Different Types Of Keywords In SEO
While SEO changes frequently in small ways, the key principles do not. Since Google came onto the seen in the late 90s, we can break SEO into three components:
- Technical: non-content onsite activities that improve SEO
- On-Page: content and keyword targeting onsite activities that improve SEO
- Off-Page: offsite activities, like gaining external links (backlinks), to improve SEO
Search engines rely on algorithms to find webpages and decide which ones to rank for any given keyword.
There are 3 steps to how search engines work:
- Discovery stage
- Automated crawlers are sent to find new and previously known pages by following links from one page to another.
Search engines send out web crawlers to find new pages and record information about them.
They discover new pages by following the links on pages they already know about.
For the pages they have previously visited, crawlers are periodically sent back to check whether the content has changed.
Sometimes websites instruct search engines not to crawl certain web pages and these are left out of the index.
- Filing stage
- Some results are filtered
Most web pages that offer unique and valuable content are placed into the index.
Common reasons for pages not placed in the index are that the content was considered:
- Low value/spammy
- Couldn’t be crawled
- The page or domain lacked inbound links
- Retrieval stage
- Search engines scan their indexes
- They select webpages that provides the best answers
- There are over 200 rankings factors
In 2013, Google upgraded its main algorithm and named it Hummingbird. This upgrade included Google being more intelligent in understanding the meaning of keywords and being better able to return more relevant results.
In 2015, Google announced RankBrain which is a sub-algorithm of Hummingbird and an artificial intelligence system. This further illustrates the importance of understanding the true meaning of keywords, rather than just matching up keywords to pages which mention them.
In English, a keyword normally implies just one word but for SEO it can mean one or more. When thinking of keywords, try and understand what the users actually want and what task they are trying to complete – and then try to offer the best possible content to satisfy the intent behind the types of keywords you wanted to use.
Broadly speaking there are three types of keywords in SEO:
Depending on the topic or page you are researching, the types of keywords you will wish to target are likely to require different types of content and a slightly different approach for SEO. We’ll now review each one.
We can think of these types of keywords as signposts that direct searchers to a place they already have in mind. If you search Google for a brand name, a person’s name or a URL, you are using navigational queries. Queries and keywords are used interchangeably in SEO.
Collectively, informational queries make up the largest proportion of keywords and because they happen at the earlier awareness stage of the buying cycle, so are harder to convert into customers. Blog posts are examples of content where informational keywords are often targeted. That’s because a blog post is more about informing, rather than selling. For this reason, informational content tends to be more successful on social media.
Transactional queries happen at the last decision stage of the buying cycle, so are easier to convert into customers, but tend to be more competitive to rank for. As the name suggests, transactional keywords are targeted on sales pages, so they are often the first types of keywords we research and optimize for. They are also the most likely to improve the bottom line of your business and help meet business goals.
As you might expect, transactional keywords are the most likely to help with sales and help a business grow. But they are also the most competitive type of keywords, so the hardest to rank for. Some businesses that are new to SEO, ONLY target transactional keywords which means they struggle to rank for any keywords. By targeting informational keywords, it often means progress can be made quicker, particularly at the start for SEO.
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