Meta Keywords: are they still relevant?

Devemos usar meta palavras-chave? São eles realmente importantes? How many meta keywords should we use? These are just some of the most frequently asked questions among newcomers to the world of SEO. In this article we will explain what these keywords consist of and also cover other topics, including their current relevance.



What are meta keywords?


Meta keywords are a specific type of meta tags that appear in the HTML code of a web page. A meta tag defines the different types of metadata in an HTML document, and thus allows its content to be identified and understood by Google’s robots. So essentially, meta keywords are used to provide search engines with more information about the content of a given page.


Another relevant aspect to mention is that meta keywords differ from normal keywords in that they appear “behind the scenes,” i.e. they are hidden in the source of a web page rather than visible.



History of meta keywords – how did it all start?


These keywords came about at a time when there were no intelligent search algorithms like Google’s current ones yet. In a not so distant time, search engine optimization consisted of using meta keywords in the HTML for web pages. These keywords were used when they were relevant to the content of a page and to appear in related search results.


The meta keywords were placed in the header section of an HTML page as follows:

<meta name="keywords" content="Keyword1, Keyword2, Keyword">


Basically, they were placed by anyone, and allowed you to get to the search results of a search engine very easily. Of course, this accessibility eventually brought drawbacks! Over time, the web became more commercial and people started stuffing HTML with keywords to achieve desired results. So the search engines started to ignore all this spamming.

Over time, meta keywords became devalued by Google because they were being abused by owners of certain websites. However, it is still unclear whether they have been removed completely from Google’s algorithm, as Google, like many search engines, keeps secrets associated with its algorithm as a way to prevent anyone from interfering with the system.

Today, it is suspected that Bing and other search engines still use meta-keywords, however, overall these no longer assume the dominant presence they once did.



So… are meta keywords still relevant?


There is no denying that the popularity of meta keywords is not what it used to be. Most search engines quickly realized that websites can take advantage of meta keywords and misuse them. However, the truth is that these can still be useful when it comes to getting your message across and attracting visitors to your page.

Let’s face it… in a world as competitive as the Internet, where everyone wants to reach the much desired first page of search results, everything helps, no matter how irrelevant it may seem!

Tips for incorporating meta keywords into your content:


When it comes to selecting these types of keywords, it is important to take some factors into account:

  • Number of keywords: use no more than 10 meta keywords for a single page.
  • Relevance of keywords: always remember to choose keywords that are aligned with your content.
  • Long-tail keywords: it is important to include variations of the word in question, such as its plural, and also bet on more specific and longer phrases like long-tail keywords.
  • Spelling errors: the normal thing would be to say to avoid spelling errors, but in this case, you can benefit from them! It is important to include at least one misspelled keyword, so that your website also appears in the results for misspelled words. After all, it is quite common to get a letter wrong and end up searching for an incorrect name!
  • Past searches: Be sure to review old search terms that have led visitors to your page in the past. Through your analytics, you can easily get this data and thus know what works best for your page.


In conclusion, the truth is that the usefulness of meta keywords is not what it used to be. But no problem! Nowadays, there are many other ways to bet on SEO of your website and to get successful results. Some strategies that are more effective than meta keywords are writing engaging content, using relevant keywords, optimizing your web page, investing in quality images, and communicating with readers.


However, the use of meta keywords will not bring any negative impact. In a worst case scenario, they simply don’t work. But as already mentioned, in a world as competitive as the online world, a little extra help is always welcome, and meta keywords can really provide a little boost in your page’s SEO, so why not give it a try?

Catarina Fonseca
Catarina Fonseca

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