Does Google Still Use Meta Keywords?

Does Google Still Use Meta keywords in its ranking algorithm?

The simple answer is no, Google does not use meta keywords to determine SEO rankings and has not done so since 2009.

On the 21st of September 2009, Google published an article on the Google Search Central Blog that confirmed that the keywords meta tag is not used in ranking web search results. 

Suffice to say; you should not be spending any time adding meta keywords to your website in 2024. Google does not use them to determine ranking signals, and they provide no additional value to users – rendering them obsolete in SEO. 

john mueller talking about meta keywords

Here is the example provided in the media release:

“Suppose you have two website owners, Alice and Bob. Alice runs a company called AliceCo and Bob runs BobCo. One day while looking at Bob’s site, Alice notices that Bob has copied some of the words that she uses in her keywords meta tag. Even more interesting, Bob has added the words “AliceCo” to his keywords meta tag. Should Alice be concerned?

At least for Google’s web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google doesn’t use the keywords meta tag in our web search ranking. This video explains more, or see the questions below.”

Matt Cutts states in the video from 2009:

“You know what, too many people have spammed that too much. We really (just) don’t use this information at all.”

Cutts further clarifies that other search engines may use meta keywords to decipher information and rank pages. However, Google places no weighting on this information.

“At least for Google, we don’t use that (meta keywords) information in our ranking even in the least little bit.”

Why did Google stop using meta keywords as a ranking signal?

Google stopped using meta keywords as a ranking factor because they were overused and spammed by SEO professionals and marketers.

As Matt Cutts mentioned in the video above, meta keywords are no longer considered a ranking factor because they were overused (rather mercilessly) by SEOs and marketers looking to trick their way to the top of search results. Because they were used and abused by search engine marketers, Google decided that they would no longer be used as a ranking factor.

Moral of the story? People can’t have nice things, and search engine optimisation professionals will always look for an easy way to the top of the search results.

Meta keywords are old news, why are you talking about them?

You’re right; meta keywords are old news and should not be a point of discussion for any self-respecting SEO professional.

With that said, as an SEO Company, we field just about every question when it comes to SEO from our prospective clients. We also inherit a lot of websites from SEO companies that (seemingly) don’t have any real idea of what makes a website rank in Google. Here is one example of a website that we have recently started work on. The following image demonstrates the extensive list of meta keywords that were used on the site:

example of meta keywords 2022

Should I remove meta keywords from my website?

Google does not say whether you should remove meta keywords from your website. Rather, Google advises that meta keywords are not worth your time, and they will not be used to determine search ranking positions.

So, if you have meta keywords on your website from 10+ years ago, or you or an SEO partner have added them to your website in vain, then there is no reason to keep them there. If the task of removing meta keywords from your website is labour intensive or would require a significant investment in your time, we would suggest leaving them. The time that you would spend removing them is better spent optimising your website, writing content, or acquiring new website links.

So, meta keywords – are the still worth it?

The verdict is very simple, meta keywords are not an SEO ranking factor with google.

Granted, some of the other search engines have not confirmed whether or not they use them, and they may still be a minor ranking factor; however, we would recommend investing your time elsewhere.

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