Keywords: What they are, the various types and why they’re important!

27th Apr 2022

Keywords are an essential element in the ongoing task that is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – from understanding the different types and their purpose to knowing what tools are available to help you research the right keywords, you need to pay regular and focused attention on this aspect of your business’s digital properties.

SEO keywords are the words or phrases people use to search online and what internet search engines use to rank and sort content on the internet.

Let’s start with an explanation of the different types of keywords, and what each of them does as part of the overall SEO effort.

There are various keyword types including short-, mid- and long-tail, product defining, customer defining, geo-specific, transactional and competitor.


Broad search terms that are usually only a couple of words long, and target high traffic volumes rather than very specific audiences. For example, building contractor, accounting company, clothing store


Slightly more specific and descriptive than Short-tail, targeting a more selective audience. For example, quality building contractor, leading accounting company, second-hand clothing store


Far more descriptive and directed at specific audience groups, with keyphrases consisting of multiple words. These tend to be less competitive (for paid campaigns) and deliver higher clickthrough rates. For example, quality building contractor with free estimates in Cambridgeshire, leading SME-focussed online accounting firm specializing in SAP, retro and 1980s second-hand clothing store with free delivery

Product defining

Keywords and phrases that lead with named product or service descriptions, where a brand or end use are some of the ways to define keyword or phrase. For example, Nutec and Light Steel Frame building contractor, SAP-specialist online accounting firm, Fancy dress retro and 1980s second-hand clothing store.

Customer defining

Targeted towards specific end-user attributes, whether for products or services, for example coffee-lover, women’s skincare range, small business owners, mountain bikers


As the name suggests, geo-specific keywords focus on location as the primary driver, for example, Cambridge-based accounting company, UK supplier of Nutec building materials, Camden second-hand clothing store.


These are keywords related to searchers who have already made the purchase decision but may have questions that help them convert to a sale. For example, How much do Nutec wall panels cost? What is the monthly cost of a SAP-accounting service? Where can I buy 1980s leather jackets in London?


These are keywords that name or are used by your competitors, and not only help you track what they are doing in their online campaigns and SEO, but also help you get found for searches that use these terms. For example, a competitor keyword for Ford Transit might be Vauxhall Vivaro, or for Nike might be Puma.

What should you look to achieve with your keyword strategy?

The purpose of a keyword strategy is to ensure that every piece of content on your website and in your digital marketing resonates with your target customer. Whether on your home page, product- or service-specific inner pages, your digital marketing campaigns (especially Google Adwords) or social media, using the right keywords in the right place at the right time can mean the difference between ranking competitively or being bumped down the search results, and encouraging clicks to your website or losing a click to a competitor.

Understanding which keywords to use is part of the task, and that means researching what keywords your target customers are actually using when searching for your products and services.

There are a number of tools out there that can help you research and define your keywords within the above keyword types, depending on what you want to highlight or focus on in your SEO or digital campaign.

Some of the tools are free, and others are paid for – similarly, some are more for use by SEO specialists whilst others are generally more user friendly.

Premium tools include:

  • SEMrush
  • KWFinder
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  • GrowthBar
  • Long Tail Pro

Free tools include:

  • Google Keyword Planner (highly recommended, simple to use)
  • Keyword Tool (free for the first 750 keyword searches)
  • Moz (first 10 keyword searches per month are free)

Whilst the premium tools are excellent, they may be a bit complex for someone coming into keyword research for the first time.

However, the tools in the Free list above are fairly simple to use and can really help define keyword lists, search volumes and other aspects of SEO research to take your website to the next level.

Find out more about Realnet’s SEO and digital marketing services, or chat to one of our friendly staff today for help on how to conduct your own keyword research. Contact us today on 01223 550800 or email for more.

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