prompted to insert Meta Keywords. These keywords, words that are most relevant to describe your site, are hidden from the public because of what we call Meta Tags, or pieces of code seen only by search engines. The keywords are generally placed between the HEAD tags in your HTML code, and each keyword is separated with a comma. The idea is that these keywords will help your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Believe it or not, most people I talk to also find these keywords annoying, and many are now saying that they are completely useless. However, these Meta Keywords are easy to type into your website or your article, so businesses have been filling in these blanks since search engines become popular ten years ago. Although it only takes two minutes, there is no sense in bothering, even for two minutes, with something useless. If you are going to do something for your website, it is important to know what the benefit is (if there is a benefit at all), regardless of how long it may take. Consider the history of these Meta Keywords and how their role has evolved over the last ten years:
Meta Keywords Then and Now
In the 1990’s, it worked like this:
- A website would place these keywords on its site to signify its main and relevant topics
- Search Engines would then use metadata to classify and index a website
- A website with correct meta elements would then rank highly in search engine results
Today, the Meta Keywords work very similarly, but with one major difference:
- Business owners place these keywords on their site to signify its main topics
- Businesses began to take advantage of meta keywords, and sites then began to appear in unrelated search engine results
- Major search engines no longer use keywords to classify or index a website
Now that the biggest factor, Google and other search engine page rankings, is no longer, many businesses are wondering whether or not Meta Keywords are worth their time. Although it is simple to add in Meta Keywords, the whole concept can be a bit confusing to a startup company or employees new to the SEO world. At first glance, most would say these keywords have lost their value. After all, Google is the end goal for an SEO director. However, there are a few reasons that these annoying little words are still worth your time:
Google Doesn’t Want Them, but Meta Keywords Are Here to Stay
- Smaller search engines still use Meta Keywords
It may seem like Google and Bing rankings are the only way to get ahead, but many companies are realizing that local search engines also bring in business. After all, creating dishonest keywords was worth it for companies looking to rank on Google, but now that this is no longer available, smaller search engines have nothing to worry about.
- Directory sites still use Meta Keywords
Directory sites often use these Meta Keyword tags to help categorize your website. These sites will need to know where to index your site, and they are more likely to do so if you make it easy on them through Meta Keywords. Think of it as a document management tactic for directory sites. In other words, your site will appear much more often in directories when compared to sites without Meta Keywords.
- Meta Keywords work well for internal uses
Tagging specific keywords works well when it comes to documenting each page. As your company grows, your pages and your team will likely expand. If you have a Meta Keyword in place, future employees looking to develop pages will know the goal of each page exactly.
- Preparation if major search engines ever go back to the Meta Keyword system
This is unlikely to happen with Google simply because they have new algorithms for ranking pages, but it could very well happen with other major search engines. If done correctly, this system is an easy way to help index a page. It only takes a few seconds to set up a keyword tag, so it can’t hurt to get ready for the unexpected.
As I said before, I will be the first to admit that worrying about Meta Keywords is a bit annoying. However, once you know that this habit has positive effects, you can begin to think of these keywords as just another way to increase popularity in your company. Although they may not yield quite as obvious results, they cannot hurt your company. In other words, they are still worth the extra two minutes.