Key Words and Keywords
Posted by Mike
Confusing the Key Words
Why is there confusion about key words and what they are? I refer to content key words or terms. Perhaps the cause is the similarity perceived between the key word term for SERP and meta keywords. Possibly we (webmasters and other industry specialists) are to blame – perhaps we should have used a more accurate phrase to describe key words in content. KEY PHRASE or KEY SEARCH TERM is a more accurate identity for the idea of key words.
Key Search Term
Key Search Term perfectly describes the idea behind key words, “a group of words that a searcher will use to find information”.
The idea of using key words is producing an article ‘optimised’ for the best possible results in search engine results for an intended key term. In which case the article must be about the key phrase used, or the key term must be about the SUBJECT of the article. How Should Key Words be Used in Content extends this discussion in more detail.
Then we get meta keywords, and now things become even more confusing. SEO specialists have written extensively about meta keywords; major search engines no longer use these for indexing content, and why these same search engines stopped doing so.
Meta Keyword Misuse
In Meta Keywords Outdated and Unnecessary the author elaborates on this topic, providing a video by Matt Cutts (of Google) confirming Google’s non-use of meta keywords. Yet many webmasters (myself included) continue to use meta keywords as a matter of habit.
There is nothing wrong with using them – search engines won’t penalise you for using meta keywords or not (at least not if they are correctly used). Many WordPress “SEO optimised themes” and plugins have fields for meta keywords, so they get used. I manage content for other site owners and content authors – and the most common thing I see is a list of keywords totally irrelevant to the subject of the article.
Keywords about the website or blog as a whole – not the article. People please – if you have a website selling cats toys, and blog about cats mating habits as part of the information being published for user interest and attracting traffic – DON’T use keywords “cat toys for sale”, “cats playthings” in the post about the mating of blue Burmese cats! It won’t get your article found for “cats toys for sale”, but it just may get your article or your website considered SPAM by Google! And we all know by now how Google deals with spam content and spam sites – it gets downgraded or removed from indexing.
Consider the following – nearly every page and post on the site has the meta keywords “cats toys for sale” included – even when the article is not a page selling “cats toys”, or more importantly, a particular cat’s toy. This was one of the reasons search engines stopped using meta keywords – keyword spamming.
Diluting Required Key Word Density
Diluting key word (term) density is another possible result of keyword misuse. Yes, this may be nit-picking, but we spend hours and vast amounts of money getting our sites into good positions in SERP, why do we want to do anything that may reduce this placement, even if only by a very small amount.
Rather don’t use any keywords in meta at all – there is no need to do so. But if we do, let’s make sure they are correctly used.