A word or collection of words that are used to index webpages within search engines, or the word(s) a user enters into a search engine to find specific information.
To search for a specific content using a search engine, you type a keyword or keywords into the search box that describe what you are looking for, and the search engine looks for the best match within its indexed pages.
When you create a webpage, keywords naturally exist within the page, whether you intend them to or not. For instance, if you are writing about your favorite pet, chances are “dog”, “brown dog”, “big dog”, or similar terms will appear frequently throughout the page. When a search engine indexes your page, these frequently occurring terms will be used as keywords. You can also assign specific keywords to your page using meta tags. When planning your keywords, it’s a good idea to think about what terms someone would search for in order to find your webpage. While someone might search for other people who love “big dogs”, chances are they wouldn’t search for your dog’s name…so “Spike” would not make a very good keyword.
Likewise, when you search for something on the internet, it’s important to be specific with your keywords. Searching for “dogs” will certainly give you lots of results (hundreds of millions of pages!), but it may be hard to find anything specific. It’s better to narrow your search in order to improve the relevancy of your results. “Big friendly dogs” would be a better keyword, or even “Golden Retriever.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make sure search engines pick out the right keywords for my site?
The most important thing you can do when creating a webpage is to make great content. Don’t worry about keywords right away, and don’t try to force them in. Search engines have become better at identifying forced keywords, so it may not help. Even if it does, your readers won’t appreciate it, and they might not come back. Instead, look for places to naturally insert specific keyword. For instance, if you’re writing about local real estate, look for ways to attach the name of your city or town. Instead of saying “the local real estate market” say “the Denver real estate market.” The more specific you can be, the more likely someone looking for a page just like yours will find it.
It’s also a good idea to add keywords to your metatags, include them in your page title, and use headlines within your page that include your keywords. There are plenty of services you can use to determine popular keywords or help you analyze your own site to improve your keyword usage. Some are available as online services, others can be installed as plugins for your web creator or content management system. A web search for “SEO optimization” is a great place to start.