Whether you’re an SEO expert or a new website owner, you need to learn about different types of keywords. Targeting the right phrases during your marketing campaigns is vital for the brand’s long-term success making your investments much more effective.

In this article, we’ll talk about the most common keyword classifications, how to find primary keywords, and why you should focus on phrases relevant to your business.

Why are types of keywords important?

Having a deep understanding of your target phrases and semantics will have a major impact on our search engine optimization efforts. Basically, different types of keywords can produce different results, so pursuing the wrong ones usually leads to a senseless waste of money.

Nevertheless, it isn’t uncommon for an SEO expert to try several tactics and use various classes of phrases. For example, while most people shy away from short-tail keywords, as they’re hard to rank, you’ll likely create content for them sooner than later.

Here is how we can group all search engine phrases:

  • Based on intent
  • Based on length
  • Based on relevancy
  • Based on matching
  • Based on research
  • Based on priority

Keep in mind that a single phrase can fit into several categories. For example, it can be a long-tail keyword based on length, a niche keyword based on relevancy, and a transactional based on intent. By assessing all factors, you can find just the phrase for your specific business purposes.

How do irrelevant keywords affect your website?

During keyword research, you should always focus on relevant keywords. In the end, there’s no point in getting organic traffic for phrases that can’t improve your business and drive sales.

However, there’s an even bigger issue. If you start creating posts on topics that aren’t directly connected to your industry, you’ll dilute the website’s topical relevancy. Google and other search engines consider this factor when determining the importance of a site for a particular cluster of topics.

In other words, the more you write about similar subjects, the more you’ll be perceived as an authority on that topic category (i.e., finances or gardening). Writing about all sorts of stuff is counterproductive as it will, in theory, push all other pages down in search results.

So, even if you notice some “low-hanging fruits,” aka. good keyword opportunities, you shouldn’t pursue them if they’re unrelated to your business and target audience.

Different categories of keywords

Without further ado, let’s explain the different categories of keywords and how you can use them!

  1. Search intent

Based on keyword intent, we can split all phrases into:

  • Navigational keywords
  • Informational keywords
  • Commercial keywords
  • Transactional keywords

We also have two additional subcategories:

  • Branded keywords
  • Unbranded keywords

Navigational keywords

People use navigational keywords when looking for a specific website. For example, you can type phrases like “MiroMind” or “MiroMind blog” to reach our platform. These are highly targeted phrases where users know what they’re looking for. Even if other, more reputable websites pop up in the search results, they’ll still click on your site.

It’s worth mentioning that these terms aren’t necessarily the focus of your keyword research. Instead, they’re an indirect benefit of your branding efforts. Most of the people who use this phrase had some sort of interaction with your platform or have heard something positive about your business.

Given that navigational keywords usually revolve around broader categories, such as blog, contact page, or homepage, they don’t require new content. Instead, you can do fantastic optimization just by having these pages on site and making sure they’re properly indexed.

Informational keywords

This category of SEO keywords is perhaps the most common one. An informational keyword generally requires a blog post or similar informational content format. As the name indicates, these phrases are meant to increase visitors’ knowledge about a specific topic.

Good examples of these terms are “What is a stock?” or “Where to buy used cars?” While most information user searches come in the form of questions, but they can be partial phrases like “painting a fence” or “making carbonara.” Some of these are generic keywords, so it might be tricky to determine what the person is actually looking for.

This category isn’t necessarily commercial. As users are only interested in learning about a topic, they might leave your site immediately after reading a blog post. It is your goal to reroute them from landing pages to more converting product pages and try to sell them your product or service.

Commercial keywords

This category contains more lucrative keywords than informational class. When users search for commercial terms, they’re still in the process of learning about the industry and available products. They might use phrases like “Samsung TV review” or “Samsung vs. LG.”

Funny enough, they might not even land on your site when using a commercial keyword. Instead, they might go to several competitors’ platforms to learn about your product and service offering. Still, you need to create content around these phrases so you can manipulate the web discourse.

Maximizing the potential of commercial keywords has everything to do with your offer and online reputation as it has with SEO. In other words, you can get a lot of traction from these queries by simply having a good PR team that will improve your reputation. In other words, even if you don’t rank on top of SERPs for your website content, you might indirectly get value from these phrases.

Transactional keywords

In a perfect world, you should always focus on transactional phrases when intent-targeting keywords. These are highly commercial keywords with high search volume that can have the biggest impact on your bottom line. They’re the last step of the buyer’s journey, just as the user is getting ready to make a purchase. Transactional phrases usually contain the word “buy” coupled with a product name.

Unfortunately, other website owners are also aware of this fact, which is why there’s such fierce competition for these terms. Big, international brands usually litter the search engine results pages, and there’s little you can do to overtake them.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should never pursue transitional phrases. If the industry is brand new and there are no established brands, you might be able to rank for these search queries. In such cases, you can start making huge amounts of money overnight, and, what’s more important, you’ll plant the seeds for future industry domination.

Branded and unbranded keywords

Branded keywords are phrases that include your brand name and are commonly a subset of commercial and transactional phrases. For example, phrases like “MiroMind services” or “Is MiroMind a good provider?” Ideally, you should try to rank for phrases with high search volume that are related to your business.

Unbranded keywords are much more common as most web users focus on generic search terms. Unlike the previous category, they won’t have any brand names but might include the name of a product, service, or industry. For example, instead of “MiroMind services,” a user would type “SEO services.”

Branded phrases are much more relevant for your company and convert at a much higher rate. Still, for people to look for your company name, there needs to be a certain level of brand awareness.

  1. Length

Here’s how we classify phrases based on how many words they have:

  • Short tail keywords
  • Mid tail keywords
  • Long tail keywords

Short tail keywords

As the name indicates, this category of terms is rather short in length. It commonly consists of one or two words and is extremely general. Nevertheless, most search engines can recognize the user intent behind these phrases.

Short tail keywords have a much higher search volume than their longer counterparts, thus making them more lucrative. Unfortunately, as there’s high competition for these terms, SEO experts prefer pursuing their longer variations.

Mid tail keywords

Mid or medium tail keywords are somewhere between short and long tails and are considered the optimal choice for optimization. They’re long enough to garner enough organic traffic but aren’t as competitive as short tail phrases.

Long tail keywords

This category has the lowest volume and usually consists of 4, 5 words, and more. Long tail keywords have much lower competition making them easier to optimize. Pursuing these phrases is optimal if you’re a new and unestablished brand.

  1. Relevancy

Relevancy is a smaller category that’s worth a mention. Basically, we can split this group into niche keywords, industry keywords, and unrelated phrases.

As mentioned before, it’s vital that you always focus on terms that are close to your business. For example, if you’re a marketing blog, it’s normal to create content around general marketing topics but also niche topics like paid search ads, search engine optimization, or social media marketing.

Each of these phrases has its importance in the topical relevancy pantheon. On the other hand, irrelevant keywords will not only bring low-quality traffic but might also harm your optimization in the long run.

  1. Matching

Keyword match types are vital for your paid search. Here’s how we can classify these terms:

  • Broad match keywords
  • Phrase match keywords
  • Exact match keywords

Given that we’re talking about Google Ads, we also need to mention another related keyword category:

  • Negative keywords

Broad match keywords

When you use broad match phrases during PPC campaigns, your ad will be shown for all related keywords. For example, if you use “cheap suits,” your ads might be shown for “men’s suits” but also “cheap books.”

Broad search terms are usually cheaper than the other two categories but can also be shown for various types of ads. In other words, you might spend too much money on campaigns revolving around these terms with little to no impact.

Phrase match keywords

Phrase match terms are shown for search queries that have all words from the used keyword. For example, if you once again go with “cheap suits,” you might be shown for “cheap suits in NY” and “cheap women’s suits.” These ads are more targeted but more expensive.

Exact match keywords

Exact match terms are the most restrictive category. You can only rank for your primary keyword, its plural, and most common synonyms. These are often more expensive than the other two types of ads but can help you pinpoint the ideal target audience based on keyword intent.

Negative keywords

These types of keywords are only used during paid campaigns. With them, you can tell the platform which phrases it shouldn’t avoid. For example, if we use “cheap suits” for your broad match and “black” as your negative keyword, you will never be shown for queries that include “black.”

  1. Research

These types of keywords are only mentioned during keyword research and are commonly used for classification purposes. The category can include lots of different subphases, but we want to focus on the following ones:

  • Seed keywords
  • Competition keywords
  • Low search volume, low competition keywords
  • Low search volume, high competition keywords
  • High search volume, low competition keywords
  • High search volume, high competition keywords

Seed keywords

A seed keyword is the basic phrase you start your keyword research process with. If you’re in finances, you might start with “stocks,” “bonds,” or “derivatives.” Once you input this term in a keyword tool, you’ll get a list of suggestions that are related to your seed.

Competition keywords

It’s common for SEO experts to spy on their competitors’ rank. By tracking the phrases they rank for, they can find some easy victories for their website. Ideally, you should analyze competitors that have similar authority and link profiles as you. Otherwise, if you’re focusing on bigger blogs, you might not be able to rank for the same phrases.

Search/competition keywords

When looking for keyword ideas, you should always focus on phrases with high volume and low competition. In theory, these should be the most profitable ones. On the other hand, avoid terms that have high competition and low volume, as they’re not worth the trouble.

  1. Priority

This category involves primary and secondary phrases.

Primary keywords are terms that you’re targeting when creating content. Secondary phrases include various LSI keywords (latent semantic indexing keywords) related to this phrase that can help you boost rankings in search engines. You should use the primary keyword in titles and headings and add as many secondary phrases as you can.

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