A keyword, in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page. Keywords are intended to act as shortcuts that sum up an entire page. Keywords form part of a Web page’s metadata and help search engines match a page to with an appropriate search query.
The role of keywords was once very central to the function of search engines. Search engines could crawl sites and, if the keywords were accurate, serve those sites up as search results. However, people began abusing the keyword metadata in an attempt to show up higher in searches, and even to rank in completely unrelated searches. For this reason, the importance of keywords in search engine optimization has been greatly reduced. Keywords are arguably still an important factor, but they are not the only factor in SEO.
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