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Understanding SEO: The Different Types of Keywords

8 June, 2017

One of the biggest elements in any SEO strategy is your keywords. These are the words and phrases you are aiming to get your site ranking for on search engine results pages and that’s no easy task. The first step to being successful in using keywords, in first, learning about choosing keywords.

It goes without saying that not all keywords are equal: some will perform better than others and some will perform differently to others and part of why that happens, is down to the type of keyword you are using. So what are the different keyword types?
 

Branded Keywords

These types of keywords can either be your brand name or close variants of that brand name alone, or they can be other words used in combination with your brand name or close variants, which together create a branded keyword phrase.

For example:
  • Pixelbuilders,
  • Pixelbuilders Digital Agency,
  • Pixelbuilders Leeds,
  • Pixel Leeds
These are all branded keywords or branded keywords phrases.

Branded keywords are an important part of your SEO strategy because they allow users already familiar with your brand, to find you repeatedly using your name.

They are a good way to increase your brand awareness too, especially when your brand name is used in combination with other words like your location, key service or industry sector.
 

Unbranded Keywords

Given that branded keywords include your brand name or close variants then logically, unbranded keywords are ones that do not. So for example unbranded keywords for Pixelbuilders would include things like:
  • Leeds Digital Agency
  • .NET Agency
  • Digital Agency In Leeds
  • .NET Digital Agency
Unbranded keywords are especially useful, and will form the majority of your keyword lists. Typically they will be related to your location, products and services. It is unbranded keywords that allow users who have never heard of your brand, to still find your content online.
 

Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are essentially broader, less specific keywords than their long tail counterparts. Generally speaking these types of keywords are good for capturing a wider portion of your target market.

However because short tail keywords are by their very nature more generic, this can sometimes lead to users accessing your site, who do not have the intention of buying your products or services. For this reason, it is important to use a mix of short tail and long tail keywords.

Examples of short tail keywords for Pixelbuilders could be:
  • Digital agency
  • Web agency
  • Web designers
  • Web builders
 

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are more specific than short tail keywords and are often phrases and even questions your target audience may search for. Often long tail keywords demonstrate the user’s intent as well as specifying what they are searching for online.

For example instead of simply targeting “digital agency” which is a short tail keyword, you could also target a longer tail version which might be something like “best digital agency in Leeds” or “what services does a digital agency offer?”

You can have branded and unbranded versions of both long tail and short tail keywords too, to further develop your keyword strategy. They can be combined in the following ways.
  • Branded + short tail
  • Unbranded + short tail
  • Branded + long tail
  • Unbranded + long tail
Finally, there are different keywords for paid search strategies and SEO strategies. While SEO is our focus here, it’s worth quickly noting the types of keywords you can choose between in Google AdWords too, in case you’re also running Pay Per Click (PPC) ads to boost your search performance.

These are broad match keywords, modified broad match keywords, phrase match keywords, exact match keywords and negative match keywords, and you can learn more about each of these different types and how they work in the AdWords Help Centre
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