Understanding Role of Keywords in SEO: The Definitive Guide

by | Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Keywords help search engines comprehend the information users are looking for and provide relevant results. When a user comes to a search engine such as Google or Yahoo and enters their query in the form of words, the search engine algorithm displays the most relevant result according to the intent of the entered word in the search query.

Here are a few examples of keywords that will help you understand them better

Take the example of someone who comes to Google looking to buy a mobile phone. This user might enter these keywords:

“Smartphone shops near me”


“Online smartphone deals”


“Best smartphone in the market under 500 dollars”


“iPhone store in Dallas”


“Mobile shop in Dallas.”

In these examples, the users try to make the search engine understand what they are looking for. According to the entered combination of words, the search engine will produce relevant results containing these particular keywords in their content on the web pages. 

Let’s analyze a particular keyword example from the above. We will use the keyword “mobile shop in Dallas.” 

Suppose a mobile shop website has used the keyword “mobile shop in Dallas” on its content page. In that case, it is more likely to get the top rank in the organic search results than a website that has used “iPhone store in Dallas” in its content for this particular query.

It is just a small example of a keyword’s importance for a search engine. As a search engine, Google processes about 99,000 searches every second, which is astonishing.

For a  business looking for online visibility, it is important to understand all the aspects related to keywords, such as finding and using them in the content. Let’s discuss them thoroughly. 

1. Understanding Keywords from a Business Point of View

We just discussed the importance of keywords for search engines and now understand it from a business perspective. As a business, you want to attract as many users as possible to your website pages to increase sales. But how do you do it?

It’s not hard to understand that keywords can help you become visible before your target users since you may appear in the top organic results of the SERPs. (search engine result pages)

Moreover, if you can find the right keywords and use them in your content, you will likely get more visitors to your pages. However, identifying the right keywords and using them in your content is more challenging than it seems.

It is a fact that there are millions of websites on the Internet. These websites representing businesses aim to target a particular demographic and audience according to their services and products. Naturally, each company has some specific competitors, and they try to outdo each other to get more visitors.

Websites that want to appear in the top organic search results can analyze what people are searching for and what products and services they are offering to find a relationship between them so that they can pick keywords and use them in the content. It will increase the likelihood of their website appearing in the top organic search results on Google’s first page. 

Thankfully, free and paid tools on the internet can help you know what people are searching for regarding your products and services and what your competitors are doing to attract maximum users to the search page.

But how do you identify which keywords are suitable for you? You must dig deep into keyword types, their purposes, and how they fit into your strategy. Let us discuss this.

2. What are the Types of Keywords?

There are three types of keywords. 

Navigational Keywords

These are used by individuals who already know where they want to go on the internet. For example, “Starbucks in Dallas.”  in this search query, it is easy to make out that the user is looking for a Starbucks coffee shop in Dallas. 

Informational Keywords

By entering such keywords, search engine visitors look for solutions to a specific problem or seek answers to multiple queries. Examples of such keywords are “the best coffee drink,” “benefits of coffee drink,” and “side effects of drinking too much coffee.” These examples show that the user is looking for information about coffee rather than the Starbucks coffee shop. Such keywords generally have medium-level difficulty, and they generally attract medium-level traffic.

Transactional Keywords

The user searches for transactional keywords because they want to buy a product or service now or in the future. ” Buy coffee mugs,” ” coffee mugs,” best coffee shops near me,” etc.

3. The Role of the Intent in Choosing Keywords

You must have noticed that “intent” is a common theme among all kinds of keywords, and you should know that it is also the most crucial component of keywords. You can build your content by analyzing users’ intent and understanding it. Subsequently, you can create a strategy that can help you win more customers than your competitors.

How do you do that? It boils down to many key factors, such as

  1. Is your new business a  new one or an old one 
  2. Stages of the customer journey. It is important to know whether your customers are aware, not aware, fully aware, or at the buying stage regarding your company’s product and services). 
  3. Your competition.
  4. Types of searches getting generated on the internet.
  5. Online trends.
  6. Different factors related to your target user base, such as age, location, preference, etc.

Take the example of a person looking to buy an Android phone from a reputed brand and decide which is the best option for him. He might come on the Internet and enter :

“best Android smartphone under $500.”

 If you build a content piece with this particular keyword, you can appear in the top organic results before this specific person. You can create a piece of blog content that lists different options for smartphones priced under $500 and then direct users to a store link mentioned in the blog that sells several brands of smartphones.

In another case, the person has already decided to buy a Samsung smartphone. And this person enters the search query in Google: “Samsung smartphone shop in Dallas.”

 In this case, Google will show companies in Dallas that have included this keyword in their content and have a higher chance of appearing in the top organic results. 

So, while analyzing and finding keywords, you need to understand the user’s intent and how that intent relates to your product and services. 

4. Understanding Keywords According to their Length

We just discussed the difference among keywords according to their intent. Another type of difference between keywords is their length, as explained below:

Short Tail Keywords

Such types of keywords appear in 1 or 2 words. Short-tail keywords are common and get a lot of searches, but you should be aware that ranking for them is very difficult. For example,  coffee, coffee shops, and coffee drinks.

 Short-tail keywords require more work to rank for, so anyone hoping to do so must concentrate on producing highly relevant and researched content.  

Mid-Tail Keywords

Such keywords are usually 3 to 4 words in length. The medium-tail keywords are less competitive and typically have lower traffic volumes than the short-tail ones. They are considered easier to target, and if analyzed with conviction and used in good-quality content, they have a good chance of performing well. 

Since they represent medium-ranking difficulty and search volume, they also have a higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords. Some of the examples are ” buy teak furniture,” “low-priced furniture,” and “buy plastic furniture.” 

Long Tail Keywords

Such keywords are longer and consist of more than 2 to 3 words. Look at them as phrases entered by users into the search engines. They are the most specific ones with clear intent and have higher conversion rates than short-tail and long-tail keywords. They are the least competitive keyword type out of all of them.

Some examples of long tail keywords are “Why plastic furniture better than wood,” ” Which is the better furniture between plastic and wood,” ” plastic furniture that is better than wood for home,” etc.

Going through these keyword types and their respective properties will help you formalize a content strategy that will benefit your company’s website SEO.

5. Are Keywords Everything in the Content?

Until this point, we have strongly emphasized using keywords in the content. However, more than adding keywords to the content alone is needed for any business to rank highly on organic pages.

There is more to it than just using keywords; the content’s quality matters most. An example of a keyword is “plastic furniture is better than wood.” 

Suppose five companies create content pieces for the same keywords and publish them to achieve high rankings. 

Google’s algorithm will go through all the content pages and rank those it believes are of higher quality than others.

It will also lower the rank of the content, which has stuffed the keywords unnaturally. Moreover, it can even penalize a company on the search engine if it discovers one trying to manipulate the system by stuffing the keyword needlessly. 

The best way forward is to use unique keywords that are carefully selected and placed in the right place in the right quantity. Moreover, the approach to creating content should be “user first,” which means the content should be constructed with a human-first approach, and the search engine-first approach is not the right approach.

6. Where Should Keywords Be Placed on Your Website Page?

You just cannot place keywords anywhere on your website pages. Stuffing pages is not the answer to creating compelling content that search engine algorithms and crawlers love. 

Understanding some basic rules of thumb regarding keyword placement will help you. Here is some information about the right place for placing keywords in the content

  1. Title tags and the body of the content are the two places where you can place your chosen keywords and try to use different keywords for each page on your website.
  2. You can also place your primary keyword into the URL of your page.
  3. The best method for positioning keywords is typically to use the main keyword in the page’s H1 tag, then in between at H2(sub-headings) meta descriptions and alt attribute with any images.
  4. There isn’t an existing pre-established, rigid rule for where to place keywords in the text. However, using keywords in the headings and subheadings of the body is considered the right place. 
  5. The keyword density up to 2% to 5% is considered optimal.
  6. Make sure you use keywords naturally in the body of your text and do not insert them so that they appear to have been put there for the sake of SEO

7. Process To Keyword Research

Researching keywords is one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization. What is the importance of keyword research? It’s because it informs you of the topics that internet users are searching about. It helps you, as a marketer, gain a better feel for and understanding of the target audience. 

Performing research helps you understand the high demand for specific keywords. More importantly, it tells you how hard it is to compete for those particular ones for organic search rankings. This analysis activity helps you create a base for your content strategy.

You should also understand that keyword research is more than just knowing the number of searches related to a particular keyword. It is also about finding and exploring variations of keywords that people use in their language when they search for them on search engines.

A simple keyword like “how to boil an egg at home” might have several variations like “egg boiling process,” “boiling eggs at home,”  and “boiling eggs process: etc. 

By conducting such analysis and research, you can use the variations in the text of your content to get the most out of it. Additionally, you will be looking at the keyword difficulty as well. It is because the greater the keyword difficulty you find for specific keywords, the harder it will be for you to get ranked for that particular keyword.  

With the aid of Google Trends, you can also discover popular trends on the search engine and produce content based on your analysis.

7. How Do You Do Keyword Research?

The keyword research process begins with an idea in your head. You can call this the seed keyword.

The “seed keyword” is a type of information you are aware of due to your experience and knowledge in your specialized field. So you build on that particular seed keyword and find variations of keywords related to it. 

Every time you conduct research, you should jot down these seed keywords in your head and come up with more ideas by researching your industry online and visiting social media sites to find out what people are looking for.

Make a list of seed terms, and then use paid or free tools like Google Keyword Planner,  Semrush, Ahrefs, and UberSuggest to find technical statistics like the number of people searching for a specific keyword, its keyword difficulty, and various related variations to it. 

The best keywords for your campaign are those with a high number of searches and a medium or low level of difficulty. You can also look at keywords through the eyes of your business and services. 

For instance, if your business is brand new and your services are distinctive, people might not even be aware of you or the goods or services you provide. Using transactional keywords in this circumstance is not a wise move. You can look into informational keyword phrases to help your target audience understand and be aware of your services and company name.

However, if your company is already well-known among the target audience, it is better to concentrate on transactional keywords.

8. How Frequently Should One Do Keyword Research?

Keyword research is not just a one-time task. You can think of keywords as the foundation of your entire website’s SEO, which you should periodically check, update, and maintain. It should be no surprise that your target audience’s tastes will change over time. 

This is why you need to keep an eye on the keywords so you can make tweaks to your keyword strategy when needed.

You will find that people are finding new words and phrases to search for products and services related to your industry. As a result, experts must regularly perform analysis and keyword research to keep up with the changing landscape of the SEO industry.

What is the right time to conduct keyword research? Here are some accepted practices

  1. Carry out keyword research when you are looking to start a new website for your business.
  2. Use keyword analysis when writing a new blog post or article for your current website.
  3. Whenever you are creating a new website page, it could be a landing page or a normal website page carrying out keyword research is necessary.
  4. Remember to perform keyword analysis and research whenever you change your existing content. 

Knowing what keywords your target market’s audience uses to search on Google can help you understand them better than ever before. So it helps you improve your company’s business and services according to your observations.

9. Final Takeaway

The main target of this particular post is to help you understand what keywords are in terms of SEO, what their types are, their relevance and importance in the realm of SEO, and how to find and use them in your content strategy.

Since you’ll be conducting keyword research regularly, keywords can help you better understand your target audience because they reveal a lot about their preferences, likes, dislikes, and other characteristics. They let you know what people are searching for on the Internet, and this information is valuable for your business from many perspectives. 

Additionally, we covered information regarding the best places to place your keywords in the text and tags on the pages of your website.

10. Frequently Asked Questions

What is a keyword? Could you give an example of a keyword?

A “keyword” is a word or combination of words that tells search engines what the user is looking to search for, and they disclose the intent of the search to them. This helps businesses create content according to keyword intent to increase their visibility in Google searches and rank higher.

For example, a keyword could be ” buy a sofa in LA.” With this keyword, it is clear that the person intends to find the option to purchase furniture, specifically a sofa, in Los Angeles.

Is Keyword research important for SEO?

Keyword research and analysis are not only two of the most important activities in SEO; you could call them the base of SEO. Without conducting a keyword search, you cannot think of becoming successful with search engine optimization for your respective website.

Is keyword research a one-time activity?

Keyword research is not a one-time activity but something you are advised to carry out whenever you create a new page for your website or publish new content on the Internet for your business. Even when you modify the existing content, you should conduct keyword research once again.

Is keyword research’s sole purpose ranking high on organic search results?

It is true to some extent that it is mainly used to achieve a high ranking in Google’s organic search results. However, they are also important for your business’s evolution and growth. Would you like to know why? There is a simple reason for this. Conducting keyword research gives you a sense of what people belonging to your target audience are exploring while using search engines such as Google, Bing, and others.

You get information about their tastes, likes, and dislikes, which is important for improving your business’s services and products. So yes, keyword research is more than a tool to get ranked high on search result pages.

Is there a free tool that is effective and reliable for keyword research?

One such free resource that is trustworthy when conducting research is Google’s keyword tool. It is an important tool when it comes to keyword research and analysis. And since it is from Google, it is highly accurate and reliable.

Why should you use a reliable keyword research tool?

Using a reliable keyword research tool, you can know what your competitors are doing and what keywords they use to rank high on Google searches. Once you understand this, you can pick particular keywords appropriate for your business and services. After that, you can create content around them to attract the maximum audience visiting Google and try to reach the top of Google’s organic results.

Navneet Singh Final

A young enthusiast who is passionate about SEO, Internet Marketing, and most importantly providing tremendous value to businesses every day. Connect with him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter: @nsvisibility

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