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What is a Keyword?

May 31, 2022   /   by  Roger West

In the context of search engine optimization (SEO), a keyword is a word or phrase that is typed into a search engine to find information online.

In order to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs), it is essential to choose the right keywords so that your site can be found by people who are searching for information about the topic of your website.

6 Types of Keywords

Keywords come in a variety of forms that marketers use to better reach the audience they're trying to attract.

1. Short-tail

A short-tail keyword is typically two words or less. These keywords are high-traffic and highly competitive, making them difficult to rank for. If you can rank your website for a short tail keyword, you will see a significant boost in traffic. An example of a short tail keyword would be 'bread' or 'dog.' These are broad, general keywords with a much larger search volume than long-tail keywords.

2. Long-tail

A long-tail keyword is three words or more. The advantage of long-tail keywords is that they are niche-specific and allow you to narrow your focus to rank higher on SERPs. This type of keyword has lower competition, allowing you to gain organic traffic much faster than short-tail keywords. Examples of long-tail keywords would be 'gluten-free bread recipe' or 'best dog food for Labradors.'

3. Evergreen

An evergreen keyword is one that continues to be popular and relevant regardless of trends. Examples would be 'how to bake bread' or 'how to train a puppy.'

4. Branded

Branded keywords consist of brand names and trademarks only. For example, a branded keyword could be 'Sony' or 'Taco Bell.’

5. Geo-Targeted

Geo-targeted keywords are focused on location. For example, if you are targeting people searching for information about your products or services in the United States, then a geo-targeted keyword would be 'Vet in Phoenix.'

6. Negative

Negative keywords are words that will not allow for a specific ad to show up in the search results. For example, if a product is marketed towards adults, using a negative keyword like “kids” will ensure the advertisement for the product will not show up under kids’ product searches. By doing this, the relevance of the ads increases. Without negative keywords, a campaign may spend more money for advertisements that will most likely be ignored by those searching for an unrelated item.

4 Types of Search Intent

So, what is search intent and why is it important? Search intent helps you understand what it is a potential customer is looking for. They may be ready to buy, or simply just looking for information. Either way, there are four main categories that search intent may fall under.

1. Transactional

Transactional searches imply that someone is ready to buy and tend to be more specific as to the product they are looking for (Example: “cheap flights to New York”).

2. Commercial

Commercial searches are like transactional searches, but there is less intent to buy. The person is doing research before making a purchase (Example: “Best running shoes”).

3. Navigational

Navigational searches are attempting to find a specific brand or type of content. The search could also be looking for a certain website or application (Example: A popular YouTube channel).

4. Informational

Informational searches are solely looking for answers to a specific question, which may not necessarily be related to making a purchase. This could mean looking for a recipe, asking for directions, or attempting to look for a fun fact (Example: “How to bake banana bread”).

Why Keywords are Important for Marketing

Keywords are important because they function as the middleman between what individuals are searching for, and what you are providing. The overall goal is to direct someone to your site. Keywords are an essential component of SEO, so it's important to be knowledgeable about them. Make sure you choose the right keywords and optimize your site for the best exposure. The higher you rank, the more traffic you will get on a website. Keywords can also alter how an ad budget is used. If keywords are implemented properly, the earning potential is maximized.

How to Optimize Your Site for Keywords

There are several ways to optimize your site so that it ranks higher for specific keywords:

  • Include your keywords multiple times throughout your content while maintaining readability and flow within the sentences.
  • When writing titles and meta descriptions, make sure to include the keywords you are targeting. These elements will display in the SERPs when your web page is shown, so optimizing them is important.
  • The URL of every webpage on your website should contain targeted keywords for optimal SEO results. It also helps people who link to your site see what they're linking to right away.
  • Use images with alt tags and captions that contain your keywords so search engines can also read them. Additionally, they will boost your website’s accessibility for disabled people.

3 Things to Avoid When Using Keywords

1. Having too many keywords

If too many keywords are used (and not enough negative keywords), the advertisement may appear in searches that are not related, causing the person searching to skip over the advertisement. You want your keywords to be broad enough to show up with related searches, but not too broad to where money is being lost.

2. Using the same keyword

If you are using too many of the same keywords on your web page, it can lead to the search engines seeing it as spammy content. Search engines have gotten better at detecting when there is an over usage of keywords. You want your content to read naturally, so that when someone clicks on a page with intent to buy, they are not turned away by the writing.

3. Misunderstanding user intent

It can be easy to focus on figuring out what keywords are needed, but it’s equally as important to look at the why. Understanding why users are searching for a keyword can help in figuring out what they want to consume. From there, you can create the best content based on that research. Understand search results can wield a successful outcome by looking at both the present and future. This means seeing how content is doing at the current moment, and how the keyword strategy can be adjusted going forward.

Moral of the story: Keywords are a helpful tool when they’re used not too little, not too much, but just right! For the inside scoop on how to optimize keyword usage for your business, contact us.

Roger West Creative + Code

Roger West Creative & Code is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps companies build brands, generate leads, and keep customers inspired and engaged. The agency provides a dynamic environment for marketing pros to innovate and team up with clients to drive traffic to vibrant places and send messages that pack a punch.