Ditch your meta keywords
One of my clients is currently optimizing their website for search engines. As part of the process I met with a rep from an SEO firm, who suggested ways the website design could be tweaked to be as friendly as possible to search engines. Most of the ground he covered was not new to me, but one tip was an eye opener: he advised me to entirely remove the meta keywords tags from the website.
I’ve known for a long time that meta keywords do nothing to help a site’s ranking in Google, as the keywords selected by a webmaster might be misleading or downright false. What I didn’t realize is that Google and other search engines may in fact penalize sites that they believe are cheating the system with their meta keywords. For instance, a website that specifies meta keywords that don’t actually appear on the page may in fact have their ranking decreased.
This is significant if you are in the habit of specifying the same meta keywords for every page on a site, perhaps as a global include. Or maybe you forget to update the keywords whenever a webpage changes, and your keywords no longer match the on-page content. While these scenarios may seem harmless enough, if search engines truly do penalize sites for sloppy meta keywords, then you are much better off to ditch the keywords altogether.
Simply put, meta keywords can never help your search engine ranking, only hurt it.
Note: It is important to make a distinction between meta keyword tags and meta description tags. Google uses the meta description tag to display within its search result listings, so it is still very useful to provide potential visitors with a succinct description of a page’s content, and a unique meta description should be included on every page of a site.