A successful search strategy is built on targeting the right types of keywords. When you identify your best keyword opportunities, you can drive the most traffic, qualified leads, and conversions for your brand.
To know which types of keywords will work best in your strategy, you first need to know all of your options. Use this post as your go-to resource for the types of keywords you should know for SEO and SEM:
18 Types of Keywords with Examples
Types of Targeting Keywords
Targeting keywords are the phrases and terms tied to your industry, offerings, and audience.
The types of keywords included in this category are:
- Market segment keywords
- Customer-defining keywords
- Product keywords
- Branded keywords
- Competitor keywords
- Geo-targeted keywords
Market Segment Keywords
Market segment keywords are generic keywords associated with an industry or brand. They are terms a target audience uses to search for general information within a vertical. Terms may be broadly associated with an industry or more defined for niche marketing purposes.
Example: running shoes
Customer-defining keywords are search phrases that identify a specific subset of customers or audience. In these searches, customers use words or phrases to define themselves.
Example: running shoes for women
Product keywords are terms related to specific brand offerings. These types of keywords are phrases that directly reference a company’s products or services. Brands should have a keyword strategy for each of their products and services so customers and prospects can find their offerings through search.
Example: Nike Flex Contact
Branded keywords are search phrases that include a brand’s name or other branded terms. These types of keywords may include only the brand name or the brand name along with a product type, product name, or another descriptive search phrase.
Example: Nike running shoes
Competitor keywords are types of keywords that target brand names of competing businesses, products, or services. It’s beneficial for a brand to research competitor keywords because it gives the brand an opportunity to attract a similar audience of interested, potential buyers
Click & Tweet!
Example: For Nike, a competitor keyword could be Reebok running shoes.
Geo-targeted keywords are search phrases that identify a location. Searchers who use these terms are looking for results that are near them, or in another area they are interested in.
Example: Tampa running shoe store
Types of Keywords by Length
Another way to evaluate and choose keywords is by their length.
There are three types of keywords described by their length:
- Short-tail keywords (also known as head, broad, or generic keywords)
- Mid-tail keywords
- Long-tail keywords
Head Keywords or Short-Tail Keywords
Head keywords, also known as generic keywords, are popular, broad search terms that have a very high volume of search traffic. These terms are usually one or two words, and they are very competitive to rank for.
Example: running shoes
Mid-tail keywords fall between head keywords, which have a high volume of traffic but are highly competitive, and long-tail keywords, which have a small volume of traffic but with less competition and higher conversion rates. These terms are usually two to three words and are slightly more descriptive than generic head keywords.
Example: best running shoes
Long-tail keywords are the longest search terms and are very targeted to a specific topic or audience. These terms typically have low search traffic and are low-competition keywords, which makes them easier to rank for. Because they are more specific, they generally have higher conversion rates than head and mid-tail keywords.
Example: best running shoes for bad knees
Types of On-Site Keywords
On-site content keywords refer to the types of keywords in SEO that are used to create content like a new blog post or landing page. These types of keywords are:
- Primary keywords
- Related or LSI keywords
A primary keyword is the main term you target on a webpage. Each page of SEO content should have one primary keyword assigned to it. The page should follow keyword optimization best practices to send clear signals to search engines and readers that the page is about that keyword. Following these best practices will help improve your search traffic and rank for that content and keyword.
Example: women’s running shoes
Related Keywords or LSI Keywords
Related keywords or LSI keywords (latent semantic keywords) are terms or phrases that are semantically related to, or variations, or synonyms of, a primary keyword. They are used to support a primary keyword in a piece of content. Each webpage should be assigned one primary keyword and three to four related keywords that give additional context to the page, which helps search engines understand and better rank the page. You can find related keywords using Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix or Keyword Difficulty Tool.
Example: If the primary keyword is women’s running shoes, then related keywords could be: women’s running shoes reviews, women’s running shoes sales, and best women’s running shoes.
Types of Google Ads Keywords
There are certain types of keywords in Google AdWords (now known as Google Ads) that you will use to create targeted ad campaigns.
These types of keywords include:
- Broad match keywords
- Phrase match keywords
- Exact match keywords
- Negative keywords
Broad Match Keywords
A broad match keyword is a search term you target in a Google Ads search campaign. When a term is set as a broad match keyword, it tells Google to show your ad for any search that is a variation of that keyword. The ad will show if someone searches for a similar phrase, singular or plural form, misspelling, stemming, synonym, or another related variation of the broad match term.
Example: An ad for the broad match keyword shoes would show during searches for terms such as shoe, shoes for sale, shoe store, or buy shoes.
Phrase Match Keywords
A phrase match keyword is a specific search phrase you target in a Google Ads search campaign. When a term is set as a phrase match keyword, it tells Google to only show your ad if a search query includes the exact phrase. The search query may have words that come before or after the phrase, but the exact phrase must be included in the search for it to show to searchers.
Example: An ad for the phrase match keyword womens shoes would show during searches for terms such as womens shoe sale, womens shoe stores, and stores for womens shoes.
Exact Match Keywords
An exact match keyword is a specific keyword you target in a Google Ads search campaign. When a term is set as an exact match keyword, it tells Google to only show your ad if the search is extremely closely related to the exact match keyword. Words that fit this criterion are misspellings, singular or plural forms, stemmings, abbreviations, reordered words, paraphrases, or closely related words with the same search intent of the exact match keyword.
Example: An ad for the exact match keyword womens shoes would show for searches for terms like woman shoes, shoes women, or shoes for women.
Negative keywords are phrases or terms that you intentionally exclude from search campaigns within Google Ads. They are variations of broad match, phrase match, and exact match keywords that you tell Google to stop including in your campaign. These Google Ad terms are set as negative keywords because they don’t closely relate to the ad copy, target page content, or offer associated with the ad. They may be semantically related, but they don’t connect with the ad concept.
Example: If a broad match keyword is shoe sale and the ad is only relevant to women’s shoes, negative keywords could be men’s shoes, shoes for guys, or men’s shoe sale.
Types of Buyer Keywords
Buyer keywords are the terms a searcher uses when they are looking to purchase a product or service. These types of keywords are categorized by where a searcher is in the purchase funnel. Each type of buyer keyword represents a different type of search intent.
There are three types of buyer keywords:
- Informational keywords
- Navigational keywords
- Transactional keywords
Informational keywords, or “know” keywords, are terms users search for when they want to find general information about a topic. Searchers use informational keywords when they are in the awareness phase of the purchase funnel. They are aware they have a need or problem, are aware they want a solution, and are looking for ways to do that.
Example: what’s the best running shoe
Navigational keywords, or “go” keywords, are terms users search for when they want to visit a website for a specific brand. Searchers often use navigational keywords when they are in the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. They are researching different brands to see which offers the best solution to their problem.
Example: Nike running shoes
Transactional keywords, or “do” keywords, are terms users search for when they are ready to make a purchase. Searchers use transactional keywords when they are in the conversion phase of the purchase funnel. They already know what they want to buy, and they use very specific buying keywords to help them find the right place to make their purchase.
Example: best deals on Nike running shoes
Find the Right Types of Keywords for Your Marketing Plan
Knowing the different types of keywords helps you create a more informed and strategic marketing plan. When you know all of your options, you can find the best keywords to help you connect with your target audience, drive search traffic, and boost conversions.
Learn how to surface your best keyword opportunities in How to Do Keyword Research: A Comprehensive Guide.