Keyword research is a critical step for anyone wanting to improve their on-page SEO. Choosing the right keywords increases the search visibility of your website and drives more traffic to it. This means increased revenue if you monetise your website. But choosing the right keywords requires an understanding of the different types of keywords in SEO.
The 9 main types of keywords in SEO are:
- Short-tail keywords
- Long-tail keywords
- Product keywords
- Customer-defining keywords
- Branded keywords
- Market-defining keywords
- Geotargeted keywords
- Buyer intent keywords
- Competitor keywords
Keywords in SEO are the terms and phrases people type into search engines. The aim of any SEO strategy is to get your website to appear in the top search engine results for certain keywords. You do this by incorporating high-ranking keywords in your website content.
But now let’s take a closer look at each of the above types of keywords and go through some examples.
9 Types of Keywords in SEO
1. Short-Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords are search phrases of three words or less. When someone first starts looking into a topic or searches for a product or service, they normally use short-tail keywords. As they carry out their research, they’ll then identify some long-tail keywords to narrow down their search. Other terms for short-tail keywords include competitive keywords, general keywords, head terms, short keywords, or broad keywords.
Some examples of short-tail keywords are:
- “kid’s bike”
Short-tail keywords are very broad, so they generate many results when you search for them. This high search volume means they’re also very competitive and more difficult to rank highly for. And because the search intent of short-tail words is so broad, they generally have a low conversion rate.
If your aim is simply to drive traffic to your website, short-tail keywords will help you do this. But you’ll be competing with a lot of other websites using the same keywords and so searchers may not even make it down the search results list to your website.
The searchers who do click through to your website may not stick around if the specific content of your website isn’t what they’re after. For example, if you’re a takeaway coffee shop, someone searching for “coffee” may be looking to buy a coffee machine, rather than looking for their local coffee shop. This means short-tail keywords, while important, usually aren’t where you should focus your keyword research.
2. Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search terms with more than three words. They’re more specific and targeted than short-tail keywords. For example:
- “how to adjust seat height on a kid’s bike”
- “when to repot orchids after flowering”
- “best coffee shop near me”
Compared to short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords have a lower search volume, which means there’s generally less competition for them too. They also have more specific search intent, as the searcher already knows exactly what they are looking for. Because of this, short-tail keywords have a higher conversion rate.
With long-tail keywords, it’s a case of quality over quantity. While they drive less traffic to your site than short-tail keywords on a case-by-case basis, they tend to have higher click-through and conversion rates.
Effective long-tail keyword research allows you to provide information that specifically answers what the searcher is looking for. This can dramatically improve your search ranking and drive quality traffic to your website.
3. Product Keywords
Product keywords are keywords that best describe exactly what you sell. They’re used to describe brands, colours, sizes, models, and any other relevant features of your products. Some examples of product keywords are:
- “Early Rider Charger 12” balance bike”
- “pink phalaenopsis orchid”
- “Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Expresso Machine”
When a user searches for product keywords, they are looking very specifically for your product or service. They’ve done their research and are now at an early stage of purchasing. So, you can use product keywords to create very targeted, high conversion rate content. Thorough product keyword research is essential for anyone running an e-commerce shop or selling items on Amazon, Shopify, or other online marketplaces.
4. Customer-Defining Keywords
Customer-defining keywords are search terms that your specific audience or customer base use to describe themselves. They include words that describe age groups, genders, professions, characteristics, and preferences. For example:
- “bike for girls”
- “low maintenance orchids”
- “best home coffee machine for coffee connoisseurs”
A good understanding of your customers/audience and their needs is crucial to the success of any business. When it comes to SEO keywords, examining how your customers define themselves allows you to frame your content and keywords accordingly. Your content will then connect with the people most likely to engage with or buy your product or service.
However, even as a blogger you can make use of these types of keywords. If your target audience is beginner gardeners, you could use customer-defining keywords like “orchid care for beginners”. Even if you’re not selling a product, you’re still selling your content to a target audience!
5. Branded Keywords
Branded keywords are search terms that include the name of your business or brand that are unique to your domain, for example:
- “Rascal Rides kids bikes”
- “North England Orchid Society annual show”
- “Kate’s Café menu”
Branded keywords are very valuable as there’s a high degree of user intent when people include them in a search. The searcher is aware of your business or brand and is looking for it specifically. There is very little competition and, as a result, your website should appear in the top search results for that term.
Branded keywords also have a high click through rate. At least 50% of people who search for a brand click on the top-ranking page. Make sure that’s your website by using the right branded keywords.
6. Market-Defining Keywords
Market-defining keywords are search terms that include words used to describe your business or industry. They are the most common words that people think of when they initially start researching a specific issue and are generally very broad.
Some examples of market-defining keywords are:
- “child’s bike”, “child’s pushbike”, “child’s sport”
- “orchid care”, “plant care”, “indoor plants”
- “coffee press”, “cold brew”, “café”
Given their broadness, it’s difficult to rank highly for market-defining keywords. Another term for market-defining keywords is market segment keywords. You’ll probably include a lot of these types of keywords within your content naturally, but they shouldn’t be the focus of your keyword research due to the high level of competition across the market.
7. Geotargeted Keywords
Geotargeted keywords target a specific location, such as a local area, city, state, or country. They usually indicate where the searcher is based, or a geographic area in which they have an interest. Some examples of geotargeted keywords are:
- “child’s bike for sale Glasgow”
- “where to buy orchids UK”
- “best coffee in north London”
Geotargeted keywords are crucial to the success of websites promoting location-specific products or services. 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day, meaning search intent is highly shifted towards buying something. Localised keywords are an important part of the famous Google algorithm which splits results geographically to ensure local businesses have a chance to appear in the top search results.
For example, a small local plumbing business is unlikely to show up in the top results when someone searches for “plumber”. They have more chance if someone searches for “plumber London” or “plumber Hackney”. These keywords are usually more important for businesses with products and services to sell.
8. Buyer Intent Keywords
Buyer intent keywords, or commercial intent keywords, are search terms that indicate the searcher has the intent to buy a product or service. These keywords are transactional searches. People using them are towards the end of the sales funnel – they’ve done their research to understand their problem and know how best to solve it. They’re now looking to buy the right product or service to do this.
For this reason, effective buyer intent keywords can significantly increase your conversion rate and revenue. Targeting buyer intent keywords may not significantly increase the traffic to your website, but it might improve the quality of your visitors, i.e. people who are ready to buy.
Examples of buyer intent keywords include:
- “where to buy a child’s bike”
- “best orchid fertiliser”
- “online coffee bean store”
9. Competitor Keywords
Competitor keywords are the search terms your competition is targeting. Researching your competitor’s keywords is a great shortcut for developing your own SEO strategy. It helps you identify:
- Which keywords rank highly
- Which aren’t ranking at all
- Any keywords your competitor hasn’t yet targeted
With those insights, you can reverse engineer an effective SEO strategy for your website. The best way to research your competitor’s keywords is to use a tool like Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush. By typing your competitor’s brand or product name into a Google search, you’ll also see the most popular related search terms. This is useful for both businesses and bloggers.
Choose the Right Types of Keywords to Focus on
When it comes to SEO strategy, no single type of keyword is better than the others. It’s a matter of finding the right mix of keywords to get your website ranking highly in the search results. Understanding the different types of SEO keywords is just the first step.