What Are Keywords? How to Use Them For SEO?

Jul 04 2024 by Oskay Günaçar

What Are Keywords ?

Keywords are words or phrases that describe the content on your page or post best. They are the search terms that people type into search engines to find relevant information, products, services, or answers.

In the context of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords are crucial because they help determine when and where your page will appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Types of Keywords

Keywords can be categorized based on various factors such as length, user intent, and specificity. Here are the main types of keywords that are crucial in SEO and digital marketing:

1. Short-tail Keywords

  • Definition: Typically one to three words long.
  • Characteristics: These keywords are broad and often have high search volumes but come with high competition. For example, "shoes" or "digital marketing."
  • Usage: Useful for attracting a large volume of traffic, but less effective for targeting specific audiences due to their broad nature.

2. Long-tail Keywords

  • Definition: More than three words, forming a phrase.
  • Characteristics: These are more specific and detailed, usually indicating a clearer intent. They have lower search volumes but also less competition and higher conversion rates. For example, "women's waterproof hiking shoes."
  • Usage: Excellent for targeting niche demographics and addressing specific needs or questions of users.

3. Branded Keywords

  • Definition: Include the brand's name or specific product names.
  • Characteristics: Directly related to a company or brand. High conversion rates as searches are typically made by users already aware of the brand. For example, "Nike running shoes" or "Apple iPhone 12."
  • Usage: Important for businesses looking to capture traffic related to their brand or products.

4. Non-Branded Keywords

  • Definition: Do not contain any brand names.
  • Characteristics: Generic and used by users who are in the early stages of the product research process or those looking for a category rather than a specific brand. For example, "running shoes" or "smartphones."
  • Usage: Useful for attracting users who might not be aware of your brand but are interested in the category or industry you operate in.

5. Geo-targeted Keywords

  • Definition: Include location-specific details.
  • Characteristics: Tailored to capture local audiences, these keywords often have a geographical component, such as a city, region, or country. For example, "coffee shops in Amsterdam" or "IT support in New York."
  • Usage: Crucial for local businesses or services looking to draw in a local clientele or when targeting specific geographic markets.

6. Product-defining Keywords

  • Definition: Describe the product in a specific way.
  • Characteristics: Very descriptive and often used by shoppers who know exactly what features they want. For example, "LED USB rechargeable flashlight."
  • Usage: Helpful for eCommerce websites and retailers looking to attract customers who are further down the purchase funnel.

7. LSI Keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing)

  • Definition: Related keywords that support the primary keywords.
  • Characteristics: These aren't synonyms but semantically related terms that help search engines understand the content's context better. For example, for a primary keyword "baking," LSI keywords might include "recipes," "oven," "flour," etc.
  • Usage: Improves SEO by helping search engines discern page relevance and quality, potentially boosting ranking.

Understanding Keyword Metrics

Search Volume

Search Volume is the average number of times a keyword is searched in a search engine per month. It is a primary indicator of a keyword's popularity and potential traffic. High search volume keywords can drive significant traffic if ranked well, but they often come with higher competition.

Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty, sometimes referred to as SEO Difficulty, measures how hard it is to rank for a keyword based on the strength of the current pages in the search results. This metric considers factors like page authority, domain authority, and backlink profiles of the ranking pages. A higher keyword difficulty score indicates that it will be more challenging to achieve a high ranking.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost Per Click (CPC) represents the cost an advertiser pays each time a user clicks on an ad triggered by a specific keyword in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns. This metric can help gauge the commercial value of a keyword, with higher CPCs often indicating higher conversion potential and competition in paid search advertising.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-Through Rate (CTR) for a keyword shows the percentage of users who click on a search engine result after entering a specific query. This metric helps understand the attractiveness and relevance of your content for that keyword in search results. A higher CTR suggests that your title and meta description are compelling and relevant to the search intent.

Competition Level

Competition Level, particularly in PPC, illustrates how many advertisers are bidding on a specific keyword relative to all keywords across the platform. It helps assess the competitiveness in paid search campaigns but can also provide insights for organic search strategies. High competition levels mean more businesses are targeting the keyword, which might increase the difficulty and cost of ranking or bidding successfully.

Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate measures the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action (like filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase) divided by the total number of visitors who arrived via a specific keyword. This metric is crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of keywords in meeting business objectives beyond just attracting traffic.

Why are Keywords Important For SEO?

SEO keywords are crucial because they help search engines understand the content, making it easier for people to find your website when searching for relevant topics. 

They are essential for various reasons, each contributing to the effectiveness and success of online marketing strategies.

Here’s why SEO keywords are so important:

1. Driving Relevant Traffic

Keywords help drive targeted traffic to your website. By carefully selecting and using keywords that your potential customers are searching for, you ensure that the traffic coming to your site is more likely to be interested in your products, services, or content. This targeted approach increases the likelihood of conversions from visitors to customers.

2. Improving Search Rankings

Using the right keywords can significantly improve your website's visibility and ranking on search engines. When your content closely matches what users are searching for, it signals to search engines that your site is relevant, potentially leading to higher placements in search results. Better rankings can lead to more clicks, more traffic, and increased brand awareness.

3. Understanding User Intent

Keywords provide insights into what users are looking for. Analyzing the keywords that drive traffic to your website can help you understand your audience’s needs, preferences, and behavior. This knowledge allows you to tailor your content and offerings to meet their expectations, enhancing user satisfaction and engagement.

4. Content Optimization

Keywords guide the content creation process. Knowing which keywords are most valuable for your objectives helps in crafting content that is optimized for SEO while still providing value to your audience. This includes not just blog posts or articles but all types of content, such as videos, infographics, and podcasts.

5. Competitive Edge

Keywords are a critical element in staying competitive in your industry. By targeting the same keywords as your competitors, or finding niche keywords they might be overlooking, you can carve out your own space in the market. Regular keyword research helps you keep up with market trends and adjust your strategies accordingly.

6. Marketing Strategy Alignment

SEO keywords are integral to aligning various aspects of your marketing strategy. They help ensure consistency across content, PPC advertising, and social media, reinforcing your brand message and boosting your overall marketing effectiveness.

7. Measurable Results

Keywords provide a metric for tracking the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. By monitoring how rankings improve over time for specific keywords, you can gauge what's working and what isn't. This measurable aspect of keywords allows for data-driven decision-making and strategy adjustments.

8. Budget Efficiency

For businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, keywords can be a cost-effective way to drive traffic compared to other marketing strategies like paid advertising. Effective use of SEO and keywords can lead to organic growth, which is generally more sustainable and cost-efficient in the long run.

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a fundamental SEO practice that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines. This research helps marketers understand the demand for certain terms and how difficult it would be to compete for those terms in organic search results, guiding content strategy and optimization efforts.

How to Find the Right Keywords

Finding the right keywords is a pivotal step in any SEO strategy, helping ensure that your content reaches the right audience and ranks effectively in search engine results. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find the right keywords for your content and SEO efforts:

1. Define Your Goals

Before diving into keyword research, clearly define what you want to achieve with your SEO efforts. Are you looking to increase traffic, boost sales, enhance brand awareness, or target a specific audience? Your goals will guide the types of keywords you should target.

2. Understand Your Audience

Knowing who your audience is and what terms they use when searching online is crucial. Consider their demographics, interests, and the common problems they face that your product or service can solve. This understanding will help you predict and select keywords that they are likely to search for.

3. Use Keyword Research Tools

There are many tools available that can help you identify potential keywords based on exact match and related searches. Some of the most popular include:

  • Google Keyword Planner: Great for finding keywords related to your business and viewing historical metrics and forecasts.
  • SEMrush: Offers detailed keyword analysis and competitive insights.
  • Ahrefs: Known for its robust keyword research and content exploration features.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer: Provides keyword suggestions, SERP analysis, and more.
  • Ubersuggest: A free tool by Neil Patel that provides keyword suggestions, competition data, and SEO difficulty.

4. Analyze Search Intent

Search intent is the reason behind a search query. Understanding this can help you choose keywords that match what the searcher is looking for. There are generally four types of search intents:

  • Informational: The searcher is looking for information.
  • Navigational: The searcher is looking for a specific website or page.
  • Transactional: The searcher is ready to buy or perform another specific online activity.
  • Commercial: The searcher is considering a purchase and looking for more information before making a decision.

5. Look at Competitors

Analyzing what keywords your competitors are targeting can provide valuable insights. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can show you which keywords are driving traffic to your competitors' websites. This can help you identify both opportunities they might be missing and keywords that could be valuable for you to target as well.

6. Consider Keyword Metrics

When selecting keywords, consider the following metrics:

  • Search Volume: The number of searches per month for a keyword.
  • Keyword Difficulty: An estimate of how hard it will be to rank for a keyword.
  • CPC (Cost Per Click): Useful if you're also considering PPC advertising; it indicates the cost of each click in a paid campaign for that keyword.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) Potential: Some keywords might have high search volumes but low CTR because of SERP features like featured snippets.

7. Use Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or when using voice search. They are generally easier to rank for and can drive more qualified traffic.

8. Refine and Iterate

Keyword research is not a one-time task. It’s important to continuously monitor the performance of your chosen keywords and refine your strategy based on what’s working. Use analytics to track how keywords perform in terms of traffic, rankings, and conversions, and adjust your focus as needed.

Implementing Keywords in Your SEO Strategy

Implementing keywords effectively in your SEO strategy is essential for improving your website's visibility and search rankings. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to integrate keywords throughout your SEO efforts:

1. Keyword Placement

Effective keyword placement is crucial for SEO. Here are key areas where you should incorporate your keywords:

  • Title Tags: The title of your page should include the main keyword as close to the beginning as possible. This is crucial for search engine algorithms and influences click-through rates from search results.
  • Meta Descriptions: While not a direct ranking factor, meta descriptions should include relevant keywords to help users understand what the page is about and improve click-through rates.
  • Headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.): Use keywords in your headers to structure your content effectively and emphasize its relevance to search queries.
  • URLs: Include keywords in your URLs to help search engines understand what your page is about. Keep URLs short and descriptive.
  • Body Content: Keywords should be naturally integrated into the content, particularly in the first 100 words. Avoid keyword stuffing as it can negatively impact your SEO.
  • Alt Text for Images: Include keywords in the alt text of images to improve image search rankings and accessibility.
  • Anchor Text: Use keywords in the anchor text of internal links to help search engines understand the content of the linked page.

2. Keyword Density and Natural Usage

  • Avoid Overuse: Keyword stuffing can lead to penalties from search engines. Aim for a natural flow in your writing while incorporating keywords.
  • Density: There’s no ideal keyword density percentage, but keywords should appear naturally throughout the content. Tools like Yoast SEO can help ensure you’re not overusing or underusing your keywords.

3. Content Optimization

  • Quality Content: The presence of keywords is not enough; content must be high-quality, informative, and useful to the audience.
  • Contextual Keywords: Use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords and synonyms to provide context and support the main keywords. This helps avoid repetitive language and enriches the content’s relevance.
  • Content Length: While there's no set rule for optimal content length, more comprehensive content often ranks better. Ensure your content fully answers user queries and includes keywords contextually.

4. Semantic SEO

  • Rich Content: Create content that covers a topic thoroughly, using related terms and concepts that help search engines understand the topic deeply.
  • Schema Markup: Implement structured data (Schema.org) to help search engines interpret and display your content in useful ways, potentially increasing click-through rates.

5. Mobile Optimization

  • Responsive Design: Ensure your keyword-optimized content is accessible and readable on mobile devices, as mobile-friendliness is a significant ranking factor.

6. Social Media Integration

  • Shareable Content: Use keywords in posts and content descriptions when sharing on social media to enhance visibility and engagement.

7. Continuous Monitoring and Updating

  • Analytics: Regularly monitor your rankings, traffic stats, and other metrics with tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to understand how effectively your keywords are performing.
  • Updates: Refresh and update your content periodically to keep it relevant and maintain or improve keyword rankings.

How to Use Keywords in On-Page Optimization

Using keywords effectively in on-page optimization is essential for improving the SEO of your website and enhancing its visibility in search engine results. Here’s how to strategically integrate keywords across various elements of your website:

Title Tags

The title tag is one of the most important SEO elements on your page. It should include your primary keyword as close to the beginning as possible. This not only helps with search engine algorithms but also makes your content immediately clear to users browsing search results. Ensure that the title is engaging and accurately describes the content of the page.

Meta Descriptions

Though meta descriptions do not directly influence rankings, they are crucial for click-through rates (CTR). Include relevant keywords in a way that reads naturally and compels the reader to click on your link. A well-crafted meta description acts as an ad for your content in SERPs.

Headings and Subheadings

Use headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content effectively. Include keywords in these headings to emphasize the importance of these terms and to help search engines grasp the main topics of your page. This not only boosts SEO but also enhances the readability for your visitors by breaking the content into digestible sections.

URL Structure

A clean and descriptive URL structure is beneficial for both user experience and SEO. Include relevant keywords in your URLs to help search engines understand what the page is about. Keep URLs concise and avoid unnecessary characters or words.


The body of your content is where you can naturally incorporate primary and secondary keywords to boost relevancy for search queries. Use keywords thoughtfully and ensure they fit naturally into the text. Overusing keywords, or "keyword stuffing," can negatively impact your SEO and make your content difficult to read.

Alt Text for Images

Alt text is used to describe images, which helps search engines understand the content of pictures. Use relevant keywords in the alt text to boost your page's SEO and improve accessibility for users with visual impairments.

Internal Linking

Using keywords in the anchor text of internal links can help search engines understand the relevance and relationship between different pages on your site. This practice also enhances the navigability of your website, making it easier for users to find and access related content.

Responsiveness and Mobile Optimization

Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices. This includes making sure that keyword-rich content is also optimized for mobile SEO. Mobile-friendliness is a significant ranking factor in search engines, particularly after Google's shift to mobile-first indexing.

Loading Speed

Page speed is a crucial factor in both SEO and user experience. Optimize images, minimize code, leverage browser caching, and use a content delivery network (CDN) to increase loading speeds. Faster pages keep users happy and more engaged with your content, which can indirectly benefit keyword optimization.

Social Media Tags

While not directly influencing SEO, social media tags (like Open Graph Tags and Twitter Cards) help control how your content is displayed when shared on social media platforms. Include main keywords in these tags to enhance visibility and coherence in shares, tweets, and other social media posts.

Advanced Keyword Strategies

To elevate your SEO and achieve a competitive edge, you can deploy several advanced keyword strategies that go beyond basic keyword research and implementation. Here are some sophisticated approaches to enhance your keyword strategy:

1. Semantic SEO

  • Topic Clusters: Create clusters of content around a central, broad topic, using a range of related keywords. This approach signals to search engines that your website is a comprehensive resource on that topic, which can boost rankings.
  • Contextual Relevance: Incorporate related terms, synonyms, and co-occurring phrases that help search engines understand the context of your content more deeply.

2. Competitor Keyword Gap Analysis

  • Identify Gaps: Use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to perform a gap analysis, which identifies keywords that competitors rank for but your site does not. Targeting these can fill content gaps and capture missed traffic opportunities.
  • Leverage Competitor Insights: Analyze the content and strategies of top-ranking competitors to understand what makes them successful and how you can adapt or improve on their tactics.

3. User Intent Modification

  • Adjust Content to Match Intent: Regularly review your keywords and their associated user intents. Modify existing content to better align with the specific needs and questions of users at different stages of the customer journey.
  • Predictive Search Queries: Stay ahead by predicting shifts in user intent and emerging trends, adjusting your keyword strategy to meet these changes proactively.

4. Voice Search Optimization

  • Conversational Keywords: With the rise of voice assistants, optimize for conversational keywords and phrases that are more likely to be spoken during voice searches.
  • Question-Based Keywords: Include question-based keywords as voice search often involves direct questions. Focus on the 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and How.

5. Local SEO Enhancement

  • Localized Keywords: Integrate geo-specific keywords for businesses targeting local audiences. Local SEO can drive foot traffic to physical locations and capture local search territory.
  • NAP Consistency: Ensure your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all platforms and include these in key areas of your website for local relevance.

6. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords

  • Semantic Richness: Use LSI keywords to add semantic richness to your content, helping search engines understand the topic more thoroughly and improving content relevance.

7. Long-Tail Keyword Expansion

  • Niche Targeting: Focus on highly specific long-tail keywords that have lower competition but high conversion rates because they target more defined user needs.

8. Seasonal and Trend-Based Keywords

  • Seasonal Trends: Capitalize on seasonal trends by incorporating timely keywords related to holidays, events, or seasons.
  • Real-Time Keyword Adaptation: Quickly adapt to sudden trends or viral topics by integrating them into your content strategy.

9. Integration with Other Marketing Efforts

  • Cross-Channel Optimization: Ensure your keyword strategy is integrated across all marketing channels, including social media, email marketing, and paid advertising, for a cohesive and unified message.

10. Advanced Analytics and AI Tools

  • Machine Learning: Use AI and machine learning tools to predict keyword trends, understand complex patterns, and optimize your keyword strategy dynamically.

By incorporating these advanced strategies, you can ensure that your SEO efforts are not only up-to-date with the latest practices but also primed for maximum impact, driving both traffic and conversions more effectively.

Monitoring and Adjusting Keywords

Monitoring and adjusting keywords is essential for maintaining and improving your SEO strategy's effectiveness. Here's how you can systematically track the performance of your keywords and make necessary adjustments to ensure your content remains competitive and relevant:

1. Set Up Tracking Tools

  • Google Analytics: Use this tool to monitor organic search traffic, track user behavior, and see which keywords are driving visitors to your site.
  • Google Search Console: This tool provides insights into which keywords your site is ranking for, click-through rates (CTR), and the average position in search results.
  • SEO Platforms: Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz offer comprehensive features for tracking keyword rankings, competitor performance, and changes in search volume and keyword difficulty.

2. Regular Reviews

  • Keyword Performance: Regularly check the performance of each keyword. Look at metrics like search rankings, traffic volume, and conversions associated with specific keywords.
  • Content Audit: Perform periodic content audits to identify which pieces are performing well and which are not. Use this information to tweak underperforming content or replicate successful strategies.

3. Adjust Based on Performance Data

  • Optimize Existing Content: If certain keywords aren't performing as expected, consider revising content to better target those keywords. Ensure that keywords are used naturally and effectively within the content.
  • Refresh Outdated Content: Update old content that ranks for valuable keywords but is dated or less relevant. Refreshing content can improve rankings and user engagement.

4. Analyze Competitor Movements

  • Competitor Keyword Strategies: Keep an eye on your competitors' keyword strategies. If competitors improve their rankings for specific keywords, analyze what they did differently. This might include changes in content quality, backlinks, or user engagement strategies.
  • Gap Analysis: Use keyword gap analysis tools to find opportunities where competitors might be weak, and you can gain an advantage.

5. Respond to Market Changes

  • Trend Adaptation: Stay alert to new trends, industry changes, and seasonal topics that might affect keyword effectiveness. Adapt your content and keyword strategy to stay relevant.
  • Consumer Behavior Changes: Consumer interests and search behaviors can shift rapidly. Use insights from social media and Google Trends to adjust keywords according to new behaviors or interests.

6. Use A/B Testing

  • Test Keyword Variations: Implement A/B testing on your website to test how different keyword variations affect traffic and conversion rates. This can inform more effective keyword usage across your content.

7. Adjust SEO Tactics

  • On-Page SEO: Besides adjusting keywords, optimize other on-page elements like meta descriptions, title tags, and internal linking to improve overall SEO performance.
  • Technical SEO: Ensure that technical aspects like site speed, mobile optimization, and crawl errors are addressed, as these can impact the effectiveness of your keyword strategy.

8. Utilize Feedback and User Data

  • User Feedback: Collect and analyze user feedback through surveys, comments, and user behavior on your site. This feedback can provide direct insights into how well your content meets user needs.
  • Analytics Insights: Dive deeper into analytics to understand the 'why' behind the performance numbers. Look at user paths, bounce rates, and conversion paths to better understand the impact of your keywords.

9. Document Changes and Results

  • Record Keeping: Keep records of changes made and the results of those changes. This helps in understanding what strategies work best and provides a clear trail of your SEO evolution.

10. Continuous Learning

  • SEO Updates: SEO is constantly evolving. Regularly update your knowledge and skills by following industry blogs, attending webinars, and participating in forums.


In conclusion, mastering the art of keyword research and implementation is crucial for any successful SEO strategy. From understanding the basics of what keywords are and their different types, to delving into advanced strategies for optimization, this guide has covered the essentials you need to enhance your online visibility and engage your target audience effectively. Keywords are the backbone of SEO; they not only help to drive targeted traffic but also provide deep insights into customer behavior and market trends.

By implementing the strategies outlined—ranging from on-page optimization to sophisticated keyword analysis and adaptation—you can ensure that your content not only reaches its intended audience but also resonates with them. Remember, the world of SEO is dynamic and requires continual learning and adjustment. Regularly monitoring your keywords and adapting your strategy based on performance data will help you stay competitive and maintain relevance in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Harness the power of effective keyword research and optimization to transform your digital marketing efforts, boost your search engine rankings, and achieve your business goals.

Oskay Günaçar
Oskay Günaçar is a Technical SEO expert and backend developer. His main areas of interest are back-end programming, Python, Django, Go, semantic SEO, technical SEO. With more than 5 years of SEO experience, he has held SEO specialist positions at İkiler, Webtures, Boosmart, and Storyly.io companies, and has been involved in numerous projects as an outsourced expert. Through the TechSEOHub website, he aims to share the expertise and experience he has gained from managing and developing (SEO) processes for many successful and large websites in the industry, and to produce content for easy access to accurate and high-quality information.