Recurring question in the wp.com forum: How do I add meta tags (meaning: the keywords meta tag) in my blog?
Short answer: You don’t. You cannot, and you needn’t.
If you think you should, then you’ve simply read or heard “SEO” advice that is both irrelevant and mistaken.
a) The keywords meta tag would have to be added in the underlying files of your blog. In wp.com blogs you don’t have access to those files.
b) The keywords meta tag could be, and was, abused. So most search engines pay no attention to it (some never did, and some used to but don’t anymore).
c) The best way to provide search engines with information about your blog is a sitemap, and Google recommends the XML protocol. WordPress.com automatically generates an XML sitemap for your website.
All WordPress.com blogs have XML sitemaps built-in. They just work. You don’t need to verify with Webmaster Tools for Google to use your sitemap.
[Staff reply, wordpress.com forum]
WordPress.com blogs are as SEO-friendly as it gets:
WP automatically solves a ton
of SEO issues.
WP takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of SEO.
[Matt Cutts, Google]
All you have to do is follow the advice given by our expert forum volunteers thesacredpath and raincoaster:
Each time you publish a post, wordpress pings all the major search engines and services, so really all you need to do is keep posting. [...] One of the great things about wordpress.COM is that they take care of all search engine stuff for us and that allows us to spend our time blogging instead of dealing with all the technical issues.
[thesacredpath, wordpress.com forum]
WordPress.COM is designed under the hood to give you the best search engine optimization there is really and you don’t have to do anything more than write good posts, post regularly and properly categorize and/or tag your posts.
[thesacredpath, wordpress.com forum]
The single best way to add keywords to your blog (other than tags and categories as previously mentioned) is in the content. Use them in your titles. Use them in your filenames for uploaded images. Use them in your Alt text.
[raincoaster, wordpress.com forum]
The Director of Research at Google, Monika Henziger, was quoted (in 2002) as saying, “Currently we don’t trust metadata because we are afraid of being manipulated.”
[From Meta element: Academic studies]
Google does not use the keywords meta tag in our web search.
To this day, you still see courts mistakenly believe that meta tags occupy a pivotal role in search rankings. We wanted to debunk that misconception, at least as it regards to Google. Google uses over two hundred signals in our web search rankings, but the keywords meta tag is not currently one of them, and I don’t believe it will be.
I hope this clarifies that the keywords meta tag is not something that you need to worry about, or at least not in Google.
[From Google doesn’t use the keywords meta tag in web search]
Q: Does Google ever use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking?
A: In a word, no. [...] Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.
Q: Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?
A: About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.
[From Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking]
At one point in time the keywords tag had an impact on a web site’s position within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). Now the keywords tag has little impact on where a site will appear in the search results. When search engine first started determining the relevancy of a site they placed a larger emphasis on these tags. [But s]oon every webmaster used them and oftentimes overused these tags and therefore the search engine placed less importance on them.
[From The Importance of Keywords Meta Tag in SEO]
The keywords attribute was popularized by search engines such as Infoseek and AltaVista in 1995, and its popularity quickly grew until it became one of the most commonly used meta elements. By late 1997, however, search engine providers realized that information stored in meta elements, especially the keywords attribute, was often unreliable and misleading, and at worst, used to draw users into spam sites. (Unscrupulous webmasters could easily place false keywords into their meta elements in order to draw people to their site.)
Search engines began dropping support for metadata provided by the meta element in 1998, and by the early 2000s, most search engines had veered completely away from reliance on meta elements.
Major search engine robots are more likely to quantify such extant factors as the volume of incoming links from related websites, quantity and quality of content, technical precision of source code, spelling, functional v. broken hyperlinks, volume and consistency of searches and/or viewer traffic, time within website, page views, revisits, click-throughs, technical user-features, uniqueness, redundancy, relevance, advertising revenue yield, freshness, geography, language and other intrinsic characteristics.
[From Meta element: used in search engine optimization]
The first major crawler-based search engines to use the meta keywords tag were Infoseek and AltaVista. It’s unclear which one provided support first, but both were offering it in early 1996. When Inktomi launched in mid-1996 through the HotBot search engine, it also provided support for the tag. Lycos did the same in mid-1997, taking support up to four out of the seven major crawlers at the time (Excite, WebCrawler and Northern Light did not provide support).
The ascendancy of the tag did not last after 1997. Experience with the tag has showed it to be a spam magnet. Some web site owners would insert misleading words about their pages or use excessive repetition of words in hopes of tricking the crawlers about relevancy. For this reason, Excite (which also owned WebCrawler) resisted added support. Lycos quietly dropped its support of the tag in 1998, and newer search engines such as Google and FAST never added support at all.
After Infoseek (Go.com) closed in 2000, the meta keywords tag was left with only two major supporters: AltaVista and Inktomi. Now Inktomi remains the only one, with AltaVista having dropped its support in July, the company says.
“In the past we have indexed the meta keywords tag but have found that the high incidence of keyword repetition and spam made it an unreliable indication of site content and quality. We do continue to look at this issue, and may re-include them if the perceived quality improves over time,” said Jon Glick, AltaVista’s director of internet search.
As for Inktomi, the search engine has no immediate plans to follow AltaVista’s lead:
“The meta keywords value is just one of many factors in our ranking equation, and we’ve never given too much weight to it. That said, we will continue to use it as long as our relevance modeling shows that it adds value,” said Ken Norton, director of product marketing for Inktomi’s web search division.
[From Death Of A Meta Tag]
If there’s anything I particularly hate when it comes to SEO, it’s the meta keywords tag. I so wish it had never been invented. It’s practically useless, yet people still obsess over it.
Infoseek (later Go.com, these days no longer crawling the web) and AltaVista (now owned and powered by Yahoo) offered support for the meta keywords tag in 1996. If you looked at their help files at the time, they encouraged site owners to use the tag. Inktomi (now owned by Yahoo) also provided support when it began operations later in 1996, and Lycos (no longer crawling the web) added support in 1997.
That year — 1997 — was the last year that the meta keywords tag enjoyed support among the majority of major crawlers out there (4 out of 7 – Excite, WebCrawler and Northern Light, also crawling the web that year, did not support it).
When new search engines emerged in 1998, such as Google and FAST, they didn’t support the tag. The reason was simple. By that time, search engines had learned that some webmasters would “stuff” the same word over and over into the meta keywords tag, as a way of trying to rank better. At the time, search engines didn’t rely so heavily on link analysis, so page stuffing like this was more effective. Alternatively, some site owners would insert words that they weren’t relevant for.
In July 2002, AltaVista dropped its support of the tag. That left Inktomi as the only major crawler still supporting it, causing me to somewhat famously in the SEO world to declare the tag dead, since it was no longer a major ranking factor for even Inktomi.
[From Meta Keywords Tag 101]