One of the most important aspects of SEO is choosing the right keywords to optimize for. Keywords are the words or phrases people enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services.
However, not all keywords are created equal. SEO has several keyword types, each with unique characteristics, benefits, and user intent.
Understanding these keywords is essential for creating effective SEO strategies that drive traffic and conversions to your website. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of keywords in SEO and how to use them to improve your website’s search engine visibility.
The Types of Keywords in SEO
Keywords are words or phrases used to identify the main topics of a piece of content. In search engine optimization (SEO), keywords play a crucial role in helping search engines understand the content on a website and determine its relevance to a user’s search query.
According to a study by Ahrefs, 91% of web pages get no organic search traffic from Google, mainly because they are not optimized for the right keywords.
Short-tail keywords / Generic keywords / Head terms
These are broad, one- or two-word phrases commonly used in search queries. They have a high search volume but are also highly competitive. Examples of short-tail keywords include “shoes,” “car,” and “hotel.”
- High search volume: Short-tail keywords tend to have higher search volume than longer phrases. This means that more people are searching for these keywords, which can potentially bring more traffic to your website.
- Wide reach: Short-tail keywords are general and broad, so they have a wider reach and can attract a larger audience to your website.
- Easy to remember: Short-tail keywords are simple and easy to remember, which can make them more effective for branding purposes. They are also more likely to be used in natural language queries.
- Suitable for targeting a broad audience: Short-tail keywords are often used by people in the early stages of their search process and are not sure precisely what they’re looking for. This can make them a good choice for targeting a specific audience.
- Useful for Paid Search Advertising: Short-tail keywords are often used in Paid Search Advertising because of their broad reach and high search volume. As a result, they can help advertisers target a large audience and increase visibility in search results.
- Opportunity for brand discovery: By appearing in search results for generic keywords, companies can introduce their brand to new customers who may not have been familiar with them.
- Potential for long-term growth: Generic keywords can provide a foundation for long-term growth, as they are not tied to any specific product or brand and can continue to attract traffic and customers over time. A study by Conductor found that websites that rank for both head term and long-tail keywords receive 300% more traffic than those that only rank for long-tail keywords.
- Useful for market research: Targeting generic keywords can provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, allowing companies to see what users are searching for and are interested in. However, a study by HubSpot found that head-term keywords are often used in the early stages of the buyer’s journey when people are still researching and gathering information.
- Versatility: Generic keywords can be used for a wide range of products and services, making them a versatile and flexible option for SEO strategy.
- Lower Click-Through Rate: A study by Moz found that head-term keywords tend to have lower click-through rates (CTR) than long-tail keywords, with an average CTR of 15% compared to 40% for long-tail keywords.
These are more specific, multi-word phrases that are less competitive but have a lower search volume. They are often used by people looking for detailed information or products, and they make up 70% of all search traffic, according to a study by Moz. Examples of long-tail keywords include “women’s running shoes,” “best car insurance for young drivers,” and “pet-friendly hotels in Miami.”
- More Specific: Long-tail keywords are more detailed than short-tail keywords, meaning they are more likely to match the user’s search intent. This can lead to higher click-through rates and better conversion rates.
- Less competition: Because long-tail keywords are more specific, they tend to have lower search volume and less competition than short-tail keywords. This can make them easier to rank for and less expensive to bid on in paid search advertising.
- Better for targeting niche audiences: People often use long-tail keywords in the later stages of their search process and have a clearer idea of what they’re looking for. This makes them a good choice for targeting niche audiences and specific customer segments.
- More People Using Long-Tail: A study by Search Engine Watch found that 50% of search queries are four words or longer, indicating a growing trend towards long-tail and specific search queries.
These include the name of a specific brand or company. They are often used by people searching for a particular brand or its products. Examples of branded keywords include “Nike shoes,” “Apple iPhone,” and “Amazon Prime.”
- High click-through rates: Branded keywords tend to have high click-through rates because users are already familiar with the brand and are more likely to click on their website in search results. According to a study by Google, branded keywords have a higher click-through rate than non-branded keywords, with an average CTR of 31% for branded keywords compared to 15% for non-branded keywords.
- Protection of brand reputation: By optimizing for branded keywords, companies can protect their brand reputation by ensuring that their website appears at the top of search results for their brand name. This can help prevent negative reviews or misinformation from appearing higher in search results.
- Increased brand awareness: By appearing at the top of search results for their brand name, companies can increase brand awareness and recognition. This can lead to more traffic, social media followers, and sales. For example, a study by Conductor found that websites that rank for branded and non-branded keywords receive 300% more traffic than those that only rank for non-branded keywords.
- Better user experience: By optimizing for branded keywords, companies can ensure that users find the most relevant and accurate information when searching for their brand. This can lead to a better user experience and increased customer satisfaction.
- Competitive advantage: By ranking higher in search results for their brand name, companies can gain a competitive advantage over other brands in their industry. This can lead to increased market share and customer loyalty.
These are specific to a particular geographic location. They are often used by people looking for local businesses or services. If you’re doing digital marketing in Chicago, examples of geo-targeted keywords include “Chicago pizza delivery,” “Chicago car rental,” and “Chicago hotels.”
- Higher relevance: By targeting geo-targeted keywords, businesses can create more relevant content tailored to local customers’ needs and interests.
- Increased visibility: Optimizing for geo-targeted keywords can help businesses appear higher in search results for local queries, increasing their visibility and exposure to potential customers in their area.
- Improved user experience: By providing more relevant and accurate information to users searching for local products and services, businesses can improve the user experience and increase customer satisfaction.
- Targeted advertising: Geo-targeted keywords can target local customers through paid search advertising, social media advertising, and other online marketing channels.
- Better conversion rates: By targeting local customers with geo-targeted keywords and content, businesses can increase the likelihood of conversions and sales, as these customers are more likely to be in the later stages of the buying process. According to Google, 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day, highlighting the importance of targeting geo-targeted keywords for local businesses.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords
These are semantically related to the main keyword. They help search engines understand the context of the content and determine its relevance to the search query. Examples of LSI keywords for “running shoes” include “jogging,” “marathon,” and “fitness.”
- Improved search engine rankings: Targeting LSI keywords can improve your content’s overall quality and relevance, making it more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Better user experience: By including LSI keywords in your content, you can provide more relevant and informative content to your audience, leading to a better user experience and increased engagement.
- Increased traffic: Targeting LSI keywords can help attract more traffic to your website by providing more opportunities for your content to appear in search results for related keywords.
- Diversified keyword portfolio: By targeting LSI keywords, you can diversify your portfolio and reduce reliance on a single primary keyword.
- Future-proofing: As search engine algorithms become more sophisticated, targeting LSI keywords can help future-proof your content by ensuring it is optimized for a broader range of related keywords and phrases.
Those are used by people looking for information about a particular topic. These keywords often include question words like “how,” “what,” “when,” and “why.” Examples of informational keywords include “how to train for a marathon,” “what is SEO,” and “when was the iPhone invented.”
- Increased traffic: Targeting informational keywords can help attract more traffic to your website by providing valuable and informative content that answers users’ questions.
- Improved user engagement: By providing high-quality and informative content, businesses can improve user engagement and build trust with their audience.
- Brand awareness: Targeting informational keywords can help increase brand awareness by exposing users to your brand and content when searching for your industry or niche information.
- Long-term growth potential: Creating high-quality content that targets informational keywords can help establish your website as a reliable source of information, leading to long-term growth in traffic and authority.
- Increased Inbound Links: According to a study by HubSpot, businesses that blog generate 55% more website visitors and 97% more inbound links, emphasizing the importance of targeting informational and long-tail keywords to drive traffic and build authority.
Commercial / Transactional keywords
These are keywords used by people looking to buy a product or service. These keywords often include words like “buy,” “purchase,” and “order.” Examples of commercial keywords include “buy running shoes online,” “purchase car insurance,” and “order pizza delivery.”
- Higher conversion rates: By targeting commercial keywords, businesses can attract users ready to purchase, leading to higher conversion rates and revenue.
- Improved ROI: Targeting commercial keywords can lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) as businesses reach users more likely to convert and generate revenue.
- Better user targeting: By targeting commercial keywords, businesses can better target users actively searching for their products or services, leading to more qualified leads and customers.
- Higher Click-Through Rate: Commercial queries have a 10% higher click-through rate than informational queries, according to a study by WordStream.
Short-term fresh keywords
These are keywords related to current events or trends quickly gaining popularity. They are often used in news articles, blog posts, and social media updates. Examples of short-term fresh keywords include “COVID-19 vaccine,” “Olympic Games 2024,” and “crypto crash.”
- Increased traffic: Targeting short-term fresh keywords can help attract more traffic to your website by capitalizing on current trends and topics, generating a lot of interest. This is usually short-lived but can help with short-term traffic growth.
- Improved visibility: By targeting short-term fresh keywords, businesses can improve their visibility and search engine rankings by appearing in search results for popular and trending topics.
- Competitive advantage: By targeting short-term fresh keywords, businesses can gain a competitive advantage over their competitors by being one of the first to create content around a trending topic.
- Better user engagement: By providing timely and relevant content to users’ interests, businesses can improve user engagement and build a stronger relationship with their audience.
- Increased social media engagement: Short-term fresh keywords often generate a lot of buzz on social media platforms. Businesses can increase their social media engagement and reach a wider audience by targeting these keywords.
In conclusion, SEO keywords are critical in optimizing your website and driving traffic to your business. By understanding the different types of keywords and their benefits, companies can develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that targets users at various stages of the customer journey.
Whether you are targeting short-tail or long-tail keywords, commercial or informational queries, or branded or generic terms, balancing your keyword targeting with a long-term SEO strategy focuses on building authority and providing value to users.
By consistently optimizing for the right keywords and providing high-quality content, businesses can improve their search engine rankings, attract more qualified leads, and ultimately increase revenue.