Keyword research is a fundamental part of SEO. If you target keywords that are too competitive, you may never reach page one. And if you only target low-volume, long-tail keywords, you may never earn your website any significant traffic.
Getting this balance right and understanding which keywords to target is the key to getting content visibility and seeing organic traffic growth. Unfortunately, even experienced SEOs often overlook entire categories of potential keywords. Don’t fall into this trap.
This article covers the most widely recognized types of keywords and why you should include them in your keyword research process. If you’re ready to unlock your website’s true potential, be sure to include all eleven kinds in your content strategy.
What role do keywords play in SEO?
Keywords are the words or phrases users enter into search engines to find the information, websites, or products they are looking for. Search engines use these keywords to identify websites that offer relevant content and rank them according to their quality, popularity, and user experience.
In other words, to rank for a particular keyword and get the website traffic you desire, you need to:
- Understand the search intent behind a keyword
- Create content that satisfies the user and ends the search journey
- Include the keyword strategically in that content
As you can see, keywords play an essential role in content strategy and SEO. But there are many different types of keywords, and they all have unique characteristics. Even if you don’t implement all eleven of these types of keywords in your content, it is important to recognize the benefits, considerations, and use cases for each.
11 types of keywords to master
To build a successful content marketing strategy, you need to master the research, use, and optimization of keywords. Here are eleven keyword categories to include in your process:
1. Informational keywords
Informational keywords are queries looking for more knowledge or understanding. The searcher is likely trying to answer a question, solve an issue, or locate resources. In fact, they may not even fully understand their own problem yet. As such, informational keywords are often broad, high-level searches that may contain words like, “what”, “where”, “how”, or “why.”
For marketers, this type of search indicates that a prospect is likely in the awareness stage of the buyer journey. So the appropriate content for this query is educational rather than sales-focused.
However, to capture some value, these content pieces can be built around a lead magnet. In this case, the user is required to share their contact information in exchange for a helpful guide.
2. Commercial keywords
Commercial keywords highlight a searcher’s interest in a specific company, product, or service. The user may want to compare competitors, read reviews, or evaluate a feature set.
These types of keywords are popular with shoppers who use search engines to make purchase decisions. The queries may contain words like, “compare”, “vs”, “price”, or “review”.
Commercial keywords are common with buyers in the interest and desire stages of the customer journey. This makes them the perfect targets for product-focused content and detailed reviews of your personal experiences.
3. Transactional keywords
Transactional keywords come from searchers in the action stage of the customer journey. These queries demonstrate a user’s intention to buy and are meant to direct the user to a website in which they can complete a purchase.
Transactional keywords typically include “buy”, “order”, “shop”, or “for sale” in the query. And because they indicate that the user is ready to spend money, these types of keywords are heavily targeted with paid search ads and backlinking efforts.
If you decide to target transactional keywords, the landing page should be optimized for conversion. Your goal is to reduce the number of steps between the search and a completed purchase. Any unnecessary friction in this process introduces the risk that the high-intent user abandons their purchase and you lose a sale.
4. Navigational keywords
Navigational keywords are queries that show an intent to visit a specific location or website. They are typically branded, which means that the user is searching for a company by name.
It’s possible for navigational keywords to also be used for transacting, but the focus of these queries is more on finding a landing page. They can be used to locate contact information, business hours, and directions as well.
Companies that see a significant volume of navigational queries should focus their SEO efforts on surfacing the appropriate landing page for those keywords. This requires catering title tags, meta descriptions, and on-page content to match the search intent and ensure a higher click-through rate.
5. Short-tail keywords
Short-tail keywords are typically defined as queries of one to three words that are broad and don’t provide much context. They are frequently used for informational searches, but due to their lack of specificity, they tend to generate a wide variety of results.
Short-tail keywords often have some of the highest search volumes. And consequently, they are the most competitive terms on search engines. The difficulty of ranking these words is compounded by their lack of clarity and broad appeal. So, while they may generate a lot of searches, they may not be the best terms to target as part of an SEO strategy.
6. Long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are more specific than short-tails and generally contain four or more words. These phrases provide much greater context about the intent of the user and often represent an in-depth search query.
Since long-tail keywords are much more specific, they tend to have less volume and less competition. This makes them great targets for content marketing. Each piece of content can target one or more of these queries at a time. Although any individual long-tail keyword may not generate many website visitors, the cumulative effect of many long-tails can add up and become a substantial amount of traffic.
7. Short-term keywords
Source: Google Trends
Short-term keywords are queries related to current events, news stories, and seasonal topics. These phrases typically have a high search volume but only for a limited period of time.
For example, when a celebrity passes away, many queries related to their life, career, and death often show a spike in search volume. SEOs, bloggers, and content creators could take this opportunity to address these queries and tell the celebrity’s story.
But it is important to remember that, as the name suggests, short-term keywords come and go quickly—often, within days or weeks. For most business models, these types of keywords are best spotted and avoided.
8. Evergreen keywords
Source: Google Trends
In contrast to short-term keywords, evergreen keywords are phrases that have consistent search volume over time. These queries can be used to create content with a longer shelf life, meaning a successful piece can generate website visitors for months or even years after publication.
Evergreen keywords should be the foundation of any content strategy because they provide sustainable traffic. Plus, the articles don’t require frequent updates or maintenance.
While many short-tail keywords are evergreen, these topics can be almost impossible to rank for. Instead, less competitive, evergreen long-tails can provide a path to earning more website visitors and developing topical authority.
9. LSI keywords
LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is a natural language processing technique designed to help algorithms overcome the challenges of synonyms and polysemic words. For example, when a user searches “cat”, they are likely interested in search results for “feline” as well. But when they search for “apple”, they could be referring to either the technology company or the fruit.
Although Google has confirmed that LSI technology is not used in search results, the SEO community continues to use the term “LSI keywords” to refer to semantically similar phrases. In other words, LSI keywords are now understood to mean related queries that can be used in conjunction with a primary keyword to create more comprehensive content.
So if a pet blog writes an article targeting the keyword “cats”, some LSI keywords worth including may be “kitten”, “kitty”, “tabby”, and “feline”.
10. Geo-targeting keywords
Geo-targeting or localized keywords are phrases that include the name of a city, state, region, or other geographical clues. These queries are used to connect searchers with locally relevant results, such as a store or service provider in their area.
For example, if a user searches for “dentists in Los Angeles,” the search engine will only return results that feature dentists located near that specific city.
To rank for this type of keyword, it can be helpful to establish a Google Business Profile and include geo-targeting keywords in your detailed description as well as on your website. And because local search results narrow the field of competition, these types of keywords are the ideal starting place for many small businesses.
11. Negative keywords
Negative keywords are words or phrases that tell a search engine not to consider certain queries. In paid search campaigns, these types of keywords can be used to filter out unwanted traffic and improve the return on ad spend.
For example, if you’re running a search ad for an e-commerce business that sells men’s shoes, you may want to add “women” and “women’s” as negative keywords to avoid wasting ad budget on irrelevant search queries.
Building a list of negative keywords is a valuable but often overlooked part of any paid search strategy. With careful curation, you can use negative keywords to improve the relevance and performance of your search engine marketing.
To develop a robust SEO strategy, marketers first need to understand the different types of keywords at their disposal. Whether you are focusing on transactional, long-tail, or evergreen keywords, each kind has its own unique use and can help build organic search visibility.
Ultimately, the key to success with organic marketing is knowing how and when to leverage each type of keyword. If you recognize how people interact with search engines and how to optimize your content accordingly, you can drive more traffic, generate more leads, and ultimately increase the revenue of your website.
If you need help with bolstering your SEO strategy, Techwyse Internet Marketing is at your service. We offer a comprehensive range of digital marketing services, including strategy and consulting, creative design, traffic building and more. To book an appointment, call (416)-410-7090 or contact us here.
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