Digital Marketing Tips

The SEO Design Chicago digital marketing blog is a resource for business owners, marketing professionals, and even students that want to learn more about search engine optimization and all kinds of digital marketing.

Meta Keywords: How do They Work and What are They?

What are Meta Keywords? 

This article will teach you about meta keywords and meta tags, their history, their current relevance and controversy, and how to use them correctly. It will also teach you about the importance of meta keywords and tags for SEO (search engine optimization), and how you can use meta keywords and meta tags to help you attract visitors to your own website. 

Meta Keywords: everything you need to know. 

Meta keywords are a kind of meta tags. (Read more below to learn about meta tags!) Tags are like invisible passwords built into your website that tell search engines what topics your website is about. (Meta tags are invisible to a casual viewer of your website, but they are actually written into the HTML code on the back-end of your site.) However, they have become more controversial in recent years. 

Meta Keywords

History of meta keywords

In the early days of the internet, meta keywords were a useful tool that told the search engines what any website was about and what topics were relevant to it. However, as SEO became more popular, some website owners began “stuffing” their code full of high-traffic keywords in order to garner more traffic. Other website owners even included irrelevant meta keywords in their site, for the same reason – to drive traffic.

As a result, search engine results were becoming cluttered with results that had nothing to do with what searchers had actually searched for. Subsequently, search engines like Google devalued the importance of meta keywords in ranking websites. 

In 2020, some SEO experts say that meta keywords are no longer as important to use as they used to be. Some even say not to use them altogether. However, search engines (for good reason) keep their ranking algorithms a secret. So, no one really knows how important meta keywords are or aren’t in their rankings. 

Should I be using meta keywords?

That is why we think it is not only a good idea to use meta keywords on your website, but use them correctly. Meta keywords can still play an important part in attracting visitors to your website. In this day and age, anything you can do to lure people to your site instead of a competitor’s website will help you. 

Getting started with meta keywords

The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding which meta keywords to use for your web page is to be sure they accurately represent the content of your website. It can be tempting to add keywords that are tangential (or even unrelated) to the topic of your website because they draw a lot of traffic, but it will only hurt your site in the end. Internet users are smarter than ever, and value good content over anything else. 

You might be asking now, how many meta keywords should I use? A good rule is to use no more than 10 meta keywords per single web page. (Otherwise, it could look like you are doing the dreaded keyword stuffing we discussed earlier.) 

Having trouble coming up with relevant keywords? One trick is to use common misspellings of any keywords you are already using – it’s a good way to pick up those searchers who might misspell a word, without having to include any misspelled words in your web page’s copy, which will make your website look sloppy. The good news is, if you include it as a keyword, no one will see it! 

Other good keywords to include would be plural versions of your most obvious and original keywords, or any similar keywords. (Dig out your thesaurus!) 

Another tip with meta keywords is to use what are called long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are three or four keyword phrases which are very, very specific. Generally, when someone is searching for a very specific phrase on the internet, they know exactly what it is they are looking for, especially when it’s a product they’d like to buy. Including those keywords in your web pages will ensure that those customers find your page. 

Another way to find good meta keywords is to work backwards. Find out which words brought users to your site in the first place, then use those terms as meta keywords on your site. 

What are meta tags? 

Meta Tags

Meta tags are pieces of text embedded in a webpage’s source code that describe the page’s content. Visitors to a website don’t see meta tags on the webpage themselves (unless they know where to look in the HTML), but they are seen and read by search engines like Google and Bing. The search engines use the meta tags to tell them what the webpage is about, and subsequently use that information to rank the website. Meta keywords are just one kind of meta tags. 

What do meta tags look like?

A meta tag looks like this: <meta> and is embedded in the back end of your web page. 

What is metadata?

The “meta” in meta tags or meta keywords stands for “metadata,” which is a fancy way of saying data that provides information about other data. In this instance, it is the data about what your page comprises. 

Other useful meta tags and how to use them

There are several other different kinds of meta tags than just meta keywords. Many SEO experts believe they play a more important role in driving visitors to a website than keyword tags. Here are some descriptions of what they are, and how to use them correctly: 

Title tag

A title tag is the bit of HTML that specifies the title of a web page. The title tag is what is displayed as the clickable option for a website on a search engine results page, so it’s the first impression people will get of your website when it pops up on search engines. (So, it’s pretty important.) It also appears at the top of your webpage in the tab. 

When creating your title tag, keep important keywords at the beginning so people will see them first (especially if they have several tabs open at once.) An ideal title tag will be 60 characters or less. Each page of your website should have its own individual title tag. 

Google and other search engines place a high priority on title tags in the rankings system. Remember: be as specific, short and relevant to your website as possible! 

Meta description tag 

The meta description tag is an HTML attribute that provides a short summarization of a web page. You might not realize it, but you’ve seen these tons of times before! The meta description tag is usually used by search engines like Google as the description of a web site in the search engine results page. These are important because a good description tag could be the difference between someone clicking on your website, or picking another to click on from the search engine results page. Think of it as the piece of advertising to sell your web page. However, the description tag does not have any direct SEO value. 

A good description tag should be between 50 and 160 characters. It should succinctly describe what the web page is about, but be captivating enough to make the reader want to click on the website and learn more. 

Viewport tag

In this day and age, many visitors to your website will be looking at it from a mobile device like a cellphone, rather than a laptop. That’s where the viewport tag comes in. Web pages that are optimized for a digital experience will all have the viewport specified. This part can be pretty technical, and is one reason why it might be important for you to hire a digital marketing agency to help you with all your SEO needs. 

There are many more options for tags, from social meta tags to robots. If you’re interested in learning more about additional meta tags and how to use them, here’s a comprehensive list.

And if you’re wondering how to go about doing all this tagging yourself, reach out to us at SEO Design Chicago! We’d love to help you. 

Why is meta tagging important for SEO? 

Meta tag SEO importance

Search engines like Google use the metadata from meta tags and meta keywords in several different ways. They take the information to understand what the webpage is about. They then use it to rank the website and to display parts in search results. 

If you use your meta keywords and meta tags correctly, you will end up attracting more visitors to your website, which is always the ultimate goal. The best way to guarantee you are using the various meta tags correctly, and choosing the right ones to use, is by hiring a full service digital marketing agency like SEO Design Chicago to help you with all of your search engine optimization needs. 

Still need help?

If you need more help with meta keywords, meta tags or search engine optimization, please contact us at SEO Design Chicago. We’d love to help you! 

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