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What Are Keywords?

What are keywords and why do they matter? This question can define the online success of your business so it's super important to get it right. This article dives into everything you need to know about keywords so you can achieve truly revenue-shifting results with your SEO.

Targeting the right keywords can skyrocket your business to success. So what are they and why do they matter?

In this article, we’re going to cover:

  • What are they?

  • Why are they important?

  • What types are there?

  • Where to use them


What are they?

Keywords are one of the pillars of search engine marketing, both search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid search. They're the themes, ideas and topics that your content is based on.

Searchers enter words and phrases into search engines, like Google or Bing – these are called “search queries”.

As a website owner, you want your page to be relevant to what people are searching for, so your site has a better chance of showing up amongst the results.

So, you create your content, web pages or search ads around the simple words and phrases that you know your target audience are searching – these are the keywords.


Why are they important?

Keywords are important because they give search engines quick cues to determine if your site or content matches what people are searching for.

Use the right ones, and the right people will be able to find you.

The whole point of search engine marketing, whether organic or paid, is to drive organic traffic to your page from the search engine result pages (SERPs).

But you don't want to drive just any traffic to your page.

You want visitors who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Otherwise, you're wasting your efforts and budget on people who aren't ever going to buy from you.  

That’s where keywords come in.

The words and phrases you choose to target determines what kind of traffic you get.

When you know what ideal customers are typing into the search engine, you can tailor your website pages, search ads, blogs, and more, to focus on those keywords.

This means your site is more likely to rank higher and be seen by the people who are most likely to convert.

That's why keyword research is essential for any digital marketing campaign.

What if you describe your product or service in a different way to how your people search for it?

You won't rank in the search results, and your potential customers won't see you.

To reach your target audience, you need to understand their needs and use the language they use.

To be well optimised for search engines, your site and content should "speak the same language" as your potential customers.

This means using keywords that help connect searchers to your site.

They’re essential for all types of businesses, from solopreneurs and bloggers to the largest enterprises and media outlets.


What types are there?

There are different types of keywords:

  1. Short-tail

  2. Long-tail

  3. Primary

  4. Secondary



These are broad keywords. It could be a single word or phrase that is very generalised.

For example, the keyword might be "car for sale". It doesn't tell you about what kind of car the searcher is looking for – just that they are interested in cars for sale.

The thing about short-tail keywords is they often have a high search volume (which means there are lots of people searching for them).

So you might be tempted to focus on them to reach a higher number of people.

But with a higher search volume comes tougher competition.

Let’s say you want your local insurance business to rank for “home insurance”; it’s going to be tough to rank above the big guys, like AAMI or Allianz.

Short-tail keywords also don’t give you enough information to work with.

If someone is searching for "house", how do you know if they want to buy a house, look at pictures of houses, or get spoilers for the TV show, House?



Long-tail keywords are a combination of several terms. When someone types more detail into a search engine, this is a long-term keyword.

For example, rather than searching “vanilla slice”, they search for “easy vanilla slice recipe for kids”.

It narrows the search into something more manageable.

This means the search engine can return more specific results and the searcher doesn’t have to wade through pages of vanilla slice websites.

It’s good news for the website owner too. The more specific the keyword, the less competition fighting over it and the more likely it is you’ll be seen by your target audience.

Questions are also common long-tail keywords, such as “where’s the best place to get sushi in Melbourne?” or “how long does it take to roast a whole chicken?”.

Question is, how do you find long-tail keyword ideas?

Go to Google’s suggested search terms. Type the beginning of a phrase starting with "how to" or "why do", including your topic.

For example, say your shop sells BBQs, and you want some blog ideas.

Typing in “BBQ how to cook” results in the suggested searches:

So, you can write blog posts on how to cook the perfect ribs or steak and be confident they are popular topics that will bring visitors to your site.



The primary keyword is the keyword that you are focusing on before any other.

This is the keyword you most want to rank for, which makes it the most important keyword in your page and content.

As a result, the primary keyword should be included in a site's heading, domain, meta title and meta description.



Secondary keywords play a supporting role to the primary keyword. They can be either short-tail or long-tail keywords.


Where should I use them?

Keywords are used in lots of different places to get results for search marketing. Here are a few places you can (and should) use them:

  • On-page: In the URL, page title, meta tags, meta description, image alt tags and titles, body text.
  • Content: In blogs, FAQs, social posts and video descriptions
  • Search Ad campaigns


Using your keywords in all of these places will help tell search engines what your site is about and help you soar up the relevant rankings.

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