Meta keywords are a type of meta tag that appears in a web page’s HTML code, and it helps search engines determine what the topic of the web page is about. They differ from regular keywords in that they appear ‘behind the scenes’ – in the source code – of your page, rather than on the page itself. However, they should be used in tandem with regular keywords to maximize their effect.
The most important thing when selecting or optimizing meta keywords is to ensure that they accurately reflect the content on your web page. It’s counterproductive to direct traffic with keyword phrases that are not relevant to your web page.
Why Are Meta Keywords Important?
Once Google realized site owners and marketers were stuffing their code with high-volume meta keywords and phrases, they devalued them. Now, more attention and value is paid towards title tags and meta descriptions.
But that’s not to say that meta keywords are no longer important. They still are, just not as much as they used to be. In fact, there is evidence to show that search engines do still rely on them somewhat. Chances are, your competition is already using meta keywords, and so following suit would be a wise choice.
Besides, although compiling a keyword list can be time-consuming, it is invaluable in helping to drive the focus of your content directly towards potential customers who might be searching for you. Not to mention, that title tags and meta descriptions are among the first things search engine crawlers see, and they use this information to better assess the relevancy of your content compared with each search.
How To Incorporate Meta Keywords In Your Content
Whether you manually collect meta keywords or have a tool or some software doing the work for you, it’s vital that the keywords selected are relevant to the content of your web page. This helps Google bots understand what your content is about, and thus present it to relevant and interested readers on the search engine results pages.
Also, as a general rule of thumb, a single web page should not include more than 10 meta keywords.Additionally, keep these factors in mind when selecting keywords:
Seed keywords are one-word keywords that define the core elements of a search. For example, if you are looking for solutions regarding a search engine optimization strategy, the seed keyword in your search would be ‘SEO’. However, seed keywords have high competition and often don’t generate traffic, therefore you want to use more long-tail keywords.
Keyword plurals and variations are both useful and should be kept in mind, as well as the more large-scale and specific phrases – long-tail keywords. They seem more like a request than an answer and are meant to be specific. Long-tail keywords are based on user searches, and thus the more specific you are, the higher the chance you have to match the user’s needs.
Long-tail keywords are also less competitive, thus allowing you to rank for a topic you would otherwise wouldn’t. For example, instead of using “SEO” as you meta keywords, use “SEO tips”, or even “Best SEO tips for small websites”.
However, instead of fumbling in the dark for the right keywords, use your user data and their searches. In the past, there have been real search terms that have brought users to your page. Check your analytics and log files to find those keywords, and try to create meta keywords based on those.
As a general practice, misspellings should be avoided at all costs, especially for meta keywords. Since meta keywords are read by crawlers and not actual human beings, this can become confusing and harmful quickly. Misspellings in your meta tags can indicate to search engines that your page is only relevant to the misspelled search query, which is not what you want.