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12 types of SEO keywords and when to use them

SEO keywords are a highly crucial part of creating SEO-friendly content. They can help you reach your target audience and get a better Google search ranking. However, to know how to utilize keywords the right way, you first need to be familiar with all the different types of SEO keywords.

Twelve major types of SEO keywords can be roughly categorized into four keyword groups. Here’s what they look like and when you should be using them for your content.

What are SEO Keywords?

Let’s first discuss what SEO keywords are. SEO keywords can be words or even phrases that online users search for on the Internet to find relevant information, services, and products.

Google and other search engines also use these phrases and keywords in order to categorize and rank content online.

When creating and using keywords, your aim should be to create an efficient keyword that will align with what your target audience is looking up on the Internet. Your keywords should also align with internet search engines and their criteria for sorting out and ranking content.

Efficient, clear, and direct keywords will help the search engines better understand your website as well as categorize it online.

For instance, if you were to type “what is an algorithm” into the Google search bar, you would get the top related content based on the indexed information. In this case, the top of the page would represent a definition of the word or phrase you looked up, along with a few additional suggested questions and similar content.

So, if this kind of question is something that your potential customers would look up online, utilizing keywords surrounding that question and phrase would help your website reach a higher SEO ranking.

Types of Keywords

SEO keywords can be categorized into various types. The criteria for this categorization also vary.

Keywords can differ based on length, search intent, and whether they are for on-page SEO or for paid search.

To fully understand how to create and select efficient keywords, it’s important to know what types of SEO keywords are available and how you can research keywords and use them within your content.

SEO Keywords Based on Length

First and foremost, keyword length plays a huge role in reaching your potential customers online.

The two most common types of length-based keywords are generic and long-tail. There are other alternative mid-tail keywords in the middle, but those can also be regarded as a bit shorter version of long-tail keywords. So, let’s focus on the previous two categories only.

Short or generic keywords contain high search volumes and a high level of competition. Simple terms such as “digital marketing” fall under this category. These types of keywords usually consist of about 1 to 3 words.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are longer and more specific terms and phrases with a lower search volume and level of competition.

For example, “digital marketing for e-commerce business” would be an extended version of the previous generic keyword. You should use long-tail keywords whenever you want to reach a very specific target audience.

Long-tail keywords can help you find relevant audiences for your business, and the longer they are, the higher ranking you are likely to get on online search engines.

Focus on your business niche and use these two categories of keywords wisely.

SEO Keywords Based on Search Intent

If you want to create high-quality SEO-friendly content, the search intent behind your chosen keywords also matters.

The efficient choice of keywords can help you reach a very specific audience and target various types of leads that can help get your website ranked highly in search engines.

There are four types of keywords based on search intent:

  • informational keywords
  • commercial keywords
  • navigational keywords
  • transactional keywords

Informational keywords help users find relevant information about a certain topic, business, product, and so on.

If your goal is to target common user questions and provide valuable information to your target audience, you should use informational keywords. An example of an informational keyword would be: “What is on-page SEO?”

Navigational keywords assist users in finding the location of something. These keywords are especially useful for local SEO and can help small businesses find customers in their local area.

If you want to be extra specific about your location, you should aim to create a very long and specific long-tail keyword such as top digital marketing agencies in the United Kingdom or you can narrow it down to an even smaller region.

Commercial keywords carry a certain purchase intent and can help the customers find the best possible service or product that will meet their purchasing needs. One of the most straightforward commercial keywords usually looks like this: best SEO agency in the US.

Transactional keywords are usually the favorite in the field of e-commerce because they target customers with extremely high purchase intent.

You should use these keywords to reach your target audience through your service and product pages. An example of one such keyword would be: get on-page SEO services in the US.

SEO Keywords for On-Page SEO

The following types of keywords are highly useful when it comes to generating SEO-friendly and plagiarism-free content that will get your website ranked high on SERP for SEO keywords.

You probably already heard a lot about keyword optimization for SEO, but did you know that there are two major groups of SEO keywords you need to be familiar with for on-page SEO?

If you want to master the on-page SEO content, you need to know how to differentiate between primary keywords and LSI keywords.

You will be using primary keywords whenever you create new web pages or new pieces of content. You should be aiming to focus your content around this one primary or central keyword. This is the keyword your content will rank for.

For instance, if you want to target “digital marketing tactics” as a primary keyword, all you need to do is create content based on that topic and use that phrase as your primary keyword. Place it in your title, headings, meta description, and title tags. Also, make sure to mention it in the very first paragraph and a few times later throughout the text.

Does this mean your job is done as soon as you throw in a few central keywords in your content? Definitely not. This is where LSI keywords come in and help optimize your content in a variety of different forms.

You can use synonyms and variations of your primary keyword to create LSI keywords. If your central keyword is “digital marketing tactics”, your LSI keywords can be “digital marketing tips”, “digital marketing practices”, or “best digital marketing strategies”.

LSI keywords will help your content rank higher for several different versions of the primary keyword. It will also provide relevant context to search engines.

SEO Keywords for Paid Search

Lastly, you can also use keywords that are helpful when it comes to paid search advertising. These keywords, in particular, are the Google Ads keywords that push out the content to its target audience via ads.

There are four main types of SEO keywords in this category:

  • broad match keywords
  • phrase match keywords
  • exact match keywords
  • negative keywords

When you want to present Google ads for all of the variations of your target keyword, you should use broad match keywords. This means that your ads will include broad search terms that are within the scope of your target keyword in terms of meaning.

For example, if your target keyword is “bike shorts”, your ads for broad match keywords will also show keywords such as “buy bike shorts”, “buy shorts”, “black bike shorts”, etc.

If we apply this same exact example to phrase match keywords, the search query would require the same exact phrase as your keyword – “bike shorts”. In that case, the phrase match would apply to “buy bike shorts” but not “buy shorts” too. It will also apply to phrases with the same keyword but in different word order.

Exact match keywords need to have the same keywords, just like the name of this keyword type suggests. If we take the same example, an exact match will occur when the same words and in the same order are shown.

Lastly, negative keywords are more about what terms you want to exclude in your Google ads. When you’re creating search ads, these will be the terms you don’t want to show your ads for. All you need to do is add whichever keywords as negative terms, and your ads won’t be shown for queries that include that specific keyword. Here’s how that would look for the previous example:

  • bike shorts ✔
  • black bike shorts ✔
  • blue bike shorts ✘
  • shorts bike ✘


To sum up, efficient SEO keywords will help your website and content reach higher SEO rankings on Google Search and other search engines.

In order to know how to properly create and use keywords, you need to first be familiar with what types of keywords there are.

They can roughly be categorized into four groups based on their length, SEO intent, whether they are for on-page SEO and whether they are for paid search.

Once you master these four groups of SEO keywords, you will be able to optimize your content to reach your target audience and get a better search ranking.


This post was originally published at Find Digital Agency.

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