You do not have to be a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert to know that SEO best practices are constantly changing. Techniques that were once considered reliable ways to improve security website’s organic search performance become ineffective with one small search engine algorithm change. Even worse, using that old technique could now actually work against you. This is true of meta keywords. In fact, it was true long before Google’ s Matt Cutts announced “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking” back in 2009.
So What Are Meta Keywords?
Meta Keyword practices date back to 1995 (that’s almost 25 years ago) when people were still using AltaVista and Infoseek ( probably some reading this do not even remember these, which in itself demonstrates the datedness of meta keywords). It was a time when the web was young, innocent, and relatively simple. At that time, you could add a meta tag on a page indicating that page’s main keywords.
The META Keywords tag was invisible to visitors, but visible to search engines. The keywords you used would then be used as a ranking factor. It was essentially asking the search engine directly to rank you for whatever keyword you wanted. It was simple because the web itself was not as expansive.
Well, the web became more commercial and people started to misuse the keywords element, spamming the element with a ton of popular keywords that had nothing to do with the body of the content. When that happened, search engines began ignoring it. Because of spam, the search engine could not do what it was ideologically designed to do, which was deliver most popular and valuable results.
In 2009, after Google announced it no longer used meta keywords, Yahoo and Bing also followed suit.
Bing stated in 2014:
“Today it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flatlined years ago as a booster. “
Using Meta Keywords the Wrong Way Can Hurt SEO
In the midst of all the changes, search engine spokespeople even strongly implied that using meta keywords in the wrong way could (and likely would) work against you because the changes in algorithm mean they would be seen as a spam signal rather than a ranking signal.
Focusing on a Losing Strategy Wastes the Security Industry Marketing Spend
No marketer has unlimited time or budget for the SEO budget and spending time coming up with meta keyword terms is time-consuming and costly. It is far better to spend your marketing dollar on things that deliver proven, valuable, and long-term results, such as engaging and meaningful content, a technically well-optimized platform, and optimizing title tags, and on-page keywords and keyword phrases.
Using Meta Keywords Gives Competitors Information
Just as concerning, using meta keywords basically advertises to your security industry competitors what keywords you are targeting. Since the security industry is hyper-focused, the related keywords are fewer than in other broad industries, and handing out your strategy makes it much easier for them to gain speed.
Major search engines stopped using meta keyword tags years ago, it consumes time and money and likely will work against you in a number of ways. The reality is if you are trying to rank for a keyword term that is even a little competitive, meta keywords aren’t going to help. Instead, focus on great content, a strong platform, good links and social engagement. That is what builds great rankings within the security industry. As in all things, steady work in the trenches yields great reward.
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