HTML Meta Keywords

Meta elements are HTML or XHTML elements that provide the metadata about the web page. The metadata can specify the page description, keywords, and other information that are not visible on the page you see in the browser. They do not influence the outline of the page visible to the users, but instead, the metadata are used to provide additional information about the page. Consequently, meta elements are used by search engines to help while searching for the information on the Internet. They categorize the pages by using meta elements and those elements also influence the way how the pages are displayed in the search engines.

This is why marketers have been focused on using the meta elements when it comes to good web positioning, achieving the highest ranking on search engines as possible. This field of research, known as search engine optimization (SEO) has been greatly developed during 1990s. As soon as it was noticed how search engines relied on the meta data when it comes to classification on the web, marketers have started developing strategies in order to influence the classification through meta elements.

Meta elements can be expressed via several attributes and one of those are HTML meta keywords.

Meta keywords have been popularized during the middle of 1990s and have became one of the most used meta elements. They were originally created to help you describe your web page using some keywords that you wanted your page to be connected to. In this way, the search engine would connect your keywords and the words that are searched for in the search engine in order to display the best possible results for the users. This was a good way to identify your website and use additional words (apart from those in the title) to help users find you using those words.

How to write meta keywords?

Keywords are placed in the head of the HTML file of your page. Keywords should be separated by commas and you should not repeat the phrases you have entered as keywords. In addition, you should not use any other punctuation marks except for commas.


In order to understand how the keywords are used, let’s look what does a search engine do when you enter the keywords in your HTML file.

  • Indexing

This is a part where a search engine reads your HTML page and makes a copy of it. While doing this, it is obvious that the search engine will read your HTML page together with the keywords that are included in the HTML page of your website page.

  • Retrieval

In this part a search engine is trying to find a document that is relevant for a term that has been searched for. When the user searches for a specific term in a search engine, that search engine is trying to retrieve some of the documents that have been previously scanned and that match with the specific term.

  • Ranking

This is the part where a search engine looks at the scanned pages and it puts them in the order according to its algorithm. The goal is to display the pages according to the relevance, thus placing the most relevant pages at the top where they are clearly visible to the user.

However, it was noticed that keywords increasingly started to be used in spammy context, so the users would sometimes see the page that had nothing to do with the term they were searching for on the Internet. The widespread use of the keywords and misusage affected most of the search engines to disregard this meta element when sorting and ranking the pages in the search engine.

This is way most of the search engines, among which the most popular one – Google, have announced that they are no longer using keywords as a criteria for relevance when displaying the results in the search engine. Most of the search engines are said to have adopted more complex algorithms in their search engines in order to prevent spammy content and to avoid any manipulation using meta elements.

Consequently the question has been often raised what is the relevance of HTML meta keywords nowadays and should they be used to improve general web positioning.

Most of the experts say that there is no need for spending too much time on meta keywords since they are completely ignored by most of the search engines. Instead, one should focus on other meta elements such as meta description, title, content type. Using these meta elements you can help a search engine to recognize the information more easily and to connect your page with the relevant search entries.

Google itself offer some useful description on how to use meta tags in order to provide search engine with more information. They also say that the titles and descriptions are crucial for providing relevant information and you can improve the quality of those, and consequently your Internet representation, by following some of the guidelines they have enlisted. In the additional description on how to use descriptive page titles they have included a paragraph on keywords.

“Avoid keyword stuffing. It’s sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the title, but there’s no reason to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. A title like “Foobar, foo bar, foobars, foo bars” doesn’t help the user, and this kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look spammy to Google and to users.”


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