20 Types of SEO Keywords You Should Know (Plus Examples)

Cait Carter
Published: Jan 23, 2024
Last Updated:
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If there’s one thing that sets a casual blogger apart from a focused content creator, it’s the use of search engine optimization (SEO) keywords. Whether you want to or not, you communicate with search engines like Google every time you put content on your website.  By paying attention to SEO keywords, you can communicate effectively with the algorithms and impart valuable knowledge to users with the content you’ve created.

By knowing different types of SEO keywords and how and when to use them, you create a map of authoritative, credible content that Google can use to understand your website. As a result, you’ll find that your web pages rank higher on SERPs, generate more organic traffic, and convert more of your leads into paying customers.

This guide is not just an SEO keywords list. It also provides examples of keywords in practice, information on keyword research, and guidance on how to weave keywords into your content naturally and compellingly. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have the confidence you need to begin using keywords like an expert.

The Importance of Keywords in SEO

Did you know that 68% of all online activity starts in a search engine? Even with the popularity of social media, the majority of people who go online are looking for answers to their questions. When you consider the fact that the number one search result receives almost a third of all clicks, while fewer than 1% of users make it to the second page of search results, it becomes clear that increasing your SEO is key to increasing your organic traffic.

Using keywords effectively teaches search engines, like Google, which questions your pages are best suited to answer. As a result, you’ll find yourself climbing those rankings and improving your organic traffic.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Keywords 

There was a time when you could put keywords almost anywhere on your website—as many times as you wanted—and it could only help your search engine ratings. We’ve come a long way since then, for the better, thanks to Google Search’s Helpful Content Update. One of its most recent updates in September 2023 placed an emphasis on rewarding helpful content that is created to benefit people first, not search engines. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use keywords at all. There’s been much debate about whether SEO is dead. The truth is that SEO is alive and well, but it’s not the same lead generation channel we once knew either. AI and Search Generative Experiences have put to rest outdated practices, like keyword stuffing and over-optimization, and ushered in new organic SEO strategies. 

Kelly Ayres, SEO Director at Jordan Digital Marketing, explains it best in the above clip from our RIP to SEO webinar. If you want to get the most out of your SEO keywords in today’s content landscape, your writing has to match your audience’s search intent. In order to address your user’s entire search experience, you need to create personalized, UX-driven content with unique points of view. 

Prioritize creating original, high-quality content, and you’ll be surprised at how seamlessly you can weave in your target and related keywords. When your audience reads your content, it should feel as organic and authentic as possible—almost as if you hadn’t done any research on the right words to use.

How To Find SEO Keywords

Finding the perfect keywords for your site takes a bit of research and a bit of trial and error.

The first step is brainstorming things you think your customers might be searching for. For example: If you sell sneakers, you might do some word association around sneakers. In addition to sneakers themselves, your customers might be looking for footwear, running shoes, or trainers.

Understanding different types of SEO keywords can improve your brainstorming session.

<div class="tip">If you know your target audience’s search intent, then you can leverage keywords that match their intent and create either informational content that educates or transactional content that gets them to convert.</div>

For optimal results, consider working with experienced writers who specialize in SEO content. Hire a professional writer to help you effectively use keywords that match your target audience's search intent and enhance your content's impact.

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of potential keywords, you can use SEO keyword generators to locate common search terms related to those keywords. SEO keyword research tools like Ahrefs or Ubersuggests often include Google Trends and Google Analytics, allowing you to see not only which keywords are associated with the words you thought of, but which keywords are most important to—and searched most often by—your target audience.

SEO Keywords List: 20 Types Plus Examples

Not all keywords are created equally. Understanding not only which keywords are high-ranking, but also how those keywords are being used, is critical to implementing keywords effectively. We’ve segmented 20 types of keywords based on how they’re used so you can understand how to work them into your content.

Keywords Based on Their Relevancy to Your Page

Each page of content on your website should be created with a purpose in mind. Keeping a list of primary and secondary keywords for each page helps you focus on your purpose and prevents your website content from competing with itself for the same search engine positions.

Primary Keywords

Your primary keyword is the one thing you want to ensure your content ranks for, above and beyond anything else. Consider this word your page’s focus. If your page were to hit the number one spot on a search engine, this is the keyword that should be ranking in the top position. For example, if your business is launching a new content marketing service, then its product page might target the primary keyword “content marketing service.”

Keep in mind: Each page on your site should only have one primary keyword. Furthermore, no two pages on your site should have the same primary keyword. This is because there is only one number-one spot on Google for any single keyword. If multiple pages on your site have the same one, you’re essentially doing double the work for zero payoff and causing keyword cannibalization. As a result, neither page will perform as well as it could.

Secondary or LSI Keywords

Secondary or latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords refer to keywords on your page that are related to your primary keyword and help bolster its effectiveness. For example: If your primary keyword was “glass water bottles,” some LSI keywords might include the following:

  • Eco-friendly water bottles
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Plastic water bottle alternatives

These keywords are directly related to your primary keyword and reassure search engines that your content has the information its searchers are looking for. When these LSI keywords are typed into search engines, your page still has the potential to rank high, because the search engines understand that they’re related and your content is relevant.

Keywords Based on Length

Although the term “keyword” would tend to imply a length of one word, keywords come in varying lengths — from short or one-word “seed” keywords to long and incredibly specific phrases. Using a mixture of longer and shorter keywords is important to every SEO strategy.

Short-Tail or Seed Keywords

Short-tail or seed keywords are a single word long. As a result, they are incredibly generic and hard to rank for. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. If your company sells tea, you should use the keyword “tea” throughout your website. But it’s important to know that one page of content is unlikely to be enough to have your website be the first result for “tea.” Instead, sprinkle the word throughout the entirety of your site so that search engines understand that “tea” is an important keyword to your brand as a whole.

Mid-Tail Keywords

Mid-tail keywords are two to three words long, and are slightly more descriptive than short-tail keywords but are still quite hard to rank for. Think of words like:

  • Green tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Tea for bedtime

Mid-tail keywords are great when used in product titles or category names, or as LSI keywords on content pages. However, because they’re so hard to rank for, it’s rarely a good idea to use mid-tail keywords as primary keywords unless you’re already a well-known brand with a lot of search engine traction.

Long-Tail Keywords

On average, click-through-rates are higher for longer keywords compared to shorter terms (2.62x more). A long-tail keyword capitalizes on this fact. It helps the smallest brands have a chance at being the number one search result for niche keywords unique to what they provide. Examples of long-tail keywords include:

  • Best decaffeinated tea to drink while pregnant
  • Is it safe to drink green tea while breastfeeding?
  • Where does tea come from?
  • Is tea a vegetable?

As you can see, unlike short- or mid-tail keywords, long-tail keywords tend to be more specific. As a result, they have fewer search results per month. But there also tends to be less competition for these long-tail keywords, making them strong options for primary keywords for content pages.

Keywords Based on Trendiness

When you think about keywords in terms of trendiness, you’re considering how long the keyword will be relevant. A strong content marketing strategy uses a mix of keywords that are currently trendy and keywords that will stand the test of time.

Short-Term or Fresh Keywords

Short-term or fresh keywords may have a spike in traffic during a specific period but then die down very quickly. This could include:

  • Holiday-specific keywords, which will only be relevant during certain times of the year
  • Date-specific keywords, which will only be relevant this one year
  • Event-specific keywords, which may receive a boost in traffic due to something happening in the world at large — but will likely become irrelevant in a few months

Using these keywords can be a good strategy to bring new leads to your site during a specific period. However, you want to use them sparingly, because traffic from these types of keywords is not sustainable. Examples of short-term keywords are:

  • Best stocking stuffers of [year] (date-specific)
  • What to do in New York in the summer (time-of-year specific)
  • What is the “Tell Me Without Telling Me” TikTok Fad? (event-specific)

Long-Term or Evergreen Keywords

Long-term or evergreen keywords won’t become dated in a few months. Some websites using evergreen keywords are still the top results for those search queries years after the content is produced. Examples of evergreen keywords include:

  • Gross motor activities to do with toddlers
  • Classic books worth rereading
  • 5 easy ways to make your home more eco-friendly

The goal of evergreen keywords is to create content that is always relevant. Although they may not create the same buzz for your site that short-term keywords create, they are reliable in the long term, and you can generally count on the amount of organic traffic they will drive to your site.

Keywords Based on Target Demographics

Using keywords to narrow down your target demographics helps search engines showcase your content to the right people. This can improve the percentage of new leads who find your content relevant and reduce your bounce rate.

Geo-Targeting Keywords

Geo-targeting keywords identify the location where your information is relevant.

For some e-commerce companies who service large swathes of the world, geo-targeting keywords may be unnecessary — or they may be broad, short-tail keywords like “USA” or “global.” But for companies who service a specific location or area, geo-targeting keywords can be critical to their success.

Consider, for instance, customers who search for “restaurants near me.” Search engines return results based on geo-targeted keywords on restaurant websites, comparing that information to the searcher’s location.

Customer-Targeting Keywords

Customer-targeting keywords help narrow your leads down to those most likely to purchase your product. For example: If you run a women’s clothing boutique, “for women” would be a customer-targeted keyword.

Using these types of keywords — especially in your titles — helps search engines bolster your site’s rankings when a member of your target audience is doing the searching.

Keywords Based on Search Intent

When customers start an internet search, they have a specific intent in mind. They might be looking for information about a topic, they may be looking to buy a product, or they may be looking to locate a specific type of company. Keeping this in mind, you can target customers with specific intents when you use certain types of keywords.

Informational Keywords

Informational keywords target customers who are looking to learn about a topic. Examples of informational keywords include:

  • What can you eat when you’re pregnant?
  • How to repair your printer
  • What is electronica?

These leads aren’t necessarily looking to make a purchase. But when your company’s page ranks for these types of questions, you build brand awareness and position yourself as an authority on the topic.

Navigational Keywords

These keywords indicate that an audience member is looking for something very specific. Typically, users are trying to navigate to a certain website, page, or product when searching navigational keywords (it’s in the name)! For example:

  • Old Navy website
  • HubSpot FAQs
  • Bombas About Us

Navigational keywords are effective because they suggest your audience already has an established familiarity with your brand.

Transactional Keywords

Transactional keywords target customers who are looking to make a purchase. Examples include things like:

  • Coupon
  • Discount
  • Price of
  • How much can I expect to pay?

Using transactional keywords targets leads at a critical point in the decision-making process and can lead to an increase in lead conversion rates.

Commercial Keywords

Commercial keywords should be used throughout content if your target audience is still learning before making a purchase decision. There’s a good amount of research involved in this stage. For example, prospects may be comparing your brand to your competitors: 

  • Disney World vs Universal
  • Best
  • Top 10
  • High-quality

Keywords Based on Your Business

Although the majority of your keywords target your customers and their intents, it’s important for some of your keywords to also align with your business and what your business needs.

Branded Keywords

On the occasion that a customer decides to search for your business by name, you want to ensure that your business is the top search result. Branded keywords are used to do just that. By peppering your content with your brand’s name, you ensure that search engines know that your content is associated with your brand. It’s especially critical that your home page has your brand’s name throughout so that it ranks number one whenever someone searches for your company. For example, on our homepage, we mention “Compose.ly” 11 times.

Market Segment Keywords

Market segment keywords define the industry that you’re in. For example, if you’re a pest control company, your market segment keywords would include the different pests you control for. Defining your business in this way ensures that when people are looking for your specific industry, your brand has the opportunity to show up.

Product-Defining Keywords

Product-defining keywords are specific keywords that tell customers exact information about your products. These are keywords like:

  • 18 fl oz bamboo water bottle
  • 8×10 blue-and-green striped area rug
  • Chrome-tinted vegan eyeshadow

These long, technical keywords don’t slot naturally into blog posts or social media content. But when you use them for product descriptions or titles, they can be impactful, helping customers who are on the hunt for something very specific.

Competitor Keywords

It may seem strange to use your competitor’s name on your website. After all, if you own Nike, the last thing you want is for your customers to be thinking about Adidas — or is it?

If your customers have done their research, they already know who your main competitors are. They may even love your competitors. By using your competitors’ brand names as keywords on your website, you increase your chances of showing up when people are searching for products similar to what your competitor sells.

To fold this in naturally — and ethically, without slamming your competition — tie their brand’s keywords to things that set your brand apart, or even offer comparisons that compliment your competition. Examples include:

  • Budget-friendly alternatives to Air Jordans
  • Books for People Who Loved Harry Potter
  • High-fashion sandals as comfy as your favorite Crocs

Google Ads Keywords

Using keywords when setting up Google Ads is a little different from using SEO keywords for content creation. It’s important to understand the different types of Google Ads keywords so that your paid traffic is just as targeted as your organic traffic.

Identifying different types of Google Ad Keywords and using them to your benefit is a balancing act. Go too broad and you’ll pay for leads who aren’t looking for the product you’re trying to sell. But narrow your sampling too much and you won’t generate the traffic you’re looking for.

Broad Match Keywords

Broad match keywords allow your advertisement to show up when someone searches for a term or terms similar to it. For example, if you were trying to sell sneakers, allowing broad match keywords might also return results for running shoes, basketball shoes, or trainers.

Phrase Match Keywords

Phrase match keywords require searchers to use an exact phrase, which you designate, in their search. For example: If your phrase was “double stroller,” the words “double stroller,” in that order, would have to appear in the search for your ad to show up. “Stroller for two” wouldn’t count, nor would “double-wide stroller.” However, “best double stroller” would still count since the word “best” did not interrupt the phrase “double stroller.”

Exact Match Keywords

Exact match keywords are designed to only return results when searchers look for exactly the phrase you type — or very close variants, such as common misspellings or making something plural instead of singular. Using exact match keywords may turn up fewer results than phrase match or broad match keywords, but can allow you to pinpoint the exact search term your page is best suited for.

Negative Keywords

Your negative keyword list is a list of words that, if used, will prevent your ad from showing up. This is good if there is a topic that uses similar keywords to your brand but is in a very different industry.

For example, some people call sneakers “kicks.” But if you’re selling sneakers, you don’t want to pay for advertising for Kix, the cereal. So you might choose to include “breakfast” or “cereal” as negative keywords. Or, if you find that people come across your ad when searching for cool martial arts kicks, you may choose to exclude “martial arts” from your search results by making it a negative keyword.

Implement a Variety of SEO Keywords to Maximize Results

With 20 different types of keywords to use, it’s no wonder that keyword stuffing once had its heyday. But search engine algorithms are getting smarter by the day, and shoving all of your keywords together at the bottom of an article is no longer a viable keyword strategy. The more you can implement different types of keywords — naturally, and without keyword stuffing — the more likely you are to improve your search ratings today and continue to thrive through future search engine updates.

One great option is to make lists of your keywords, segmented into different types. Then, when determining your primary and secondary keywords for a page, you can pull from a few different areas — making sure to hit on different audiences and intents with each keyword you use. A targeted keyword strategy, combined with a dedication to writing natural-sounding content and using keywords only as they come up naturally, will lead to better search engine results.

Get started today by brainstorming a list of potential keywords for each of the keyword types listed above. Then, see how those words group together to form natural topics for discussion on your blog.


How often should you review and update your SEO keywords to stay relevant?

Ah, a content marketer's favorite question. SEO keywords should be reviewed and updated regularly, at least quarterly, or in response to significant changes in your industry, search engine algorithms (Hi, Google), or business objectives to ensure continued relevance and effectiveness.

How do you balance the use of trending keywords with evergreen keywords to maintain a stable SEO presence?

Use trending keywords for timely, topical content to capture short-term traffic spikes or thought leadership, and evergreen keywords in foundational content to provide long-term value and consistent organic traffic.

Can using too many different types of SEO keywords on one page harm your SEO performance?

Absolutely. Using too many different types of keywords on one page can dilute the focus and confuse your audience, leading to keyword cannibalization. Focus on a primary keyword and use related secondary keywords to support it if SEO effectiveness is what you're after.

What’s the impact of voice search on selecting SEO keywords, and how should they be incorporated?

Voice search impacts SEO keywords by favoring more conversational, long-tail phrases. Use natural language and question-based phrases in your content to align with how people speak. Just think of the last time you asked a question.

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