Many “best practices” documents now suggest that you can—and possibly should—avoid use of the keywords metatag within your HTML. All but a few of the most common, publicly available search engines either ignore the keywords metatag or give it very little weight within their algorithms.

However, within the realm of intranet search, the keywords metatag often plays a significant role in revealing your pages’ purpose so your search engine can match your page to a searcher’s intent. Review and follow these steps to optimize your pages’ keywords metatag to improve search ranking:

  • Determine the most relevant keywords for your page. As you might expect, the actual keywords listed within the keywords metatag matter. A lot. Because of this, take the time to ensure the keywords you’re placing within the metatag best reflect the content on each and every page you’re responsible for. Don’t simply copy and paste the same keywords into every single page, as that will confuse your search engine as to which page represents the right answer for a given searcher’s query. Instead, review the tips listed on “How Do I Know What Keywords Searchers Use?” for guidance on selecting the best possible set of keywords to help your search engine understand your page content in more detail.
  • Use as distinct a set of keywords as possible for each page. While it’s certainly possible that multiple pages you manage will share some keywords—for instance, a set of pages all related to a specific product—it’s very unlikely that every keyword within your overall set applies equally to each page. For example, if your pages all provide information about a given product your company sells, ensure that keywords like “features,” “dimensions,” “pricing,” “payment terms,” and “shipping” only appear within the keyword metatag of pages that include that information (and, if all of that appears on a single page, evaluate whether your searchers might be better served by separating that information into more targeted pages). Try to craft a distinct grouping of keywords for each page to clearly indicate the page’s purpose and to help the search engine assess each page distinctly.
  • Don’t overdo it. It’s tempting to just dump in everything but the kitchen sink. Don’t. If you list dozens of keywords, you are diluting the search engine’s understanding of what your page is actually about. Think carefully about the few keywords that really matter for this page–the words that really should find this page, as opposed to every other page. Your goal isn’t to have searchers find the wrong page, so don’t treat the keywords tag as a way to attract every searcher. Just put in the right words that this page is the perfect answer for.

The keywords metatag usually plays a valuable role helping intranet search engines determine the pages that best match your searchers’ intent. Take the time to establish a distinct, relevant set of keywords within the metatag of each page you manage to help your search engine do its job—and to help your searchers get on with theirs.

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