When it comes to SEO, keywords are categorized into various types based on their characteristics and the kind of search intent they fulfill. Commonly, these types include short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords, product-defining keywords, customer-defining keywords, geo-targeting keywords, LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, intent-targeting keywords, and branded keywords. Understanding and effectively leveraging the right mix of these keyword types can have a substantial impact on your SEO strategy.

Understanding Different Types of Keywords in SEO

SEO is not just about getting traffic to your site—you want the right kind of traffic. Different keywords serve different purposes, and knowing which is which can help you tailor your content effectively.

Short-Tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords are also known as head terms or generic keywords. They are typically one to three words long and have a high search volume. Due to their broad nature, they are highly competitive. Examples include “shoes” or “marketing software”.

Long-Tail Keywords

Contrary to short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords are phrases that contain three or more words. They are more specific and tend to attract a more niche audience. For instance, “men’s running shoes size 11” is a long-tail keyword. While they have lower search volumes, they often boast higher conversion rates due to their specificity.

Product-Defining Keywords

These keywords clearly define what your product is. They are vital for eCommerce sites and businesses looking to attract customers who know exactly what they want. Examples include “wireless noise-cancelling headphones” or “solar-powered garden lights”.

Customer-Defining Keywords

Customer-defining keywords are used by searchers to identify themselves. These keywords help you target specific demographics or interest groups. For example, terms like “fashion for over 60s” or “apps for busy moms” effectively narrow down the audience.

Geo-Targeting Keywords

Local SEO is incredibly important for businesses with a physical location or a regional service area. Geo-targeting keywords include location-specific phrases that attract audiences in a particular geographical area, like “best coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles” or “New York rooftop wedding venues”.

LSI Keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing)

LSI keywords are conceptually related terms that search engines use to deeply understand the content on a webpage. These are not exact keyword matches but synonyms or related phrases that help improve search engine rankings.

Intent-Targeting Keywords

Search intent is crucial in SEO. Keywords can be classified based on the user’s intent when they input the query. Four main types of intents are informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional. Each type targets users at different stages of the user journey.

Branded Keywords

Branded keywords include the brand name or specific product names owned by a company. They are critical for capturing users searching for your brand or products specifically. Examples are “Evernote app” or “Gucci handbag”.

Diving Deeper into Keyword Types and Their Usage

Short-Tail Keywords and Search Volume

Short-tail keywords are broad, making them highly competitive. They drive a lot of traffic to your site but converting that traffic can be challenging. Google’s understanding of short-tail terms has evolved to consider user intent and the context in which the keywords are used.

Long-Tail Keywords and User Intent

Long-tail keywords are often used by consumers who are closer to a point-of-purchase or are searching for specific information. They may not generate the high volume of traffic that short-tail keywords do, but the traffic they bring is targeted and relevant.

Product-Defining Keywords and eCommerce

Ecommerce sites heavily rely on product-defining keywords as these directly link to their catalog. When consumers know what they want, they search using product-specific terms.

Customer-Defining Keywords and Audience Segmentation

By incorporating customer-defining keywords into your strategy, you can tailor your messaging and content to address specific slices of your market. This can be particularly useful in crafting PPC campaigns or personalized content strategies.

Geo-Targeting Keywords and Local SEO

For businesses that rely on local customers, using geo-targeting keywords can significantly improve their visibility in local search results. This includes optimizing for “near me” searches that have become exceedingly common on mobile devices.

LSI Keywords and Content Relevance

Integrating LSI keywords helps search engines better understand the relevance of your content, which can lead to improved rankings. These keywords should occur naturally within your content, providing a better reading experience.

Intent-Targeting Keywords and the Buying Funnel

Understanding the intent behind searches allows you to align your content with the buyer’s journey. Each stage of the funnel may necessitate different keyword types to effectively capture potential customers.

Branded Keywords and Brand Loyalty

Customers searching for branded keywords are often further along in the buyer’s journey. They either have a strong brand preference or are repeat customers. Ranking for these terms is especially important for capturing this high-intent traffic.

Finishing Thoughts

In the dynamic field of SEO, keywords serve as the backbone of any successful strategy. By diversifying your keyword portfolio to include a mix of short-tail, long-tail, product-defining, customer-defining, geo-targeting, LSI, intent-targeting, and branded keywords, you significantly enhance your ability to drive high-quality traffic to your site. Each type of keyword plays a unique role in mapping out your content to various customer needs and search behaviors. In essence, a thorough understanding of different types of keywords in SEO will not only improve your site’s visibility but also its relevance and authority in your specific niche.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are keywords in SEO?

Keywords in SEO refer to words or phrases that users enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services. These are the terms webmasters optimize their content for, with the goal of ranking higher in search engine result pages (SERPs) and attracting relevant traffic to their site.

How many types of keywords are there in SEO?

There are several categories of keywords used in SEO, which can primarily be grouped into the following types:

1. Short-tail keywords
2. Long-tail keywords
3. Primary keywords
4. Secondary keywords
5. Branded keywords
6. Non-branded keywords
7. Commercial keywords
8. Transactional keywords
9. Informational keywords
10. Navigational keywords
11. Geo-targeting keywords
12. LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing)

What are short-tail keywords?

Short-tail keywords are concise and typically consist of one to three words. They are broad and attract a high volume of searches but are also highly competitive. An example of a short-tail keyword would be “shoes.”

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are more specific than short-tail keywords. They usually contain three or more words and attract less search traffic, but that traffic can be more targeted and relevant. An example of a long-tail keyword is “women’s waterproof hiking shoes.”

What’s the difference between primary and secondary keywords?

Primary keywords are the main terms that a web page is optimized for. These are the most important keywords for a particular page and are often targeted in the title, meta description, and headings. Secondary keywords are related terms that support the primary keywords. They provide additional context and can help capture a broader audience.

What are branded and non-branded keywords?

Branded keywords include the brand name or specific product names associated with a company (e.g., “Nike running shoes”). Non-branded keywords do not contain brand names and focus on generic terms or categories (e.g., “running shoes”).

What are commercial and transactional keywords?

Commercial keywords indicate the searcher’s intent to make a purchase or transaction in the near future. They often include words like “buy,” “deal,” “discount,” or “coupon.” Transactional keywords are a subset of commercial keywords, where the intent to complete a transaction is more immediate, often including specific product names or model numbers.

What are informational and navigational keywords?

Informational keywords are used when searchers are looking for information or answers to questions. They can include words like “how to,” “guide,” “tutorial,” or “what is.” Navigational keywords are used when people are trying to find a specific website or webpage, and they usually include the names of brands, products, or services.

How are geo-targeting keywords used in SEO?

Geo-targeting keywords are location-specific and are used when businesses want to attract an audience from a particular geographic area. These keywords can include city names, neighborhoods, or zip codes along with the service or product, such as “plumber in Atlanta” or “Seattle coffee shop.”

What are LSI keywords, and how do they contribute to SEO?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are thematically related terms or phrases that search engines use to understand the content on a webpage better. They are not synonyms but are related to the primary keyword and help provide context. Including LSI keywords can improve the relevancy of content and help search engines understand the topic more deeply, potentially leading to better rankings.

Your website deserves more visitors! Unlock its potential with our award winning SEO packages. Check out our SEO Packages and take your website to a whole new level today.


Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.