I shall quote this only once (possibly):
“We [Google] don’t use the meta keywords tag” ~ Matt Cutts
(See post: SEO Myths and Misconceptions That Irk Matt Cutts)
We don’t really have to trust Matt on this because we can easily deduce it for ourselves. Obviously Google will use the most reliable indicators. Which do you think is more reliable:
- Google’s identification and ranking by prominence, context, location (etc etc) of keywords from visible content and backlinks – which are visible, mostly bang up to date, and relatively hard to fake, or
- a hidden element that is easily faked, and which in order to be accurate requires a human to have accurately distilled the main keywords from the content and deliberately placed them in a tag that a lot of website authors probably don’t know about or value.
So let’s forget about meta keywords tag. Let’s not forget about meta description or title though. They do matter. However, thank you to Matt for spelling it out!