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Determining Keywords for Web Documents

When determining keywords for web documents, keep your users in mind. The terms you select should adequately represent the appropriate content and relationships in your document. Remember, keywords guide the user to your documents, and unlike with printed materials, users won't have any visual, written prompts to jar their memory or provide them with additional search terms they may have overlooked or forgotten. It is also recommended that web developers review AltaVista's Search help to understand how Simple and Advanced queries are conducted as well as review the document How AltaVista Ranks Search Results. Web developers can identify additional keywords for their documents by using the META tag.

Consider the following when determining keywords:

  • What experience does the user have with your topic?
  • What term(s) is the user most likely to use?
  • What is your user's vocabulary, and how does that vocabulary impact the words you select? For example, a programmer will use the word "key" in a much different way than a locksmith uses it.
  • Your document may be read by a wide range of persons with different needs. Choose keywords that will meet or address the needs of different audiences.
  • You may want to study similar indexes for help in selecting keywords. Remember, keywords can be simple to complex -- from one word entries, to entries that show relationships, to entries that represent abstract ideas.
  • Test the keywords you have chosen by having volunteers search the Web for your documents. Did they use any of the keywords you selected?
  • Do you need to update your index to include new terms? Remember, vocabulary can change over time.

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