7 types of keywords you need in your seo content writing strategy

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Updated May 11, 2023

If you know anything about writing for SEO, you know how challenging it can be to write high-ranking content–especially if you’re aiming for high-traffic keywords.

A lot of marketers leave money on the table by not auditing their content for different keyword types.

There are different types of keywords you need to incorporate into your content writing strategy that can generate more traffic and result in better conversions.

The Basics: Primary Keywords vs. Related Keywords

Let’s start with the basics: primary keywords vs. related keywords.

Your primary keyword is the specific word or phrase that you want your content to rank for. But with how advanced search engine algorithms have become, Google can categorize your content based on context.

That means using related keywords

A related keyword is similar to your primary keyword but is written in a slightly different way. 

For example, If I’m trying to rank a content for the phrase “natural dog food,” I can use related keywords like “all natural food for dogs” or “chemical-free dog food,” to help signal to Google what my content is about without stuffing the content with my primary keyword over and over.

If you find that you’re overusing your “money keywords” in your content, go back through and revise it with related keywords. You can run your content through a keyword density checker or even read your content back to yourself. If the way you’re using your primary keyword sounds unnatural, it’s a definite sign you need to make some adjustments.

The Hidden Benefit of Using Related Keywords

There’s more to using related keywords than to help Google better understand your content (and sound more natural when you’re writing). Related keywords have their own search volume, meaning that you won’t just start ranking for your primary keyword, but the related keywords, too.

That’s a lot of potential search volume. 

For example, if you type natural dog food into Ahrefs keywords explorer and select related keywords, you’ll get a report that shows you all of the potential traffic for each related keyword. If a piece of content ranks for several of these keywords, the potential traffic is incredibly high.

7 Keyword Types to Include in Your SEO Writing for Organic Search Results

Once you have an understanding of primary vs. related keywords, you can begin to implement multiple keyword types into your content.

The most common keyword types are short tail keywords, long tail keywords, commercial keywords, informational keywords, navigational keywords, location-based keywords, customer-defining keywords, and product-defining keywords.

Let’s go into detail with each kind of keyword and look at some examples.

  1. Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are the most popular keywords that typically get the most traffic–but it can take longer for your content to rank–if it ranks at all.

For example, take a look at the short tail keyword dogs from this report generated by Ahrefs:

The keyword difficulty for this keyword is an 84, which is classified as super hard to rank. The search volume per month is extremely high (703k searches per month), and to rank highly for this keyword you’d be competing against sites like National Geographic. 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use short tail keywords in your content writing strategy. Not all short tail keywords are as competitive as dogs, but if you’re intent on competing for some high-value keywords, be prepared to play the really, really, really long game. 

  1. Mid-Tail Keyword

A midtail keyword (also sometimes called a “chunky keyword” is typically 2-3 words and is considered moderately competitive. Mid tail keywords are more specific than their short tail counterparts, and not as specific as long tail keywords.

A “chunky” keyword can still be difficult to rank, but gives you a far better chance of climbing the rank of search engines.

Let’s continue with our dogs example, but focus on the mid-tail keyword natural dog food.

With this chunky keyword, we can see that the keyword difficulty has decreased, but so has the search volume. This means that while fewer people overall are searching for this specific phrase, you’d have a better shot at ranking for it–even though it’s still a challenging keyword.

  1. Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are longer than three words, highly specific, and the keyword type consumers use when they’re closer to making a purchase. 

This type of keyword is generally easier to rank for, although they get less traffic. But, just because a keyword gets lower traffic, doesn’t mean that it’s less valuable. 

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

You should use long tail keywords when you have content that matches user purchase intent. And if you don’t have any content for this stage of the funnel, it’s time to start filling your content gaps

Let’s continue with our dogs and natural dog food examples and go long tail with grain free natural dog food.

With this key phrase, the difficulty goes down significantly (and changes from hard to medium) and we see a decrease in search volume.

But because this keyword is easier to rank for, you have a better chance of making it to the front page, meaning if you hit those coveted top spots, all of that purchase-ready traffic could be yours.

The journey from short tail to long tail keywords follows the user journey. 

The more the user knows about what they’re looking for, the more specific their search terms get. 

In our example, our user went from the general term dogs, likely found information about what to feed their dog, and then shifted their search to something more specific: natural dog food. After that research had been done, our user went even further down the sales funnel and looked up grain-free natural dog food.

  1. Commercial Keywords

Commercial keywords are keywords that indicate a user’s interest in making a purchase. Modifiers signal to search engines that the user needs to be served results. 

Commercial keywords might look something like these:

  • Highest-rated natural dog food
  • Best grain free natural dog food 
  • Cheapest grain free natural dog food
  • Grain free natural dog food reviews
  • Most popular grain free natural dog food 

Using a commercial keyword shows high-intent, meaning that the user is likely to make a purchase in the near future.

  1. Location-Based Keywords

Location-based keywords are exactly what they sound like: keywords or phrases a consumer searches for that determines their location. 

Examples of location based keywords include natural dog food near me or by using the specific location name such as natural dog food in Austin, Texas.

Location-based keywords are primarily used for brick and mortar businesses in which a customer can visit in person, and are extremely handy when trying to show up on Google Maps. 

  1. Customer-Defining Keywords

A customer-defining keyword laser focuses on who a product or service is for

Continuing with our dog food example, a customer-defining keyword might be best dog food for small dogs.  In this case, the customer-defining modifier is “small dogs,” specifying a characteristic of who is consuming the dog food. 

  1. Product-Defining Keywords

Like customer-defining keywords, product-defining keywords further specify information and narrow down search results for users looking to make a purchase in the near future. A product-defining keyword clarifies the product itself.

For example, grain free natural dog food small kibbles is a product-defining keyword. Small kibbles is the descriptor that defines the product.

TL;DR: Types of Keywords

Here’s a quick guide to the 7 types of keywords you need in your SEO content writing strategy:

Keyword TypeDescription Example
Short tail1-2 words, high keyword difficulty, high search volumedogs
Mid-tail2-3 words, moderate keyword difficulty, less search volume than short tail and more search volume than long tailnatural dog food
Long-tail3-5 words, lower keyword difficulty, lower search volume but high-intentgrain free natural dog food 
Commercial keywordsIndicates a user’s interest in making a purchase in the near futurebest grain free natural dog food
Location-based keywordDetermines the user’s locationnatural dog food in Austin, TX
Customer-defining keywordsDefines a characteristic about the consumernatural dog food for small dogs
Product-defining keywordsDefines a characteristic about the productnatural dog food small kibbles

Tip: If you want to create content that fulfills user intent and utilizes all of these keywords, your content strategy should absolutely include topic clusters. 

Using Different Keyword Types for Increased Traffic and Higher Conversions

Using different keyword types for different user intents and varying stages of the sales funnel helps you generate more traffic to your site and attracts potential customers. 

As a marketer or content writer which offers copywriting services, understanding how to implement different types of keywords helps you create super high-performing content.

You need more than just short tail keyword types if you want your content to compete. Use these 7 different forms of keywords and see how well your content ranks.

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