Home / Definitions / Keyword


Vangie Beal
Last Updated March 22, 2022 11:06 am

Keyword has several different meanings based on the context in which it’s used. In text editing and database management systems, a keyword is an index entry that identifies a specific record or document.

Computer programming keyword

A keyword is a word that is reserved by a program because that word has a special meaning, typically a commands or parameters. Keywords are used in many different languages, but they all have similar functions and purposes. They help programmers write code more efficiently by allowing them to use words instead of having to spell out every single command.

For example, if you want your program to print “Hello World” on the screen, you could type out each letter individually (print(h), print(e), etc.), but it would be much easier just to type “print Hello World” and let the computer know what each word means. In this case, “print” is a keyword because it tells the computer exactly what action should take place when that line of code runs. Other keywords include IF/ELSE/ENDIF (which tell the computer how to handle certain conditions) and FOR/NEXT (which tell the computer how many times something needs to repeat).

Every programming language has a set of keywords that cannot be used as variable names. Keywords are sometimes called reserved names.

DBMS keywords

A keyword is a word or phrase that the database management system (DBMS) uses to search for data. The DBMS searches through all of the records in a table, looking for matches with keywords. Keywords can be words from the title of an article, page, book, or other document; however, they can also be phrases and even numbers.

In addition to searching for specific keywords within documents, some databases allow users to create complex queries using their keywords with Boolean logic and operators such as AND and OR. For example, if you wanted to find articles about computers written by authors who were born after 1960 but before 1980 you could use this query: “author_born>=1960 AND author_born<=1980”

Internet search keywords

A keyword is a word or phrase that you use to search for information on the internet. Keywords are used in conjunction with search engines, which allow users to find specific websites and pages by searching through billions of web pages. The more popular keywords are searched, the higher they rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). When someone searches for your business name or product name using a keyword, it’s called “keyword targeting.”

For example, if you own an ice cream shop named Sweet Scoops Ice Cream Shop and want people who live near your store to find your website when they type “ice cream shops near me” into Google Search, then you would target those two keywords in your SEO strategy. 

This article was reviewed and updated in March 2022 by Web Webster.