Keywords are the words that are used to reveal the internal structure of an author’s reasoning. While they are used primarily for rhetoric, they are also used in a strictly grammatical sense for structural composition, reasoning, and comprehension. Indeed, they are an essential part of any language.
There are many different types of keyword categories including: Conclusion, Continuation, Contrast, Emphasis, Evidence, Illustration and Sequence. Each category serves its own function, as do the keywords inside of a given category.
Working with keywords
There are two aspects to working with keywords: from the perspective of the information provider, and from the perspective of the information users (i.e. “producers” and “users”).
Information producers: For information publishers (meaning anyone providing digitally searchable content they want to be found by a given audience), there are a tremendous number of subtleties to developing a keyword framework that a) adequately describes the content, and b) connects that content to the right audience. The first mistake many publishers make is to ‘underdescribe’ their content by using a keyword that is too general to be useful. For example, to say the keyword for this essay is “keywords” would be such an ‘underdescription’ — a better keyword (really, keyword phrase) would be something like “keyword development” or “keyword definition” or “how keywords are used.” The second mistake publishers frequently make is to not put themselves in the mind of the searcher, but to instead use keywords that are relevant to them. The easy fix for this lack of perspective is simply to do the footwork: make a list of keywords that might be relevant and then verify whether or not they garner searches by checking the list on a database that collects such information and provides “suggestions” that you may never thought of (Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker and Overture are just three such services). Never make assumptions — for example, according to one of the keyword databases listed, “keyword assistance” gets zero searches per year but “keyword research” gets 50 searches per year. [Note that a very common error is the “verify” a keyword by typing it into a search engine and seeing how many web pages come back. This indicates is how many pages have that keyword in their content, not how many people are searching for that keyword, and there is no relationship between those two datum.] It is important to keep in mind the need to be flexible — there are as many ways to describe something (and develop a search query for it) as there are people with keyboards — but not too flexible. The goal is precision, and the searcher will appreciate efforts to describe precisely what your content is about if it is precisely what they are looking for.
Information users: Precision of the keyword phrase is of paramount importance to the searcher. Search engines are so powerful that they frequently return listings that ranges from exactly the user intent to completly irrelevant results. Careful consideration of exactly what the searcher wants is a prerequisite. Even more, searchers need to be familiar with ways to structure a search to get the information they want.
It is well worthwhile to investigate the advice search engines provide for successful querying. Some of the very useful tools for structuring keyword phrases include quotes, brackets, and boolean operators:
- Quotes: Placing a keyword phrase in quotes tells the search engine “Return pages/documents with these words, in any order”
- Brackets: “Return pages/documents with these words in exactly this order”
- AND: AND is used to logically connect two search queries. [Note — AND must be capitalized in the search query] “Find an instance of these two keyword phrases within 25 words of each other.” Very handy for “localizing” a search, for example: “Ethiopian restaurant AND St. Louis”.
- NOT: NOT is used to exclude pages/documents that contain two identified keyword phrases. [Note — NOT must be capitalized in the search query.] For example, if the searcher wanted information about Paris the City of Light, not Paris the celebrity, the proper query would be “Paris NOT Hilton.” Some search engines uses “-” (minus sign) instead of NOT; had this been the case the search would have been “Paris – Hilton”.
Note there are no universal syntax conventions. Different search engines implement different grammar rules for the above-mentioned productions ~ Wikipedia