What is a keyword and which are the SEO ones

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Back to basic: today we take a step back and focus on a basic topic of online activities and SEO work. To be precise, we will address what a keyword is, trying not only to understand the meaning of the term, but also what is the importance of keywords within an SEO strategy and what are the types and varieties of keywords that you can intercept and use to try to get positioning on Google, conversions and practical results.

What is a keyword

A keyword is simply a specific word or, even better, one or more terms that are associated with a particular concept or need and that answer (not necessarily identically) to a question asked by users through a search engine.

What are SEO keywords for

Keywords are therefore the first signals read by search engines to scan a site and its pages, as well as the tool with which Google indexes and places content on the basis of its ranking factors. Keywords therefore play a fundamental role in the SEO optimization of a site, because they are useful to intercept traffic from organic search on search engines and the clicks of users interested in consulting the information related to the query of interest.

The relationship between keyword e query on search engines

Within SEO there are various theories regarding the keyword and the importance of finding the exact match, or the perfect match between the user’s query and the keyword contained in the text, which in the past often led to force the hand on the creation of content, inserting in the article of exact strings of terms in an unsympathetic way to intercept the keyword. Today this aspect still has a strong relevance, but thanks to the evolutions of the Google algorithm it is possible to position also with related keywords, synonyms and semantically related to the search, if they respond to the search intent of those who perform the query.

All the keywords, a guide to the discover of keyword typologies

In our insights we have already encountered a number of keyword types that can be intercepted by search engines in content. The best known is the specific one, called focus keyword, consisting of a single term, which holds a high volume of research and an equally high level of competition (to say it with the words of the SEOZoom keyword tools, possess high Keyword Difficulty and often low Keyword Opportunity): they are very specific and exact-match keywords, which however risk to produce the effects hoped for in view of site performance.

Getting to know the SEO keywords: vanity keywords

Of this first group of keywords are also part of the so-called vanity keywords: they are SEO keywords generally composed of one or two terms at most, which have a very high average and monthly search volume and appear attractive only in appearance. These keywords describe in a generic way the topic of the site and the products sold in eCommerce, attracting little qualified traffic and generating therefore a low conversion rate: positioning with a vanity keyword does not offer concrete benefits to the conversion into sales or to the increase of the readers of the site, but serves only to satiate the vanity of the site (and of the customers who commission SEO works) with large numbers that do not translate in great economic results. In fact, there is the risk that positioning for a keyword vanity can increase the bounce rate, as the user could immediately leave the page of the site without interacting if he considers it poorly interesting and little centered on his research intent.

Medium tail keywords and long tail keywords

In a planned SEO strategy for keyword optimization, then, it is advisable to focus on longer strings of keywords, or “tails”: despite having lower search volumes than the top words (which in this case we can define “short tail keywords“), also lowers the competition and better defines the topic of the page, intercepting in a more specific way the search intent of the users and their purchase intentions. If we want to make a further distinction, we can distinguish the long tail keywords, which we have already described in our insights, and the medium tail keywords or mid-tail keywords, made up of three or four terms. The latter are the compromise between specific and diluted keywords, and maintain a fairly high search volume, a lower competitiveness than the focus keyword and intercept a level of users looking for more information and are not necessarily (or not yet) ready for conversion.

Keywords in a page: primary, secondary and correlated

In order to optimize the performance of a page and a content, then, it is important to know and recognize the role of keyword: the main keyword is the heart of any strategy, the primary intent of the article that must possess the characters of relevance and relevance with the contents of the website and the page itself. Secondary keywords derive directly from the main one, to which they are often accompanied with the addition in general of a single term (before or after), and represent a semantic delimitation of the priority, defining a specific aspect or a sub-argument of the main keyword: secondary keywords are also pertinent and relevant, but only for a specific detail of the content. Correlated keywords are extensions of page content and do not always contain the main keyword: they can be synonyms, grammatical variations or other expressions that expand the semantic field of a content or article and are useful for intercepting users with similar needs. In particular, the relevant related keywords help to go deep into the contents of the page (vertical expansion), responding to an informative need of the user, while the not relevant correlated keywords serve mainly to widen the topic on other semantic fields, for a horizontal expansion useful for organic ranking in SERP.

Which keywords to use for SEO strategies

Going even more specifically, there are at least 5 large categories in which the keywords can fit, with various nuances and meanings. The first classification system is based on the intent of the user, and therefore they identify informal keywords, navigational keywords and transactional keywords, to which are added the local keywords that define a specific geographical area and branded keywords, refer exactly to the name of a brand or a person.

Keyword classifications based on user intent

Informational keywords are the most generic keywords, those referring to a query that serves to inform oneself about a certain topic and that are usually executed when the user is at the beginning of his customer journey; they are informal and informative keywords, perfect to use in guides or Pillar articles to gain relevance on a certain topic in the eyes of the search engine.

Informational, navigational and brand keywords

Navigational keywords are usually keywords composed of a main term and an additional word linked to a name or a brand: the navigational intent meets the need of the user to obtain specific information on a line produced exclusively by that company or to reach that particular official website. Branded keywords can be considered a nuance of these navigational keywords: they are dry keyword that refer directly to the brand (trade mark or personal) and often also appear in the name of the official domain, which in fact gets (almost) always the first positions in SERP for these specific searches.

Transactional and local keywords

Even more specific is the intent that moves the interest of a user who performs a transactional search, which represents an advanced stage of the purchase process and generally concludes the path of information search: the person has collected the necessary data, found the news he was looking for, and is ready to take action. Transactional keywords are typically used to optimize the content and pages of sites designed for the online sale of goods or services and SEO activity is critical to achieving a valid ranking that can increase the rate of conversions.

The last category that we address is that of local keywords, local keywords that are used to define and delimit the geographical interest of a content: are all the geolocalized keywords that circumscribe a local need or that direct the search for an activity present on a specific territory.