Keyword research tools like aHrefs allow you to find good target keywords to supercharge your content marketing strategies
What is an SEO Keyword?
March 14, 2022
Peter Yeargin

What are SEO Keywords?

SEO Keywords are specifically-structured phrases that help search engines decide which pages to recommend first when a user searches for a particular item. If you’ve ever wondered “ how does google know what i want to search ” this is the reason. In essence, it helps Google decide the likelihood that your page is going to solve the question the searcher wants answered. Based on an algorithm that looks through these keywords, the web browser will then decide where on the results page your page will reside. When beginning to research a given topic it’s important to make sure that your SEO keywords are effective!

How do I find Keywords?

In short, LOTS of research. There are many sites that can give you search engine results, and by repeatedly combing through the results for a topic you want to target, you will build up a list of these words. The most critical part of this is to keep updating your keyword list – just like the internet, the best keywords are always changing. Old keywords need to be replaced with new, higher-performing keywords, and a diversity of keywords will make sure that you appear for many searches, not just for one or two specific ones.

How many keywords for SEO?

Think about SEO as if you are casting a net. When beginning to research a given topic, it’s important to make sure you’re casting a good net. The more keywords you implement, the finer the net is, and thus you will catch more fish. Without a lot of keywords, your net will have large holes that let many potential fish go. If you don’t update your keywords, it will be like fishing in an area where all the fish have already been caught – there won’t be many left gor you! 

If you have a lot of keywords, but they aren’t diverse and merely laser-focus on one area, it will be like fishing with a very narrow net – you will catch everything in a very short area, but you are limited by the area you can fish. Instead, when asking how many keywords to use for SEO, the best strategy involves using many current and diverse keywords to catch a wide, fine net that will bring you the biggest catch of clicks and views!

What types of Keywords are there?

There are 8 main types of SEO Keywords: Short-Tail, Long-Tail, Product-Centric, Customer-Centric, Geo-Centric, Short-Term, Long-Term, and Intent Targeting.


Short Tail Keywords are typically 3 words or less, and used by customers when they are at the initial stage of research. These keyword sentence look-alikes are typically higher-volume, but convey less search intent. This is because there can be many reasons for a short phrase. Most keyword research services focus on this type of keyword.

For example, if a user searched the term “why chocolate white” they could be referring to an old piece of chocolate with that weird white powder on it, or they might be looking into the benefits of using white chocolate over dark chocolate for a mousse. The point is that many short-tail keywords reflect multiple intents, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful. Because of the simplicity of these keywords, they will often be very helpful because they have high volume, even if a targeted positive keyword list is more efficient.


What is considered a long tail keyword? Long-Tail Keywords are longer terms that convey much more intent than short-tail keywords. These longer phrases will often have lower volume, but also much lower competition, making it easier to capitalise on their searchers. This is because when you understand how to find long tail keyword phrases, you find users searching for a very specific item.

For example, if a user searched the term “is chocolate with white dust edible,” the intent becomes much easier to discern. Use these keywords to directly target specific searches that you know you can capitalise on. If you’re wondering how to look for long tail keyword matches, look for long keywords with high intent and lower volume. Both long tail and short tail keyword strategies are effective, so use both to catapult your viewership!

A chart showing the difference in Short, Medium, and Long – Tail Keywords


Focusing on targeted keyword lists for YOUR website, the Product-Centric Keyword is used to direct consumers with a need towards your product or website. These keywords are used by searchers in the early stages of buying a product or finding a solution, and are often traits of a product that they need to find. These words often have high search intent and conversion, and can be competitive should the product be generic enough (like water, or toothpaste).

For example, someone searching for a new computer may search “work laptop thin” or “powerful workstation laptop” which clearly shows their intent. When capitalising on these keywords, make sure to find the defining features of your product and emphasise those words over and over again.


These are keywords that target who your market is. Is it older or younger? Male or female? Is there a specific occupation you are targeting, like marketers or doctors? These keywords are used to cast a net towards your specific market. Make sure that it is clear in your keywords who you are targeting to draw those demographics in.

A great example of this is high-end watercolour brushes. Say your website sells expensive, professional grade brushes. The customer-centric keywords you would use have to be directly targeted at  this demographic. A strong example of using keywords would be words like professional, artist-grade, and sable hair, because these words will draw in the target demographic.


Geo-Centric keywords are used when location is of specific importance to the business. These keywords are often uncompetitive due to the specificity of location, and can be very effective in directing eyes to your pages. For local businesses and niche products, location-based niche words research can be very powerful.

For example, if you are the only supplier of washing machines in the entire city, it is of great importance to emphasise where you are located. Saying “Burlington, Vermont washing machine repair” will draw many eyes from the region, whereas simply “washing machine repair” will attempt to compete with every washing machine repair shop on the internet.


These are SEO keywords that capitalise on trends and fads that drive a sharp spike in demand before fading into obscurity. These are time-sensitive, and depending on the scale of the trend it may be quite competitive, but it can be a massive driver of growth as well. These SEO keywords often have very high intent and conversion because of their trendy nature.

For example, using keywords related to the NFL playoff game between the Bills and the Patriots will not only date this article, but also drive very high interest for a few days before, during, and after the game, but will be almost irrelevant a few weeks from now when there are newer games. 


As logic would follow, these are SEO words whose search volume increases and decreases slightly, but remains mostly constant over an extended period of time. These keywords are normally quite competitive, but can sustain extended traffic over long periods of time due to their perpetual relevancy. 

For example, an SEO keyword like “how to make taco seasoning” will continue to be just as relevant in 5 years as it is today, and so it will see roughly the same volume in that period.


Whenever a searcher conducts a search, it falls into 3 keyword match types: informational, commercial, and transactional. Informational searches are things the user wants to know more about, and aim to educate the reader. These searches often have very high intent, and can be great to target for blogs and other informational sites. Commercial searches are the first steps of purchasing a product. These searches are conducted to find information on a product and make a purchase decision. These keywords are very important for sales, as they direct customer focus towards their product instead of others. Lastly, transactional keywords are directly used in the purchase. These SEO keywords are used to compare products and find the best value, making them very important in competing with other businesses across the web.

For example, the keyword “what is difference between park and downhill ski” is an informational keyword – the buyer wants to know which type of ski to buy. Then, this may be followed by “best beginner downhill ski,” which is an example of a commercial search. This search will lead them to, for example, a pair of Rossignol SMASH 7 skis, at which point the prospective buyer may search “Rossignol smash 7 for sale” which would be the transactional keyword that leads to a purchase following a price comparison on multiple sites.



A positive keyword is a term that is flagged by Google to be prioritised by the algorithm. In much the same way Adsense places importance on keywords an advertiser bids on, positive keywords are used to determine which websites are displayed on the search results page. All SEO keywords are positive keywords from the point of view of the writer.

How do different types of positive keywords interact with conversion and competition?


While Adwords has negative keyword match types, SEO does not account for negative keywords. They play no part in SEO strategy for a webpage, although the feature is helpful in Adwords.


Google Adsense uses an SEO-like algorithm to pair ads with viewers. A phrase match means that only when the exact phrase you specify is searched does your ad appear. When asked which of the following represents a phrase match keyword, a phrase match example could be “ski mask black,” where only when the user enters a search containing the exact phrase “ski mask black” is your ad shown.

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