When it comes to onsite SEO, competent online marketing professionals look to dot every “I” and cross every “T.” But doing a thorough onsite SEO job no longer requires filling out the keyword tags — and doing so might even hurt your client.
I’ll admit it: I was a late adopter of finally abandoning the keyword tag.
In spite of the fact that Google had long proclaimed the keyword meta data as an obsolete ranking factor, I still dutifully filled out between five and ten keywords on each page I was optimizing, assuming that, in spite of what Google may tell us, there’s always a chance that they aren’t telling us the whole truth. It stands to reason that the Googlebot still reads and detects the keyword tags — maybe Google sought to stop webmasters from stuffing the keyword tags by telling them that they are no long ranking factors?
Even if Google was telling the total truth, I still filled them out because some of the lesser-travelled search engines were still reading them. But once Bing gave up on keyword tags, there really was no longer any true SEO value for filling them out.
Webmasters and SEO’s might say, “sure, keyword tags don’t mean anything anymore — but at least it s way to show your client what a thorough job you’ve done.” That to me is a disingenuous reason for wasting your time on keyword tags, and in point of fact, filling in keyword tags might actually hurt your clients search engine visibility.
Have you ever done competitor research? If so, have you ever used a meta tag analyzer to analyze the title, description, and keyword tags of a competitor’s website? If so then you’ve just demonstrated to yourself why filling out keyword tags can be damaging to the website you are SEO’ing: you’re giving your competitors a sneak peak into your keyword plan.
A good keyword tag always included five to ten keywords that pertained directly to the one or two primary keywords for any given webpage. Thus, all of the permutations for that keyword search would be publicly visible for anyone else to scan and replicate.
Many people feel that google moved away from using the keyword tag as a ranking factor because webmasters were stuffing them with hundreds of keyword phrases. In truth, however, keyword tags also may have been leading to a homogenizing of keyword tags among competitors. In this way, keyword competition was becoming too narrow and vertical.
The next time you’re tempted to fill out all of the keyword tags, restrain yourself. Remember that, once you drop in those keywords, they will be visible to all of your competitors.