Meta keywords and meta description (meta tags) are two elements that most search engines use to rank pages. Others include page title, domain name, content, alt tags, h1 and h2 headers, and DMOZ listings, among others. Google apparently doesn’t even use keywords in its algorithm anymore.
Browsers to Web sites don’t actually see the meta keywords and meta description. Though they reside in the code, much like the web ‘page title’ and web ‘content’, they are not displayed within a web page or in the browser title bar (the meta description can sometimes be found in search engine results). They are, however, very important and should not be overlooked.
Like the other key areas of search engine marketing, page title and content, the keywords you place in the meta tags, both meta keywords and description, should be selected from a list you have drawn up from various sources (see ‘Search words‘).
Your meta keywords should also be checked on a regular basis to identify any modifications which would improve them. Site stats should help, in part, in this process but you also need to ensure that you are aware of the keywords people are typing in to search engines (see Word Tracker, Overture Suggestion Tool and Google Adwords Selection Tool) and of what your competitors (those with high rankings, obviously) are using on their Web site.
Top tips follow in Part 2