SEO keyword strategy

What is Keyword Research and What Are the Different Types of Keywords?

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder

March 8, 2016 | 5 Min Read

Article updated on April 3, 2023

As businesses grow online, an effective digital marketing strategy is incomplete without adopting relevant Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Marketers looking to optimize their sites for SEO pivot their content in line with relevant keywords.

Are you looking to deep dive into the fundamentals of relevant keywords to boost your site’s organic traffic? We’ve got you covered to get the basics right.

In this blog, we’ll explain what keyword research is, why keywords intent is important, and what the types of keywords are that you can choose for your website.

What is the meaning of keyword research?

Keyword research is an integral part of an SEO keyword strategy to identify the common terms that users frequently input into search engines to research and seek desired information. With well-strategized keyword research, you also ascertain how high the demand is for certain keywords (search volume) and how tough it would be to compete for those terms in organic search results (keyword difficulty).

The underlying idea of keyword research is to feed those keywords into your content and be able to rank your website on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) to answer the queries that people are looking for.

What is SEO keyword strategy?

To be precise, SEO keyword strategy is a four-tiered approach:
  • Finding your sweet spot of low competition and highly relevant keywords that ultimately answer users’ search queries in the most direct way.
  • Incorporating high-performing keywords in your content strategy.
  • Measuring the impact of keyword targeting—whether it drives relevant organic traffic to your site, and whether you’re able to rank on the SERPs.
  • Performing keyword research and upgrading your targeting regularly to ensure you’re up to date with the ever-growing search criteria of users and the ever-evolving algorithm of search engines.

Why are relevant keywords important?

Keyword research and targeting are becoming the go-to SEO tactic for marketers. Here’s how you can benefit too:
  • Gain insights into current marketing trends
  • Boost brand awareness
  • Understand your audience’s needs and center your content to answer them
  • Target high ranking on search engines and boost organic traffic to your site
  • Enhance lead generation and customer acquisition prospects

What is the meaning of keyword difficulty?

Just like you’re targeting specific keywords, your competitors might be too. Hence, an important facet of an SEO keyword strategy is to choose the terms with reasonable keyword difficulty.

Keyword difficulty is an SEO metric used to evaluate how difficult it is to rank on the first page of an organic search with a specific keyword. By evaluating keyword difficulty, you can gauge how likely a specific keyword will maximize your campaign results.

The types of keywords

Below, we’ll explore the ins and outs of keywords: the various types, and how to interpret and incorporate them into your strategy.

Three types of keywords by length:

1. Short tail keywords

Short tail keywords (also known as “head keywords” or “focus keywords”) are the keywords with high search volume and keyword difficulty. They are usually short in length with one to three words.

Although they refer to very broad search terms with a low conversion rate, they are essential for SEO success as they’ll help you rank in SERPs. Ideally, these keywords can be placed consistently throughout the content which establishes your credibility in the eyes of Google.

2. Long tail keywords

Long tail keywords (also known as “head keywords” or “focus keywords”) are the keywords with relatively lower search volume and keyword difficulty. They are usually longer in length—more like phrases—with more than three words.

Even though they may have a lower search volume, long tail keywords are easier to rank your site and increase your chances of securing targeted organic traffic.

3. Medium tail keywords

Medium tail keywords are the keywords with moderate search volume and keyword difficulty. They are the best of both worlds—shorter than the long tail and longer than the short tail keywords.

Let’s explain these types of keywords with an example. Say you want to answer user search queries on the best free SEO tools.
  • Incorporating the keyword ‘SEO’ in your content will be a short-tail keyword strategy. It’s a broad search term frequently input by users, and there are many web pages that are presenting content on different aspects of SEO.
  • Long tail keyword strategy will be used to search ‘best free SEO tools’ in your content. The conversion rate will be high here as it more closely matches keyword intent with relatively long and direct terms.
  • Likewise, choosing the keyword ‘SEO tools’ will be a medium-tail keyword

Four types of keyword intent:

Based on the understanding of the ultimate goal users want to satisfy with their query on the search engine, marketers can pivot their content around the keywords. Here’s how:

1. Informational

These keywords aim to serve user intent to seek awareness of a particular theme, business, product, or service. If you’re looking to boost brand awareness or establish yourself as an industry thought leader, you should aim to target informational keywords in your content strategy.

2. Navigational

These keywords aim to answer queries of users who are aware of a particular theme, business, product, or service but need more information on its location. You can utilize navigation keywords in your content if you want to direct users to your correct website or physical location.

3. Commercial

These keywords aim to serve user intent to look out for the best available brand, business, product, or service. You can target commercial keywords if you’re looking to fill your sales funnel by tapping people with slight purchase intent who are conducting targeted research on the search engine before the purchase.

4. Transactional

These keywords aim to target users with higher purchase intent. If you want to encourage users to take immediate purchase action, you can target transactional keywords within dedicated landing pages or paid ads.

Running the best SEO keyword strategy for you

The type of keyword you should target depends on your business goals and the level of competition for the particular keyword. If you’re just starting out with SEO, it may be best to target long-tail keywords, as they tend to be less competitive than short-tail keywords. As you gain more experience and improve your SEO skills, you can start targeting medium- and short-tail keywords.

We can help you take the next step

Keyword research is an important part of any SEO strategy, and it’s something you should take the time to learn how to do. However, if you want to get better results faster, you may want to outsource this task to a professional SEO agency. At Pedestal Search, we specialize in helping businesses find the right keywords for their niche and creating a content strategy that will help them achieve better rankings on search engines. Do you need help with your keyword research? Contact us today and let us show you what we can do!


Keyword research, SEO

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt

CEO & Founder

Aaron Levenstadt completed his degree in Statistical & Data Science at Stanford University. That focus has given him an unparalleled data-driven approach to search engine digital marketing. Prior to founding Pedestal Search, Aaron worked at Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View California. At Google he worked on the Organic Search, Paid Search and Google Analytics products, which equipped him with extensive knowledge of the mechanisms driving Google’s algorithm and other internet search engines.