Member Rara Avis
Ok, mind you Becca, Ron's the super-guru on this, and I'm still in the beginning stages of catching on to the whole thing. He's helped me out immensely but there is still a LOT I have to learn. I feel confident however that I won't make too big of a mistake... and even more confident that if I'm wrong he'll jump in and let us know!
First - Keywords. They're not just the words you put in your meta tags. In fact, as I understand it, with search engines these days your MetaTags are all but useless unless they're supported by the content in your page. This content includes text, headers, links, image names, etc. etc. Anything on your page is fair game for the search engines to look into. And if your content doesn't match your keywords, many of them will ban you from their search engine!
So for an example, let's take my site - since I'm most familiar with it. If you "view source" (either by right-clicking on the screen or going up to your menu and choosing "view") you can see this listing:
<meta http-equiv="Keywords" content="ezine, zine, e-zine, magazine, online magazine, poetry, poems, poem, prose, stories, artwork, fiction, nonfiction, free, submit, submissions, publish, publishing, newsletter">
These are my keywords. But if you look on the page, you'll notice that's not the only place you find them. You'll see that most are repeated through links, in the text, even in directory naming and "alt" text for the images! The more support you have on your page (without crossing over the border into "spam") you have, the better ranking you're likely to get when someone runs a search using your keywords.
Caveat: This is a very simplified version of the simplified version I understand. As Ron's said, this is a very complicated, convoluted, and ever-changing process. If you were to know everything about SE's today, you would still have to learn more tomorrow, because it will have changed. But dont' let that worry you too much... in my op I'll let the people who are making lot of money off their sites worry about keeping completely up to date on this. For general purposes, I think that understanding the basics will hold you in fair standing. Of course I'm still working on the basics... but I'll get there some day!
Next subject: Choosing keywords.