Not to beat a dead horse or anything, as this horse seems to have been killed years ago, but the meta keyword tag debate still snorts and flaps its tail from time to time, meaning we'll need to whap it at least once more.
Back in 2002, Danny Sullivan pronounced the meta keyword tag dead, as only a couple of search engines were influenced at all. More importantly, Google ignored them altogether. Title tags and description tags continue to be an important part of webpage setup as they help search engines decide how to categorize the site.
But as far back as 1997, meta keyword tags fell to the manipulative hands of keyword spammers, stuffing the tags with as many high-yield words as possible. The search engines that cared put keyword tags on the black list.
All in all, SEO experts considered the keyword tag a frustrating exercise in futility. After all, why bother if search engine spiders ignore them?
But if we thought the horse was dead, debates wouldn't continue to pop up. Or maybe its just a ploy to keep writers in business :-).
Over at Pandia, Richard Ball, founder of Apogee Web Consulting and former AOL software developer, treats us to an article not just decrying the use of keyword tags, but warning developers of the risks associated with them. Ball says the primary beneficiary of keyword tags is your competition, and there is a chance you'll be penalized by Google and others.
"There is more risk than reward in using the meta keywords tag because your competitors can view the meta keywords tag and can steal your keywords. What do I mean by "steal" your keywords? By placing the meta keywords tag on a page, you are, in effect, giving your competitors a list of your important keywords," Ball said.
So what have we learned from the dead horse? Basically, he stinks. And keep keywords where keywords belong-in the body of your webpage where search engine spiders will look for them.