The Coffey Blog

3 reasons you don't need meta keywords for good hospital SEO

Posted on: Monday, July 11, 2016

Jean Dion, Writer/Editor

Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are always changing. Techniques that are considered surefire ways to improve your hospital's organic search performance can be rendered useless with one search engine algorithm change. And sometimes strategies that were considered vital can fall so far out of favor that using them can actually damage your hospital website's search performance.

Both of these scenarios are in play when it comes to meta keywords.

The case against meta keywords in hospital SEO

The meta keywords tag is placed in page code, and in the early 1990s, that tag was important. Search engines looked for close matches between the terms people typed during a search and the meta keyword tags on web pages. When search terms and keyword tags were a perfect match, the search engine knew just what page to serve.

As search engines have gotten more sophisticated, meta keywords have grown less and less valuable.

Here are three reasons you should stop using meta keywords:

1. Meta keywords won't help your hospital's website rank better. Google does not use meta keywords to rank pages, and they have not done so since at least 2009. Bing does not use meta keywords to rank pages either. If these big players don't use meta keywords, it's clear including them in your page won't help boost your rank in the vast majority of searches.

2. Meta keywords could hurt the performance of your healthcare content. Meta keyword SEO tags were gifts to spammers. A spammer could type in a ton of keywords in that tag, regardless of what was in the body copy, and snap! That page would perform beautifully in search. Algorithm developers figured this out. Now there's some evidence that search engine algorithms, especially Bing's, use a stuffed meta keywords tag as a spam signal. Search engines tend to skip over spammy sites when they're deciding what pages to display.

3. Focusing on a losing technique wastes your valuable SEO time. No healthcare marketer has unlimited time or budget to spend on SEO. Coming up with terms to put in a meta keywords tag is time-consuming. Those are minutes better spent on tasks with the proven ability to help you, such as optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions, putting alt tags on images, and including the right keyword phrases in the text on each page.

Keeping up with hospital SEO best practices

If you find it hard to keep track of the ever-changing algorithms of Google, Bing and other search engines, you're not alone. And you don't have to find the solution alone, either.

At Coffey, we have an entire team devoted to following SEO best practices. We can help you to understand what strategies to use, what to ditch and what to watch. And we can explain your options in ways that are clear and simple—and that you can explain to your C-suite. To find out more or discuss scheduling an SEO audit of your website, call 888.805.9101 or email us.

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