In 2017 should I be using meta keywords?

It’s 2017 and the formerly mandatory SEO technique of using the “meta keywords” directive in your HTML header to identify what your page is about, is not just no longer a recommended practice, but is even maligned and sneered upon by ‘those in the know’, the ‘SEO elite experts’.

As usual, it’s impossible to know for sure what Google’s algorithms are doing with the information, but you can confident that one or both of these is true: Google now just ignores the keywords directive completely (due to abuse by spammy ‘keyword stuffing’ based sites), or else they do process them but as long as they are truly reflective of the content you have then there won’t be any penalty or boost gained from using it. So, no reason not to use it really especially given how little effort it entails.

But is there any advantage to using it? We say yes there is, even in 2017, not least because while Google’s content parsing algorithms are highly sophisticated, they are not the only game in town – Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo and Baidu are all popular search engines that use much more simpler indexing algorithms that still work like Google did 5 or 10 years ago, and without the braintrust that Google has, are unlikely to change their systems any time soon. But also dozens of other systems not directly related to search, such as Pinterest, Pocket and Digg, all of which can have a positive effect on your traffic, all still use the meta keywords as a simple way to understand what a site is about.

Anyway, you should still be tagging your content using whatever tagging tools your CMS uses – not least because this is how your own CMS drives it’s search function and it’s related content function.

Most CMS will have an option (probably one that’s on by default) to insert those same tags into your meta keywords so just make sure that option is turned on, and make sure to tag all of your content.

Make sure to check out our full guide to SEO section for more tips.