August 4 2023

5 minutes of reading

What are keywords in SEO?


Katarzyna Jaworska

These days, to make it big in the internet business, you need to know and use SEO. This, in turn, entails being familiar with the usage of keywords. Keywords are words that internet users type into the search engine to find info on a given topic. The way you select keywords matters a lot if you want to make sure your website positions high in search results. It will naturally drive more traffic to your website.

How do I choose the right keywords?

Before you do that, do a decent market analysis. Check what the trends are and what your customers are looking for, i.e. what the most popular phrases in search are.

Got all the info you need? Get to choosing your keywords then.

While selecting your keywords, pay attention to how popular, competitive and accurate they are. Their popularity is expressed in the number of searches for a given keyword (volume). Competitiveness, however, is gauged based on how many competing websites try and position by a given keyword. When it comes to accuracy, it’s about whether a keyword matches the theme and content of a website.

What is also crucial for the right match of keywords is using them on specific subpages on the site. Keywords should appear in headers, titles and content, as well as ALT descriptions and names of files. Don’t forget to make sure they sound natural. Such measures will make the content of your website clear and relevant to its users. Avoid overusing keywords as it may lead to so-called Keyword Stuffing and the content may lose some of its quality.

What should I steer clear of? The Keyword Stuffing issue.

Keyword Stuffing in SEO is a tactic which deliberately uses loads of repeating keywords. It’s done by some to improve the search engine positioning of their websites. It’s one of the oldest and most unfair practices in SEO that is supposed to tamper with the search engine algorithm and mislead users.

Keyword Stuffing violates Google guidelines as it affects the quality of content and fails to   provide relevant info to users. Actually, Google penalizes websites that practice Keyword Stuffing.

The penalties for Keyword Stuffing vary. They could be manual, i.e. manual sanctions administered on specific websites by Google, or they could be automatic (algorithm) sanctions imposed when the algorithm of the search engine gets updated.

Keyword Stuffing is not only unethical but also counterproductive as it may damage the reputation of your website and affect its position in search results. Instead, I suggest you focus on creating valuable content and applying keywords according to SEO rules.

The example below:

What tools can I use for that?

One of the tools to select the right keywords is i.a. Google Keyword Planner. Some other popular tools are Senuto, Ahrefs, or Semrush. They all allow you to analyze their popularity and competitiveness.

To those who are more keen on writing SEO content I can also recommend tools such as Contadu and SEO Surfer.

Another category of tools worth using is the software that monitors the position of websites in the search engine. I’d definitely recommend Google Search Console for such purposes.

The choice of suitable keywords may significantly improve the positioning of your website , which in turn, may increase the website traffic and profitability.

As you can see, it’s well worth devoting enough time and resources to accurately select keywords for the sake of SEO optimization.

How do I run some decent keyword research?

The choice of keywords is surely a continuous and laborious process. I suggest you use various methods and tools to find your best keywords that will match your users’ needs and follow SEO rules.

  • Competitor analysis — Content Gap

Check what keywords are used by your competitors’ websites. You can use tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Senuto, or Semstorm and analyze your competitors’ keywords.

  • Long-tail keywords

Try to choose longer phrases that comprise 3 or 4 words. They are less competitive, but also more accurate and relevant to your users. Thanks to this, your website will start positioning high in the search engine. Bear in mind that long-tail phrases convert well despite lower search volume.

  • Seasonal keywords

You can also use keywords that are related to some seasonal trends to appeal to those that are looking for info on a specific topic. For instance, your keywords at Xmas, on St. Valentine’s Day or during summer vacation can draw a lot of traffic to your website.

An example for the “sunscream” phrase is presented below. The search peaks in June and July, then clearly having a downward trend.

Source: Google Keyword Planner

  • Analysis of popular search queries

Pay more attention to some popular search queries which are made by users in search engines and use them on your website. You might want to use Answer The Public or Google Trends to find popular search queries that are on a given topic/theme. Use the ‘related queries’ in Google to prepare your FAQs.

How do I interpret the keyword intent?

Keyword intent means determining the goals and needs that users have when they type their phrases into search engines. Every word may have a different intent; for example, search for info, product comparison, purchase, etc. Therefore, you might want to select such keywords that they match users’ intent and make your website more relevant to their needs.

Basically, we can distinguish two main intents: informational and transactional. However, there are plenty more kinds of phrases, the following being the most important:

  1. Informational — the searcher is looking for info on a given topic, e.g. ’’What are the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s?”; so-called blog phrases.

  2. Transactional — the searcher is ready to purchase and looking for the best deal, e.g. ’’dry hair shampoo” or „sneaker deals”.

  3. Commercial — the searcher is looking for info on products or services before they make a purchase decision. They simply want to learn more about the products/services and compare them, e.g.’’best smartphones now”. 

  4. Navigational – the searcher wants to visit a particular website, but they don’t know the exact address, or it’s easier for them to type the URL in the search engine.

All the above-going intents have an impact on the SEO strategy and help us customize our content to our users’ needs, improving the odds of reaching them through search engines.

The industry literature lists plenty more kinds of keywords. Below you will find those that are crucial for SEO strategies:

  1. Brand keywords contain a brand name, a products’ name or a company name. One of the brand keyword examples can be the name of a sports store or even of a company that is being searched for, e.g. ’’SalesTube” or ’’GroupOne”.

  2. Local keywords are connected with a specific location, such as a city, district, or a region. They matter especially to some local companies or entrepreneurs who would like to drive people in their area to their businesses. A good example of a local keyword is „groomer Warsaw” or „Italian restaurant in Wrocław”.

  3. As regards long-tail keywords, which I have already mentioned, let me expand on them a little. They are long, more specific keywords that consist of a few or more words. They are usually less popular than generic keywords, but surely better targeted and get you much better results in search engines. For instance, a long-tail keyword can be „non-slip basketball shoes”.

Topic clusters and their impact on SEO

Topic clusters are topic-based groups of keywords that are linked to the same topic. Topic clustering will let you develop a logical and orderly structure of your website that will, in turn, facilitate the navigation for users and customize the website content to their intent. As a result, your website may achieve much better results in search and generate more organic traffic on the website.

Remember that a topic cluster needs a complex and comprehensive description so that users can access all the info on a given topic.

The example below:



The selection of keywords requires careful market analysis, adjustment to the content of the website and constant updating. It is also important that you place them naturally and relevantly on the website.

Keep in mind that keywords are only part of the work that needs to be put into SEO activities to bring the expected results. Please note that these are long term activities. A high position in search results also depends on other factors, such as the quality and value of content on the page, page loading speed (core web vitals), links or responsiveness to various mobile devices. Therefore, the selection of keywords should be part of a broader SEO and content marketing strategy that should be constantly improved and adapted to the needs of users.


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