Google LONG ago stopped caring about meta keywords. How long ago? Circa 2009.
Years ago, search engine algorithms took meta keywords into account, until people starting abusing that meta tag and would spam search engines with irrelevant keywords in an effort to get higher page rank. The keywords being used in meta tags had absolutely nothing to do with the actual content on the web page. Google wants a positive user experience for its users… and advertisers. Advertising is, after all, Google’s core business. Tossing keywords on your page won’t help you rank higher in search results. What will help is original, relevant content — written for real people.
From Google, dated September 2009:
Q: Does Google ever use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking?
A: In a word, no.
Fast forward to today and website owners are still stressing over meta keywords — and still putting a dozen or so in their meta tags. Then there’s the matter of repeating keywords a thousand times within your content, to the point where the article becomes difficult to read and nonsensical.
Just Don’t Do It
The best argument for dropping those meta keywords like the bad habit that they are is that you’re inadvertently publicizing your online marketing strategy to your competitors. They can then take your keywords and input them into their pay per click campaign, thereby stealing visits to your website.
None of this is to say that keywords are completely useless. They’re just useless in the keyword meta tag. You still want to optimize your web pages with the right keywords. By “right keywords” I’m referring to words that suit the purpose of your content. They should be words that reflect what people actually type into the search box, while also factoring in that Google looks for specific meaning in relevant content as they (“they” being computers / Internet of Things) strive to become more human-like.
A good reference for learning how to do in-depth and meaningful keyword research is The Ultimate Keyword Research Guide for SEO, by Semrush.
BERT is Figuring Out What You’re Searching for Online
In 2019 Google started improving its search results with help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). They integrated a machine learning model called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) into search. Since then, they’ve been moving more and more towards using AI for search results. This means that a string of keywords isn’t going to help Google determine whether or not the article will “answer the query.”
So it comes down to the quality and relevance of the article:
- Is it of use to the person doing a search?
- Does it provide the searcher with the answer that they were looking for when they landed on the page?
Use a Broad Range of Keyword Phrases
Keyword phrases, also known as “long tail keywords,” are three or four phrases which are very specific to whatever it is that you’re selling, or whatever your web page is about. One of the upsides to using highly specific phrases is that you’re going to attract customers who tend to be doing very specific searches. When people search online for products they’re either looking for general information (such as product reviews or lowest price) before they purchase, or they already know what they want and are ready to purchase. If your content is meaningful to those who read it you’re likely to see a higher conversion rate.
Keywords Are Like Real Estate: Location. Location. Location.
The placement of your keywords matters more than the frequency. This means that you can stop repeating your keywords in every sentence in every paragraph on your web page. Placing your keyword phrase once in the title tag and once in the header matters more than how many times you place them in your content. Meta information and headers take top priority with Google, body content is secondary.
Did you know:
70-80% of web users ignore the paid adverts.
8% of search queries are entered into a browser in the form of a question.
91,144 Google searches take place every second.
Google introduces 500 to 600 changes to its search algorithms every year.
More SEO statistics are posted on smallbizgenius.net.