What is the Meta Keywords Tag?

The meta keywords tag is a piece of code placed in the head element of an HTML document of a page that allows you to list the keywords you'd like to target.

A typical meta keywords tag:

<meta name="keywords" content="HTML,CSS,XML,JavaScript">

A long time ago when the internet and SEO were just in their beginning, this tag factored heavily into ranking decisions for search engines. Today, most search engines such as Google do not use the meta keywords tag as a ranking factor, though there are some search engines that still use them.

What Does "Meta Keywords Too Long" Mean?

Meta keyword tags that are over 150 characters long are regarded as being too long.

Why It's Important

While for most search engines it's debatable as to whether or not you should include a meta keywords tag at all, one thing is reasonably clear: If you decide to have meta keywords on your page, you'll want to stay away from keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords on your page to try to gain an advantage in the rankings. For example:

<meta name="keywords" content="smartphone, smartfone, smartphone 4g, smartphone android, celular dual chip, smartphone 5, smartphone dual chip, smartphone 4, dual chip, smartphone 3g, smart celular, smartphone vivo, smartphone dual, smartphone gps, novo smartphone, best smartphone deals, unlocked smartphones, prepaid smartphones, cheap smartphones, smartphones for sale, prepaid smartphone, smartphone deals, smart mobile phones, gps smartphone, smartphone samsung, latest smartphones, smartphone apple, smart fone, 5 inch smartphone, smartphone price, dual sim smartphone, mini smartphone, smartphone galaxy, windows smartphone, buy smartphone, apple smartphone, android smartphone, smartphone mini, smartphone huawei, smartphone dual sim">

While this technique may have been effective at one time, it is now easily detectable by search engines and can hurt your rankings. Therefore, by keeping the number of keywords and the character count in the meta keywords tag low, you can avoid penalties for keyword stuffing.

How To Fix It

If you're optimizing for a search engine that does not use the meta keywords tag (Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others), it may be easiest and most effective to simply remove the meta keywords tag from the affected pages, since this tag will not help you, and can only hurt you.

However, if you're optimizing for a search engine that does factor in the meta keywords tag (most notably, Baidu), you'll want to rewrite the meta keywords tag for each affected URL, keeping in mind the guidelines listed below.

Guidelines for Writing an Effective Meta Keywords Tag

  • Only include the top 3-4 keywords you're targeting on the page. (Best practices say not to target more than 3 keywords per URL anyway).

  • List each keyword (or keyword phrase) descending by importance, comma-separated.

  • The meta keywords tag should be no more than 100 characters long.

  • Avoid keyword stuffing and duplicating the same keyword.

  • Each meta keywords tag should be unique. No URLs should have the same meta keywords value.

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