Bing Clarification: Meta Keywords is Spam Signal Only

Bing shocked a lot of the SEO world recently when they said that the meta keywords tag is a signal for Bing. This was surprising because it had long been assumed that all major search engine had long since ignored the meta keyword tag (and Google has always ignored it). Does this mean that we should suddenly start paying more attention to the tag to help our rankings in Bing?

As it turns out, no.

Danny Sullivan has a great article today where he contacted Bing for more clarification on the meta keywords tag and how it’s used, and learned that essentially using the tag can will not help you; it can only hurt you.

Here is the snippet of Danny’s conversation with Duane Forrester, the senior product manager for Bing who first stated that meta keywords is a signal:

It sounds like you’re saying that you see a high correlation between crummy pages and people who use the meta keywords tag with garbage – that it’s a spam signal, not a ranking signal.If that’s the case, then I’d still advise people that you don’t use it for ranking purposes (which solves all those really annoying questions above) but you might use it as a spam signal and that people simply shouldn’t use it.

And his response was:

Yeah, you’re pretty much bang on Danny. In fact, it’s not like we’re actively trying to encourage folks to start using the tag. And you’re right – the scenario I describe is more of a spam signal, which ultimately leads to rankings (or not, as the case may be).

In other words… using the meta keywords tag will not help your rankings. Google ignores it, and even with Bing it’s not a ranking signal. It is, however, a spam signal and having too many keywords or having keywords that aren’t appropriate to your page can result in raising a spam flag and potentially hurting your site.

Odds are that meta keyword stuffing alone isn’t enough to get you a penalty — instead it’s just one warning sign. But why take the chance? Continue to ignore the meta keywords tag.