Conducting keyword research is important for SEO, but doing keyword research effectively requires knowledge about the different types of keywords. Whether you’re building a content strategy or looking to better optimize a website, here are the keywords and phrases you need to focus on when doing keyword research.
- Broad Keywords
- Main Keywords
- Related Keywords
- Long-Tail Keywords
- Geo-Targeted Keywords
- User Intent Phrases
- Semantic Terms
Typically, the first step with keyword research is to look for broad keywords. These keywords provide you with a broad view of a topic and give you a starting place for building a keyword list. Also, broad keywords often have the highest monthly search volume, making them the most difficult keywords to target for SEO wins.
Say you’re creating website content for a landscaping company. Your broad keywords might be:
- landscaping companies
- landscaping services
Similar to broad keywords are main keywords. The difference between the two is that broad keywords are more like a general category, whereas main keywords are a focus within that category. Think of it like industry vs. service. A business is part of a larger industry, but offers certain services within that industry.
Continuing with our example of the landscaping company, let’s say you primarily serve residential customers with landscaping services. Your main keywords may look like:
- residential landscaping
- residential landscaping company
- residential landscaping services
Related keywords are secondary terms that help you narrow the focus of your broad and main keywords. These keywords allow you to target more specific phrases that branch off of the larger topic.
When building a keyword list, you’ll have more related keywords than you will broad or main. Many of these secondary keywords will also have lower monthly search volumes than broad or main keywords. This is because their focus is narrower, which makes them easier to target for SEO wins.
Once again, using our landscaping company example, related keywords could include:
- front yard landscaping
- side yard landscaping
- backyard landscaping
- front yard design
- backyard design
- backyard garden design
- backyard water features
- retaining wall installation
- patio installation
- pool installation
What is a long-tail keyword? It’s a keyword with a more specific search phrase. Usually, long-tail keywords will include three or more words and have some kind of modifier related to a searcher’s needs (e.g., cheap).
While these keywords often have low search volumes because of their specificity, they’re valuable for SEO because they’re less competitive. But most importantly, they’re more likely to drive website traffic and conversions because the searchers using them are looking for particular products or services.
With our landscaping company example, long-tail keywords could be:
- affordable residential landscaping services
- residential landscaping services for elderly
- landscaping company for retaining wall installation
- landscaping services with lawn care and snow removal
Especially if you’re a business that serves local customers, you’ll want to include geo-targeted keywords in your list. These keywords are essentially a type of long-tail keyword, in that they combine broad, main, and related keywords with a local area modifier (e.g., near me).
Using our example of the landscaping company, geo-targeted keywords might include:
- residential landscaping in Chicago
- patio installation company near Lincoln Park
- Chicago area landscaping services
User Intent Phrases
Like long-tail keywords, user intent phrases are specific and centered around an “intent.” In many cases, the intent is an answer to a question. User intent phrases typically include a broad, main, or related keyword and are used by searchers to find answers online (most commonly through voice search).
Despite having lower search volumes, these phrases are worth including in your keyword research because they show you which questions are being asked by online searchers (who could be potential customers), as well as which questions are relevant to the content you plan to create.
In line with our landscaping company example, user intent phrases may look like:
- How much does landscaping cost?
- What does landscape design include?
- Do I need a retaining wall in my front yard?
Semantic terms are simply words related to your broad keywords. As you come up with your SEO keyword list, it’s a good idea to include these terms because they can help you come up with more keyword variations, and they’re good to work into your content optimization, as they provide context around the keywords you use.
For our landscaping company example, semantic terms might include:
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