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Meta Keywords: How a Meta Keyword Plays a Small but Important Role in Search Engine Marketing

By definition, Meta Keywords, an attribute of meta tags, are a list of comma-separated words included in the HTML of a Web page that describe the topic of that page. Though they have been devalued over the years, meta keywords may still offer some benefits, more-so with second-tier search engines like Yahoo! and MSN, and potentially even when Google evaluates landing page relevancy for Quality Score. Every little bit helps in the competitive sphere of search engine marketing; meta keywords are just another little thing you can do to try to stay ahead of the competition and get your website seen by more people.

Ensuring your meta keywords are relevant to each page is crucial for their success, and finding relevant keywords can be a time-consuming exercise that includes reading and evaluating each webpage, and identifying specific meta tags in each instance. However, with new Meta Keyword Generation Tools from WordStream, it's easier than ever to search engine optimize your site content with unique and relevant meta keywords.

Meta keyword example

Should I Use Meta Keywords?

When search engines first emerged in the 90s, meta keywords were one of the primary components used by search engines to categorize and rank websites. As website developers realized this, many started "stuffing" meta keywords with popular search words and phrases, diluting their accuracy. As a result, search engines altered their algorithms to put less emphasis on meta keywords for SEO, but it's unclear if they were removed from the algorithm entirely. MSN and Yahoo! may put more emphasis on meta keywords, but Google may no longer index them. However, even if you're not actively running paid campaigns on MSN or Yahoo!, you still want your website to display in organic results. Further, meta keywords may still be a factor in Google's Quality Score ranking.

Search engines' ranking algorithms are kept top secret in order to deter people from gaming the system, which explains why none have explicitly said that they examine meta keywords. Nor, though, have any search engines said that they do not. Reasons for using meta keywords include:

  • Improve Rank: Meta keywords may improve rank in second-tier search engines, such as MSN and Yahoo!
  • Aid Quality Score: Google could consider meta keywords when calculating landing page relevancy for Quality Score.
  • Assist with Organization: Search engines aside, the simple act of taking a moment to categorize the contents of a webpage by selecting a group of keywords helps you focus the message of the page, which will likely result in better, search-optimized copy.
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  • Broaden keyword selection with the AdWords Grader

    SEM Pro surveyed search engine marketers and asked how often they use meta keywords. While not quite 70% said "always," not a single respondent replied "seldom" or "never." At the end of the day, optimizing for relevant meta keywords can help your search engine marketing efforts, so why not use them?

    Incorporating Meta Keywords

    Perhaps most importantly, meta keywords should always be relevant to the webpage (whether creating them by hand or using SEO software). In order to maintain relevance, 10-15 meta keywords are usually an appropriate amount. When using meta keywords, you should also consider:

    • Common Misspellings: This may indicate to search engines that your page is relevant to the (misspelled) search query, without your having to include the misspelling in your webpage copy.
    • Including Long Tail Keywords: Don't forget about keyword variations and plurals of the webpage's topic, as well as other keywords that make up your long tail of search.
    • Referring to Actual Searches: Instead of making up keywords that you think are relevant, refer to your search data to see how people are talking about your business. WordStream's Keyword Suggestion Tool is a great resource for both popular and new keyword queries.

    Keeping these meta keyword optimization best practices and tips in mind, you can now set off to start selecting, adding and for meta keywords on your webpages.

    Generating Meta Keywords

    Gone are the days of brainstorming keywords or ranking their popularity on an Excel spreadsheet--WordStream is the ultimate meta keyword generator and analyzer! WordStream assists with your meta keywords strategy in multiple ways, for example:

    • Meta Keyword Generator: Simply by signing up for a Free Trial, you have access to potentially millions of keywords from various sources. Parse your website's log files with our Free Parser, upload them manually from your records, or import keywords from a third-party keyword analytics tool.
    • Keyword Research: Once you have millions of keywords, WordStream ranks them by popularity and relevance to your website - keyword research makes identifying the most important keywords so easy!
    • Keyword Grouping: WordStream's intelligent Keyword Grouper groups together relevant, important and unique keywords--simply query your keyword database and group together keywords that are relevant to the page you're writing, then copy the keywords in the resulting group and paste them into the meta keywords field of your Web pages.

    As shown below, WordStream will automatically group together your relevant keywords--adding meta keywords to your website is as simple as copy and paste.

    Meta keyword research

    Let's assume you're creating a webpage offering horseback riding lessons. In your webpage copy, you'll want to stay consistent with one spelling of "horseback," but including "horse back" in the meta keywords tag may help your site when someone searches for "horse back riding." The premise is the same for topics from horseback riding to how to market a product WordStream collects and analyzes your data, then groups keywords together by relevance, creating a perfect guide for meta keywords.

    Summarizing Meta Keywords

    In conclusion, meta keywords should play some role in your overall search engine marketing campaign. Considering the competition or keyword competitiveness in the space of search engine marketing, it's wise to use any available means to step ahead of your rivals. WordStream's keyword grouping tool is perfect for selecting meta keywords to include on your website pages, especially because they include common misspellings and keyword plurals. In addition, WordStream's Keyword Discovery Tool keeps your keyword list dynamic, consistently adding long tail keywords and providing new ideas for both meta keywords and PPC campaigns. Finding appropriate meta keywords isn't the long, repetitive task it used to be!

    Generate relevant meta keywords for your web pages and improve your search engine marketing results by trying WordStream FREE today!

    meta keyword best practices

 
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