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Advanced SEO Textbook
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What is a Keyword?

From short tail and long tail to evergreen and product defining, we take a look at the various kinds of keywords and how they differ in search intent.

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A keyword serves as the cornerstone of the content on your page; it defines the core topic that your content is centred around. When it comes to SEO, a keyword (or “search query”) helps search engines understand the content on your page better, with the purpose of providing users with the best answer possible to their query.

Types of Keywords

Targeting the right keywords is key to building a successful SEO strategy. In order to do this, you need to understand and identify the best keyword opportunities that will drive the most traffic, generate the most qualified leads and convert best for your company.

Before you can do that though, you need to know your options for the different types of keywords.

Short Tail Keywords

As the name suggests, a short tail keyword is short! Made up of just one or two words, short tail keywords (sometimes referred to as a “primary/generic/core keywords”) have a large search volume and are highly competitive; which means that they will enable you to reach the widest audience, but can be extremely difficult to rank for. Why?

Let’s take a look at an example: chocolate

When someone searches for the term “chocolate”, they might be searching for information about how chocolate is made, or they may want to purchase chocolate.

Short Tail Keywords

Therefore, it’s very difficult to glean the search intent for such keywords and as a result, broad keywords do not convert well.

It’s very difficult to meet the exact search intent for generic (short-tail) keywords

Characteristics and Application:

  • high search volume
  • high competition
  • vague search intent
  • low conversion rate
  • to be used as a recurring keyword that consistently appears on your website.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords consist of four or more words, have lower search volumes and thus, are easier to rank for. This is because long tail keywords target a specific topic or audience, making it easier to pinpoint the user’s search intent for the query.

Example: how to make modelling chocolate

Characteristics and Application:

  • low search volume
  • low competition
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • to be used for targeted pages covering a specific topic i.e. product pages or blog posts
Long Tail Keywords

Fresh Keywords

Fresh keywords are search phrases based on topics that have been, or are currently, popular and as a result, offer great short term results.

Example: coronavirus

As you can see here, the search interest for the keyword “coronavirus” had little to no search demand until mid-February which is when the virus started to spread outside of China and peaked halfway through the month of March.

Coronavirus Keyword Trends

Characteristics and Application:

  • high search volume usually only for a short period of time
  • high competition usually for a short period of time
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • to be used to create content that is up-to-date

Evergreen Keywords

Evergreen keywords are queries that will stay relevant for a long time with no extreme changes in interest. This type of keyword is usually targeted for informational or educational topics which will stand the test of time and consistently bring in traffic.

Example: how far away is the moon

We can see that the interest for this search query has seen minor fluctuations, but has still maintained popularity over time.

How far is the moon Keyword

Characteristics and Application:

  • moderate search volume over time
  • medium competition over time
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • to be used to create detailed informational content that can be updated over time

Product Defining Keywords

Product defining keywords directly reference specific products or services that a company offers. Searches searching for these kinds of keywords already know what they are looking for and are the first stage of making a purchase. Therefore, it’s a matter of providing the searcher with the final details about the product/service in order to convince them to click through to checkout.

Example: snickers chocolate bar

Characteristics and Application:

  • low search volume
  • low competition
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • to be used on product pages

Customer Defining Keywords

Customer defining keywords are search queries that target a specific demographic of customers or target audience.

Example: milk chocolate for vegans

Characteristics and Application:

  • low search volume
  • low competition
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • use it to target specific subsets of your audience directly

Branded Keywords

As the name suggests, branded keywords are search phrases that include a brand’s name or a combination of the brand name with a product or other related search query.

Example: Nike running shoes

Characteristics and Application:

  • low search volume (* usually, but it might vary)
  • low competition (* usually, but it’s also difficult to rank for these keywords as in most cases the top 10 will be taken by the brand’s assets)
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • use it to target core landing pages i.e. product page

Geo-Targeted Keywords

Geo-targeted keywords are search phrases that are related to a specific location – this can be a country, city or even a specific neighbourhood. Such queries are especially important for local businesses who want to enhance their Local SEO by targeting customers within their locality.

Example: chocolate factory in London (but also chocolate factory near me)

Characteristics and Application:

  • low search volume
  • low competition
  • specific search intent
  • high conversion rate
  • crucial for local businesses or pages targeting a specific location

Market Segment Keywords

Market segment keywords are broad queries used to search for general information within an industry or brand.

Example: milk chocolate

Characteristics and Application:

  • high search volume
  • high competition
  • broad search intent
  • low conversion rate
  • mainly used for the category or core landing pages

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