There is one question about SEO which seems to be coming up in our Website reviews time and time again, so let me answer it now and be done with it. Meta keywords are useless. No search engine uses them for any real rankings. That is why by default, there is no meta keywords input field in our Yoast SEO plugin and why I never use them. The fact that “other SEO plugins do have them” isn’t a good reason for me to enable them in my plugin by default.
Let me give you the full history of the meta keywords tag’s demise. In September 2009, Google announced officially what was already true for years back then: “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking”. Matt Cutts explained it in a video:
Do Yahoo! and Bing use meta keywords?
In October of that same year, 2009, at SMX East, Yahoo! announced they no longer use the meta keywords tag anymore either. This turned out to be not entirely true, as they do index them, but they won’t help you one bit.
Bing said at one point, in a guide about how to optimize your page:
“It was abused far too much and lost most of its cachet. But there’s no need to ignore the tag. Take advantage of all legitimate opportunities to score keyword credit, even when the payoff is relatively low.”
So basically they’re encouraging you to do fill it out, even though the “credit” will be admittedly very, very low. I say: don’t do it at all. Don’t waste your time. Instead of thinking about which keywords to put in that silly meta keywords tag for 5 minutes, think about your content for 5 minutes longer. Really. It’s worth it.
But I want meta keywords!!!
If you use Yoast SEO and you really can’t live without them, go to Yoast SEO → Titles & Metas → Other tab, and enable them by checking the box:
Don’t expect me to think you’re cool though. The reality is, that if you’re trying to rank for any term that’s even only a little competitive, meta keywords won’t help. You should write engaging, meaningful content on a technically well optimized platform and get good links and social engagement. That’s what builds great rankings, meta keywords have nothing to do with it.