Search engine optimization is a tricky thing to truly master. Sometimes, it seems like each article stresses the importance of different components that go into it, leaving many business owners and newer marketers very confused.
It can be strange to read about how content marketing is the key to SEO success, jump to how without backlinks your SEO dreams are shattered, and learn that web design plays more into SEO than you thought and not come out with your head spinning on the other side.
One discussion that is sure to make you confused has to do with SEO and the meta keyword tag. Some say it’s essential, others downplay its role in favour of other, more complex strategies.
Well, which is it? Let’s find out.
What Is the Meta Keyword Tag?
Meta keywords are the ones that don’t appear on a web page for viewers to see but are added to the source code of a page through meta description tags or title tags (which appear in the head section of the page), as a way to help search engines figure out easier what the web page is about.
Your typical search engine uses a web crawler to scan various pages when a search query is made. Since the web crawler cannot read the page content, it looks for certain signals that let it know your page matches the user query, like the use of keywords in the meta description.
But Google does not use meta information as a ranking factor, that much we can say because Google directly told us so. So if it’s not a ranking factor, meaning it is not used to decide the order of the pages in the search results, why would we bother with it? After all, SEO has enough individual components that require our attention.
Well, there are two pretty convincing arguments in favour of meta keywords:
1. Users Do Care about Them
Target audiences may care more about your meta information than you think. Even though this particular content isn’t visible on the web page once an audience member clicks on the link, the title tags and meta descriptions may be the elements that help them decide which link to click.
Because the title tag and meta descriptions are used as the article preview in the search result page. Consider you have tens of potential results delivered by Google. How do you know which ones to click on?
Search engines do a pretty good job at trying to match user intents and placing high-quality websites on top rankings, but as a user, you may have to read those descriptions just to make sure you award your precious click to the right website.
Using these keywords in the title and meta descriptions is a way to reinforce to the users that yes, your article is relevant for their search queries.
2. We Don’t Know Everything about Search Engine Rankings
Search engines don’t have a team of people that decide the order of websites in a SERP. They use a ranking algorithm to automate this process.
And neither Google nor Bing, nor any other major search engine made their ranking algorithms public. They do have plenty of recommendations on how websites to improve their rankings, but for the most part, it’s a guessing game.
We don’t know, for instance, how much page content matters to rankings down to a percentage. We just know it does. We know that meta keywords tags aren’t a ranking factor now, but that doesn’t mean it will never be. Search engines are constantly evolving to meet consumer expectations, and deliver better results for their audiences. It’s the task of marketers to always stay on top of these changes, and even try to predict where the search engines might go next.
Meta Keywords Tag Best Practices
The purpose of adding important keywords in the meta descriptions or title tags isn’t just to have extra keywords on your site. Having a keyword-stuffed page gets you the opposite effect you want, as search engines really don’t appreciate this practice.
- Instead, you should be strategic with the titles and descriptions of the page you want to rank. Here are some tips to consider:
- Write a unique title tag for each page – though not visible on the page, the title tag is the headline in the SERP preview and the element that usually catches a reader’s attention;
- Don’t drag it on – pages’ meta descriptions should be to the point, and indicative of what the user will find on the page;
- Leverage your important keywords in these descriptions as well – this helps the user see that your page content will be relevant to their search query;
- Make them curious – users see a lot of titles and descriptions on Google Search. A big challenge for you will be to make yours interesting enough to make people want to click;
- Write for humans – titles and meta descriptions should be written exactly how you’d write the headline and first paragraphs to your blog postings. Don’t be vague or present incomplete sentences as your first impression!
Over to You
While meta keyword tags may not be a ranking signal per se, they are still important, as they’re often the first things a user sees from your brand on the result pages. So it pays to focus a bit more on what goes on in the source code of the page, not just what the users see after they click on a link. On top of your other SEO efforts, of course.
Book a free 30-minute strategy session with Australian Internet Advertising now to get started on improving your SEO strategy and getting a better rank in Google Search.