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Keyword Meta Tag

The keyword meta tag is perhaps the most abused and misunderstood HTML tag.

Somewhere along the line it became a way to tell the search engines where to index a site. Like most good things, it quickly became a way to scam the search engines and misindex sites. For a while virtually everyone had s e x, pretty girls, and a myriad of other highly searched words and phrases in their keyword meta tag.

Since those rough and rowdy early days, things have settled down. And putting words and phrases that are unrelated to a webpage in that page's keyword meta tag are often ignored and can even get a page banned by the search engines.

Does the Keyword Meta Tag Matter Anymore?

Ask a bunch of webmasters and search engine optimization experts and you will most likely get a variety of answers to this question. The most honest answer is that no one truly knows how much of what is put in a keyword meta tag influences the search engines.

While some will tell you not to bother with a keywords meta tag, I and many others believe the potential value exceeds the amount of time it takes to make a keyword tag.

Keyword Meta Tag Format

The HTML code for the keyword meta tag is quite simple:

<meta name="keywords" content="keyword1, keyword phrase 1, keyword3, keyword phrase 2" />

Be sure to enclose the list of keywords in quotations and to put a comma between each keyword and keyword phrase.

Keyword Tag & Search Engine Optimization

The following list are some suggestions and guidelines to creating your keyword list for your keyword meta tag:

  • Do not list words that do not appear on the webpage - the search engines frown on this and it could even get a site banned for black hat search engine manipulation.
  • Do not keyword stuff - Keyword stuffing is where the same word or phrase is repeated numerous times in the hopes to get listed higher for that word or phrase. This has the potential to harm your site's ranking and may also get you banned.
  • Less is more - The fewer words and phrases you lose, the more weight each one may be given.

The Last Word on the Keyword Meta Tag

Here's how I tell new webmasters to determine what words and phrases to put in their keyword meta tags...

Pretend your webpage were in a book, what words and phrases should be in the index to help a reader find that page...those words and phrases are your keywords.

Did you miss Part I on HTML Meta Tags?

HTML Meta Tags - Learn about the HTML Meta Tags Content Type, Description and Author

Or Part II on HTML Meta Tags?

Robot Exclusion Standard - learn how to communicate directly with the search engines.

Additional Information on Meta Tags

Several visitors to Help For Web Beginners have submitted follow-up questions on this article.

Be sure to visit Meta Tag FAQs to see their questions and our answers.

About the Author

HelpForWebBeginners.com is a website dedicated to providing free, easy to understand, online How To's for true web beginners. While the materials are not free or available for reprints, they are offered freely for individual use. Please use the contact page to let Michele know if this tutorial has been helpful or if there are any other beginner web programming related tutorials you would like to see.