There are a lot of terms used to describe keywords: meta keywords, focus keywords, target keywords and even focus keyphrases. We are seeing some confusion about these different terms from our users and we thought it would be a good idea to run through them here on the SEOPress blog.
Meta Keywords. The best known meta tag is the most useless
The Keywords meta tag was used in the 1990’s and early 2000’s to allow webmasters to add keywords to their content for search engines to index.
They were visible only in the HTML source code and looked something like this:
<meta name="keywords" content="my super keyword, another great keyword, a killer keyword" />
The problem was that it was easy to fool search engines into considering that a page was about a certain subject just by adding Keywords to it. Also, in the hope of gaining more visibility for their pages, webmasters started adding Keywords with no relation to their content just because they were popular search terms. So, in 1999, it was possible to find “Britney Spears” in the Keyword meta tags of millions of web pages that had nothing to do with popular music (for younger readers, Britney Spears was a very popular entertainer at the time. No really!)
Although useful for search engines, the misuse of this meta tag meant that it’s importance in search algorithms was gradually reduced until, in 2009, Google finally announced officially that it no longer used the keywords meta tag in web ranking. Leading other search engines to make a similar announcements.
Today, 10 years later, the Keywords meta tag is completely obsolete and of no purpose.
Focus keywords / target keywords or focus keyphrases: not metas!
Focus keywords, target keywords and focus keyphrase are synonymous and serve the same purpose over different SEO plugins. Entered on a page, post or a custom post type, they can be used to analyze your content and give you tips on how to optimize it for a specific search.
Focus keywords, target keywords, etc. do not generate a Keywords meta tag on your page. They will not be visible to search engines.
Meta Keywords were once used by search engines to rank pages. Focus keywords, target keywords and focus keyphrases have never had any direct influence on search engine results.
However, by analyzing and then improving your content based on target keywords, you can improve your ranking and get more traffic.
Some old web developers still add meta Keywords to their web sites, but then they remember that this meta tag has not been used by Google for over 10 years and say “Oops, … I did it again!”