7 Different Types of Keywords for SEO You Need To Know About

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When it comes to keywords for SEO, you might think that keywords are just, well…keywords. Keywords are also what most people think of when it comes to SEO. But did you know that there are 7 different types of keywords for SEO?!

That’s right!

When it comes to organic keywords, there are 7 different types you should know about. Each organic keyword type has it’s own qualities and there are pros and cons to each.

So you’re probably wondering, what are the different types of keywords? The 7 different types of keywords you need to know are…

  • Head Terms (aka Seed Keywords)
  • Short-Tail Keywords
  • Long-Tail Keywords
  • Zero-Click Keywords
  • Zero-Volume Keywords
  • Branded Keywords
  • Non-Branded Keywords

Types of SEO Keywords

Now that you know the different types of keywords that are important for organic SEO, let’s explore each in a little bit more detail. And I’m giving you real keyword examples so you can see each type of keyword brought to life. Let’s dive in!

Head Terms (aka Seed Keywords)

The first type of keyword is called a seed keyword, or head term. These are one-word or generic searches. Examples of head terms would be things like…

  • Squarespace
  • Wedding Photographer
  • Copywriting

Head terms have a high search volume but they have a high keyword difficulty, meaning they are highly competitive. So although the high number of monthly searches can be appealing, this type of keyword is VERY hard to rank for (aka, don’t focus on them—especially if you’re just getting started with SEO).

Short-Tail Keywords

Next up are short-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are a bit more specific than head terms and typically include a couple of words. Examples of short-tail keywords would be…

  • Squarespace Templates
  • Wedding Photographer and Videographer
  • Website Copywriting

Because short-tail keywords are a bit more specific, they typically aren’t as competitive as head terms. Short-tail keywords usually have a moderate monthly search volume and are moderately difficult to rank for.

Long-Tail Keywords

The next type of keyword you need to know about is long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are the most specific keyword type of the bunch. Examples of long-tail keywords would be things like…

  • Squarespace Templates for Photographers
  • Chicago Wedding Photographer and Videographer
  • Website Copywriting Packages

Because long-tail keywords are more specific, their search intent is also highly specific. Long-tail keywords also generally have a lower search volume…BUT they generally have a low keyword difficulty. So although they may be searched less monthly, they are much, much easier to rank for than head terms.

And now let’s see these first 3 types of keywords in action to showcase why you should target long-tail keywords when it comes to selecting your SEO keywords.

We’ll start with the Squarespace keyword set as our first example…

  • Squarespace (head term) = 450,000 search volume, 100% keyword difficulty
  • Squarespace templates (short-tail keyword) = 6,600 search volume, 43% keyword difficulty
  • Squarespace templates for photographers (long-tail keyword) = 90 search volume, 27% keyword difficulty

Now let’s look at the copywriting set of keywords next…

  • Copywriting (head term) = 49,500 search volume, 86% keyword difficulty
  • Website copywriting (short-tail keyword) = 1,300 search volume, 40% keyword difficulty
  • Website copywriting packages (long-tail keyword) = 70 search volume, 5% keyword difficulty

And one more for good measure! Let’s go through the wedding photographer set of keywords…

  • Wedding photographer (head term) = 12,100 search volume, 71% keyword difficulty
  • Chicago wedding photographer (short-tail keyword) = 1,300 search volume, 48% keyword difficulty
  • Chicago City Hall wedding photographer (long-tail keyword) = 20 search volume, 0% keyword difficulty

So as you can see, the more specific you get with your keyword, the search volume does go down but the keyword difficulty decreases (which makes those long-tail keywords your target keywords!)

Zero-Click Keywords

The next type of keyword to know about is zero-click keywords. These are keywords that result in essentially no clicks. With zero-click keywords, the result or answer to the keyword searched appears at the top of a search result in what’s called a featured snippet (aka position 0 in search results).

Google will essentially pull out the answer and highlight it at the top of the search result, which may mean the user doesn’t need to click through to get the answer they were looking for.

So I want you to think of zero-click keywords as instant answers. Examples would be things like…

  • What time is it in Sydney, Australia
  • How old is Patrick Mahomes
  • Weather

And although it may sound counterproductive to focus on zero-click keywords since they result in little to no clicks, they are still incredibly powerful! If you dominate zero-click keyword results in that top spot on Google, you’re helping to increase your brand awareness and visibility.

Zero-Volume Keywords

Next up are zero-volume keywords. These are keywords that are hyper-focused and oftentimes are new-to-the-game keywords. Because of this, SEO tools like Semrush oftentimes can’t provide data on them.

An example of a hyper-focused keyword that is considered a zero-volume keyword by most SEO tools would be ‘Squarespace template for landscape company.’

Though SEO tools identify it as zero-volume, you’ll easily see by searching that keyword on Google that there are 362k results—it’s just really niche and focused.

By capitalizing on these hyper-focused or zero-volume keywords, you can pretty easily dominate the search results for that keyword and become the go-to source. So if you’re a Squarespace template designer, maybe you’ll consider creating one for landscape companies next!

And yes, zero-volume keywords that are new to Google can gain traction and become a “standard” keyword. An example of a new-to-the-game keyword that was considered zero-volume when it first was released was ‘Squarespace Fluid Engine.’ It was a new term that had never existed before the new editor was released, so there was no historical search data for SEO tools to report on.

But by capitalizing on these new-to-the-game keywords, you can benefit from the influx of initial traffic and get your site ranking high before the keyword starts getting competitive. (The keyword ‘Squarespace Fluid Engine’ now has a search volume of 480 and keyword difficulty of 22% in the 14+ months since its launch.)

Branded Keywords

Now let’s talk about branded keywords. Branded keywords are a type of keyword that include the brand or specific product name within the keyword. The search intent behind branded keywords is highly specific because the person knows exactly what they’re looking for.

Some examples of branded keywords would be…

  • Semrush
  • Crate and Barrel sofas
  • iPhone
  • SPAC parking map
  • On running sneakers

Non-Branded Keywords

And last but certainly not least, the final type of keywords for SEO are non-branded keywords. Non-branded keywords are keywords that are related to your services, offerings, products, etc. A person knows overall what they’re looking for but they don’t have a specific company or brand in mind.

Examples of non-branded keywords are…

And there you have it—a deep-dive into the 7 different types of keywords for SEO you need to know about.

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Hey there, I'm Stepf—Google Superfan & Passionate Educator

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