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Overhaul your content, and drive more qualified leads to your website by researching and learning to use high-value keywords throughout your site. With this comprehensive guide on keywords, you will learn what keywords are, why they're important, where you can find them, as well as what the different types of keywords are, as well as important qualities to consider regarding keywords. Finally, once you understand the ins and outs of keywords, we'll show you how you should use keywords throughout the content on your website. 

What Is A Keyword?

What are keywords

A keyword is a word or phrase a prospect would type in search engines when seeking information on any person, place, or thing. Some keywords naturally get far more monthly searches than others based on how language works.

For instance, if you are looking for the best bakeries in your area, you'll probably use phrases like "best bakeries near me" or "best bakeries in X city." So it is safe to assume - without doing any keyword research - that keywords like "best donut-making businesses in my area" probably don't get many monthly searches because it isn't how ordinary people think or speak.

It is important to remember that keywords with more search volume are typically much more competitive because they stand to bring the most potential revenue to the companies and websites that rank for them.

What Does It Mean To Rank For a Keyword?

What does it mean to rank for a keyword

Ranking for a keyword simply means that you have optimized your website well enough to prove to search engines that your page deserves to be on the first page. To rank, you need to ensure that you provide as much quality and unique content as possible, coupled with a strong backlink profile, so search engines have no choice but to see you as an authority as far as that specific keyword, industry, or niche is concerned.

Search engines don't really have much of a choice in the matter. So long as you have displayed the richness and quality of your content in all aspects of SEO, including a quality backlink profile, you will have a good chance to rank. When competing pages are ranking, the ones that rank in the top three positions come down to who is the most efficiently understood by search engines.

We'll cover this more on a different page, but for now, just remember that your attention to the information on this page will drastically improve your ability to outperform your competitors online.

Why Are Keywords Important For On-Page SEO?

Why are keywords important

Keywords are vital for SEO because they determine the direction you will take in optimizing your page and website, and they give you measurable data that can help you project potential ROI. Not only do keywords give you data that can be used for projections, but they also allow you to understand your target audience in more detail so you can create content that ensures an increase in conversion.

Keywords are vital for on-page SEO for these and many more reasons. But, before you can use keywords to optimize your content, you first need to find keywords. It is important to note that while you'll find plenty of keywords, only a small percentage of them will be worth pursuing. So, now that you understand why keywords are vital to an SEO campaign, how do you find them?

How Do You Find Keywords?

To learn more about why keyword research is so important, head over to our dedicated keyword research page.

The best way to find keywords is to use resources like Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, competitors, and even search results.

SEO Tools

Semrush Homepage
In this photo you can see that the example shows the importance of giving the central focus of the page a dominant place in the landscape of the page.

You can use various tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and many others to help you analyze certain seed keywords. Using these tools, you can use a list of seed keywords you feel might be worth using, and they will give you valuable data you can use to determine which keywords on your list are worth targeting.

In addition, they will also suggest a list of keywords you can scan through that will often reveal words or phrases you would've never thought of that are often more valuable than the seed keywords you started with. This is a great way to begin building a master keyword list.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive Analysis For Keyword Research
The picture illustrates where the "main," and "supplementary" content sections are both found and used.

Using the tools we've just discussed, you can quickly gather a list of your top 3-5 competitors and see what organic or paid keywords they rank for on certain pages or site-wide. This method does two things: Concerning paid keywords - you'll learn what keywords your competitors feel are worth investing in.

Concerning organic keywords - it will give you 3-5 lists of keywords for whatever topic or niche you are doing the research for. You can then pepper these keywords/phrases throughout your page to improve your relevance to the main keyword you are targeting.

But, when determining what keywords or phrases you should use, it is crucial to understand the different types of keywords and what each is used for. 

Plugins & Integrations

Plugins & Integrations cannot really help you determine which keywords you should target, but they can greatly help when it comes to understanding where and when to use them. You will typically get graded on the quality and level of optimizations that have been done, and will even get suggestions for ways you can improve them.


Semflow Homepage
This photo displays the homepage of Semflow, a Webflow SEO plugin.

Plugins like Yoast for WordPress or Semflow for Webflow are great ways to guide your overall execution of on-page SEO. If you use Webflow and want an easy way to improve on-page SEO, check out Semflow. This is an affiliate link for transparency, but you can use it to check out the Semflow plugin for Webflow.

Understanding The Four Keyword Types: Long-Tail, Short-Tail, Question, and Intent Targeting

A graph displaying an overview of the four types of keywords.
This photo shows a graph introducing the four types of keywords.

It is essential to understand the differences between the four types of keywords because targeting the wrong kind of keyword for your situation or your goals can easily lead to wasted time creating content you can't rank for. Or worse yet, it can also lead to you hurting your ranking potential across your entire website. Google will look at how your audience interacts with your content, and if you bring the wrong users to your pages, their negative interactions will cause your pages to look low-quality, and search engines will be less likely to promote your website.

Short-Tail Or Short-Head Keywords

A graph displaying short-head keywords
This photo shows a graph introducing the four types of keywords.

Short-tail keywords, also known as short-head keywords, are the most competitive keywords anyone can rank for. This type of keyword is very broad in scope and generally represents an entire industry, product, place, or service. They are usually one or two words long.

Short-tail keywords will always have much more competition, as these are always searched more often and stand to bring in the most revenue. In other words, companies/websites without a huge budget for SEO or an incredible online presence will be unable to rank for these keywords.

In addition to being the most competitive, they are often brand names like "Facebook" or "Apple," for example. Words like "rifle" or "pistol" are examples of short-tail keywords. On the opposite end of the spectrum, more specific keywords like "best hunting rifles under $400" are much less competitive but have fewer monthly searches.

High-Volume Middle-Tail Keywords

A graph displaying high-volume mid-tail keywords
This photo shows a graph introducing the four types of keywords.

High-volume mid-tail keywords generally comprise two or three-word phrases like "best hunting rifles." These phrases are still incredibly competitive and are often only possible to rank for if a significant SEO budget or an impressive online presence exists.

Staying true to our existing example, these keywords are much less competitive than our keyword "rifle," and start to search engines determine the specific context a user is interested in when entering their query.

Low-Volume Middle-Tail Keywords

A graph displaying low-volume mid-tail keywords
This photo shows a graph introducing the four types of keywords.

Low-volume mid-tail keywords are where conversions and rankings get a lot easier for larger, more established websites and companies. While still very competitive, these keywords are much more specific. The more specific keywords and keyword phrases become, the less search volume there will be, but the higher your conversion rate becomes.

To demonstrate our point, using our existing example, "best Remington hunting rifles," is much more specific than our last example. Almost always, the most specific a user's query, the more likely they are to convert.

If User A found your website by typing "best hunting rifles" versus User B, who found your page with "best Remington hunting rifles," User B will be a more valuable user. The most specific a keyword is, the more likely it will be to convert.

Long-Tail Keywords

A graph displaying long-tail keywords
This photo shows a graph introducing the four types of keywords.

Long-tail keywords are the highest converting keywords you can target and best of all, they are much less competitive too. Read that again - long-tail keywords are less competitive, and they bring in more conversions for more websites than any other type of keyword.

They are the bread and butter of SEO. While you can absolutely make millions of dollars targeting short-tail keywords, it is unattainable for companies with smaller budgets, and this is where long-tail keywords come in.

If we continue our previous example, a long-tail keyword might like something like "best Remington hunting rifles under $400." This type of keyword will give any website owner a higher conversion rate than any of the other types of keywords we've discussed here today. Long-tail keywords are incredibly specific, but generally, when someone is looking for something specific, they know what they want, and they just need a website to give them the means to get it.

Question Keywords

Question keywords are simply keyword phrases in question format. The goal of these queries is to answer a question the user has. These keywords are typically more long-tail in form and function, but they can still be incredibly competitive depending on the specific topic and industry.

You would typically want to target these types of keywords when creating nearly any type of page because your goal is to create a comprehensive resource for your users to enjoy. You never want them to have a question related to your page that they have to leave your page to get an answer to. With question keywords, you need to put yourself in your user's shoes to ensure you are answering every possible question for them that makes sense contextually.

Intent Targeting Keywords

Intent-targeting keywords are naturally asked with a specific intent, like when a user wants to learn more about something, purchase something, or investigate the potential of buying something. This is one of the most important aspects of keyword research.

Keyword intent is so important to consider when finding keywords because if a keyword is strictly used from an informational standpoint, you would want to avoid targeting that keyword on a page where you expect to get sales.

This is because users searching information queries don't want to make a purchase, and they don't want to be converted; they just want information. So, in general, if you want to convert your users to a specific page, you need to focus on commercial or, more ideally, transactional keywords. These are keywords where users expect or want to make a purchase.

What Are Important Keyword Qualities To Consider?

Keyword qualities to consider

The main difference between on page SEO & off-page SEO is the fact that on page SEO focuses on the content that lives on the page, whereas off-page focuses on things that exist outside of your website.

Off page SEO deals more with getting other quality resources and websites to mention your website. Whether those resources and websites are popular industry-relevant podcasts, forums, blogs, YouTube channels, etc., that is your main focus with off-page SEO. The focus here is to get your name out there and get your website in front of as many people in the best places possible.

Search Intent

Search intent is a concept that categorizes the intention users have behind certain search queries. Search intent can help you understand when certain keywords make the most sense to target depending on your goals with your content.


Transactional keywords are generally only searched when a user wants to invest their hard-earned money in something. For instance, "best donuts near me" is an example of a transactional keyword. If someone is searching for that specific keyword, chances are that they are craving donuts, and they want to stop by the nearest donut spot sometime in the near future.

If you want to make money, transactional keywords are by far the most important keywords to target, with commercial keywords coming in at a close second.


Commercial keywords are similar to transactional keywords, but users searching for these types of queries usually investigate a specific product, brand, or service instead of wanting to complete a transaction.

Commercial keywords are still essential because if your copy is good enough, it can become highly likely that those users you attract can check back in to buy from you when they are ready to make a transaction.


Informational keywords are very important. The point of ranking for informational keywords comes in the form of trust. Before your potential customers are going to be ready to make a transaction, they will investigate.

They'll search out many aspects of the topic before they feel comfortable enough to make a purchase, so understanding your industry and your prospects well enough to get in front of them at each stage of this process to help educate them and lead them toward a resolution will do wonders for your conversion rates.

Think of the last time you bought a car. You probably didn't just drive into a dealership and purchase a vehicle. Chances are, you did some research first. You used a search engine to ask questions like "most reliable car of 20XX," which would have led you to several pages.

You'd then use the new information you've learned to limit it even more. So maybe you learned that X brand of vehicles is incredibly reliable, so your next search might look something like "fuel efficient X cars" or "safest X of 2023."

This is the power of informational keywords because you can help use your website to guide your prospects to their final choice. This may or may not lead to them going with the products you sell, but you will nonetheless get in front of them throughout the customer journey and become to them a trusted source of information. If they do decide the products you and your competitors sell are for them, you will have a huge leg up on your competition.


Competition, as it relates to keywords, can be shown using any standard SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs, and it refers to how difficult it would be to rank for that specific keyword. Certain websites heavily invest in some keywords. Meaning it would be challenging to come out of nowhere and create a page targeting competitive keywords and having any real chance to rank without first making a significant amount of content that helps search engines recognize your website as an actual authority on that topic.

For example, if you sold Chinese gardening tools and supplies, if you wanted to rank for a competitive keyword related to that niche to drive traffic and sales to a specific part of your website, you would first have to find a part of that niche and publish 15-30+ quality articles that would help you establish your website as an authority in that section of the industry.

This, in turn, would allow you to be more easily ranked for related and competitive terms. Another huge thing would be to create a solid backlink profile to help Google and other search engines start to see your resource as a quality resource.

Search Volume

Search volume is just as it sounds - it just reflects the number of people typing in a specific keyword in search engines each month. Typically the higher the search volume, the more competition you'll find. Not always, but the vast majority of times, it is this way.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost-Per-Click, or CPC, relates to how much people usually spend on Google ads to get traffic for a specific keyword. Typically, the higher the CPC, the more valuable a keyword is in terms of business. It shows that businesses have found it worthwhile to invest funds in that particular keyword.

How Should You Use Your Keywords?

You should use the keywords you're targeting all throughout your content in a very organic way. Never force a keyword somewhere it doesn't belong because that is how you get in trouble for keyword stuffing, and more importantly, it is how you increase the chances users will leave your page for a competitor that isn't keyword stuffing. Below, we'll go into some general best-practices for how to use and where to use keywords.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is often referred to as a percentage. Typically it is recommended a keyword doesn't make up more than 6% of the overall words in a piece of content. However, Google has proven that this is just a guideline that can be disregarded so long as the piece of content is written well enough.

In some situations, you can easily have a keyword be even more than 15% of the words on a page, and it is still a quality piece of content. What is more important is that you write content that reads well and doesn't seem like you're writing content so that you can squeeze a keyword in more times. Both Google and users can sense this because it reads very unnaturally.

To learn more about keyword stuffing, head over to our page describing everything you need to know about it.

Practice Proper Keyword Placement

Head over to our page that talks about how to place keywords properly throughout your content. It is important to note that the keyword your page targets should always shows up in specific places like the URL, the H1 tag, the title tag, paragraph tags, etc.

There are certain places search engines look to better understand the focus and topics a page covers, and placing your keyword in each of these places makes it more likely search engines will see the connection between your page and your target keywords.

Comparing Long-Tail and Short-Tail Keywords: What Is The Difference?

Commercial keywords are similar to transactional keywords, but users searching for these types of queries usually investigate a specific product, brand, or service instead of wanting to complete a transaction.

Commercial keywords are still essential because if your copy is good enough, it can become highly likely that those users you attract can check back in to buy from you when they are ready to make a transaction.

Is Keyword Research Important For SEO?

Keyword research is vital for SEO because it allows you to base your strategies on data instead of just shooting in the dark and guessing. With proper keyword research, you can get vital metrics like potential ROI. Coupling that with competitive analysis, you can understand which keywords are worth targeting and what you can gain if you target keyword A over keyword B.