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Types of Keywords: The Building Blocks of Effective SEO Strategies

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Table of Contents

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become indispensable for businesses and content creators in today’s digital landscape. At the heart of any successful SEO strategy are keywords – the words and phrases people enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services. These keywords are the building blocks that help your website climb the search engine results pages (SERPs), making it more visible and accessible to your target audience. This article will explore the different types of keywords and how they serve as the foundation for effective SEO strategies.

Understanding the various types of keywords is crucial for creating a well-rounded and targeted SEO campaign. By familiarizing yourself with their unique characteristics and applications, you will be better equipped to optimize your content and achieve higher rankings in the SERPs. Each type has advantages and potential drawbacks, from head terms to long-tail keywords. By the end of this article, you will have a solid grasp of keyword types and their roles in crafting a winning SEO strategy. So, let’s dive in and start building your keyword arsenal for success in the competitive world of online search.

What is a type of keyword?

Types of keywords refer to the various categories or classifications of words and phrases used when searching for information, products, or services on search engines. These keywords play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) as they help search engines understand the content and context of a web page, which in turn influences its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

The various types of keywords can be classified based on their search volume, competition, intent, and length. Every kind of keyword offers distinct advantages and challenges, making it essential to understand their unique characteristics to craft a winning SEO strategy. 

Types of Keywords

Keywords can also be categorized by length, Search Intent, On-Page SEO, and Paid Search. Understanding these classifications can help you optimize your SEO strategy and better target your desired audience. Here are the types of keywords:

By length

Keywords categorized by their length influence their search volume, competition, and conversion potential. Understanding these classifications can help you optimize your SEO strategy and better target your desired audience. Here are the types of keywords by length:

Short-tail keywords (Head terms)

Short-tail keywords, or head terms, are usually one to three words long. They are broad and generic keywords, which means they have high search volume and competition. While short-tail keywords can attract substantial traffic, their conversion rates may be lower since they sometimes capture a user’s specific intent. For example, a short-tail keyword might be “running shoes.”

Medium-tail keywords

Medium-tail keywords typically contain three to four words, making them slightly more specific than short-tail keywords. These keywords strike a balance between low search volume and competition, as they are more targeted than short-tail keywords but still have a decent search volume. An example of a medium-tail keyword would be “women’s running shoes.”

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords contain four or more words, making them highly specific and targeted. These keywords generally have lower search volume than mid-tail keywords, but higher conversion rates due to their ability to capture a user’s precise intent. An example of a long-tail keyword is “best women’s running shoes for flat feet.”

For On-page SEO

When optimizing your website’s content for search engines, it’s essential to understand the different types of keywords used in on-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more organic traffic. To achieve this, you must focus on various keyword types that help search engines understand and index your content accurately. Here are the types of relevant keywords for on-page SEO:

Primary keywords

Primary keywords, or main or focus keywords, are the central terms you want your web page to rank for in search results. These keywords should be highly relevant to your content and include critical on-page elements such as the title tag, meta description, URL, and headers (H1, H2, etc.). For example, if you have a page about “vegan protein sources,” that would be your primary keyword.

Secondary keywords

Secondary keywords are terms that are closely related to your primary keyword. They provide additional context for related keywords and help search engines better understand your content. For example, if your primary keyword is “vegan protein sources,” secondary keywords might include “plant-based protein,” “high-protein vegan foods,” and “best protein sources for vegans.”

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords

LSI keywords are semantically related terms that help search engines understand the context of your content. These keywords can include synonyms, variations, or associated phrases relevant to your primary keyword. Incorporating LSI keywords into your content can enhance its quality and make it more comprehensive, leading to a better user experience and improved SEO performance. For instance, LSI keywords for “vegan protein sources” might be “legumes,” “tofu,” “tempeh,” and “seitan.”

Digital marketing relies significantly on the vital role played by SEO companies. When it comes to paid search campaigns, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads, understanding the different types of keywords is crucial to maximizing your return on investment (ROI) and targeting the right keyword research for your audience. Paid search keywords help advertisers or SEO companies create relevant ads when users search for specific terms. Here are the types of keywords for paid search:

Broad match keywords

Broad match is the default keyword matching option in Google Ads. When you use broad-match keywords, your ads may show for searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, or other variations of your keyword. This type of keyword targeting allows you to reach a wide audience but may result in lower relevancy and higher costs due to increased competition-related vertical keywords. For example, a broad match keyword like “women’s hats” might trigger your ad for searches like “ladies’ caps” or “women’s headwear.”

Phrase match keywords

Phrase match keywords allow your ads to show for searches that include your keyword as a phrase in the exact order you specify, along with additional words before or after the right keywords. Your ads won’t appear for searches that include words between the terms in your keyword phrase. For example, a phrase match keyword like “women’s hats” might trigger your ad for searches like “buy women’s hats” or “women’s hats on sale” but not for “hats for women.”

Exact match keywords

Exact match keywords offer the highest level of control and precision in targeting. Your ads will only appear for searches that match your keyword exactly or include very close variations customer defining keywords (such as misspellings or plural forms). Using exact-match keywords can lead to higher conversion rates and lower costs due to their specificity. For example, an exact match keyword like “women’s hats” will only trigger your ad for searches like “women’s hats” or “women hat.”

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are terms you don’t want your ads to appear for, helping you exclude irrelevant searches and reduce wasted ad spend. Adding negative keywords to your campaigns ensures that your ads only show highly relevant searches for your products or services. For example, if a user searches that you sell “women’s hats” but don’t offer “women’s baseball hats,” you can add “baseball” as a negative keyword to prevent your ads from showing for irrelevant searches.

Branded keywords

Branded keywords include your brand, company name, or other terms closely associated with your brand. Bidding on branded keywords can help you capture users who are already familiar with your brand and have a clear purchase intent. Branded keywords often have lower costs per click (CPC) and higher conversion rates. For example, if you own a hat store called “Hat Haven,” a branded keyword might be “Hat Haven women’s hats.”

Competitor keywords

Competitor keywords are terms that include your competitors’ brand names or products. Bidding on competitor product keywords also can help you attract users searching for your competitors, potentially capturing their business. For example, if you sell women’s hats and your main competitor is “Headwear Emporium,” a competitor keyword might be “Headwear Emporium women’s hats.”

By Search Intent

Keywords can also be classified based on the search intent behind them. Search intent targeting keywords often refers to a user’s goal when typing a query into a search engine. By understanding and targeting different keywords based on search intent, you can create content that satisfies users’ needs and improve your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are the types of keywords by search intent:

Informational keywords

Informational keywords are used when a user seeks knowledge, answers to questions, or general information about a topic. These keywords often include terms like “how to,” “what is,” “guide,” or “tutorial.” By targeting informational keywords, you can create content that provides valuable information and satisfies users’ curiosity, positioning your website as an authoritative resource. For example, “how to tie a tie” or “symptoms of the flu” are informational keywords.

Transactional keywords

Transactional keywords indicate a user’s intent to complete a specific action or make a purchase. These keywords often include terms like “buy,” “order,” “sign up,” “register,” or “price.” Targeting transactional keywords can help you optimize your content for users ready to convert, potentially leading to increased sales and conversions. For example, “buy iPhone 12” or “sign up for a yoga class” are transactional keywords.

Commercial investigation keywords

Commercial investigation keywords are used when a user researches products or services before making a purchase decision. These keywords often include terms like “best,” “top,” “reviews,” “comparison,” or “alternatives.” By targeting commercial investigation keywords, you can create content that helps users make informed decisions, increasing their chances of choosing your products or services. For example, “best running shoes” or “top digital marketing agencies” are commercial investigation keywords.

Local keywords

As previously mentioned, local keywords are search terms that include geographic indicators, such as city or neighborhood names. These keywords indicate that users seek products, services, or information specific to a particular location. Optimizing your content for local keywords can increase your visibility among local users, driving more foot traffic and sales for brick-and-mortar businesses. For example, “dentist in San Francisco” or “Italian restaurants in Brooklyn” are local keywords.


In conclusion, understanding the different types of keywords is essential to creating effective SEO strategies and improving your online visibility. By categorizing keywords by length, on-page SEO, paid search, and search intent, you can better target your desired audience and create content that satisfies their needs and goals. Incorporating a mix of short-tail, medium-tail, and long-tail keywords, primary, secondary, LSI, long-tail, and local keywords, and other navigational keywords, informational, transactional, commercial investigation, and local keywords in your SEO strategy can help you attract more organic traffic, increase conversions, and boost your overall online presence.

Joe Troyer

Joe Troyer is the Founder of Review Grower. He is leading expert in all things Internet Marketing: Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Google Business, Reputation Management, Landing Page Conversion, and Call Tracking.

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