Meta keywords, focus keywords, target keywords, focus keyphrase demystified!

Author Benjamin Denis
Posted on
| 5 Comments on Meta keywords, focus keywords, target keywords, focus keyphrase demystified!
Meta keywords, focus keywords, target keywords, focus keyphrase demystified!

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!”

By Benjamin Denis

CEO of SEOPress. 12 years of experience with WordPress. Founder of WP Admin UI & WP Cloudy plugins. Co-organizer of WP BootCamp.

  1. Daniel

    It is not always everything only about the search engines. Meta keywords may be ignored by search engines, but they are pulled by several social bookmarking services. When sharing the URL, the meta keywords will automatially show as tags in the social bookmark – which of course is a great place to have your keywords at. So, yes, meta keywords have less meaning today, but no, they are not obsolete and of no purpose.

    1. Benjamin Denis

      Hello, may I know which tools use meta keywords please?

      1. Lisa

        I’m using WordPress, Elementor and SEOPress free version. The error on my schema is “None of your target keywords were found in Heading 1 (H1)”.

  2. Lisa

    Can you help me fix an error message “None of your target keywords were found in Heading 1 (H1)” ?

    1. Benjamin Denis

      Hi Lisa, please open a support ticket from your customer area if you’re a PRO user. If not, please open a topic on repository forum. Thank you for understanding!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.