Keyword research is a critical part of any SEO strategy. If you get it right, then you’ll bring high volumes of relevant traffic to your site. In this article, we are going to look at what keywords are, and why you need to research them.

Keywords are essentially the bridge between a website and a search engine. They are what helps a search engine identify what your site is about, and how relevant it is when a certain term or phrase is searched for by the user. A search engine keeps a database of websites which they have filed away under the appropriate tags/topics to be able to produce fast results. 

You can make sure you have a much stronger chance of appearing in the SERPs by optimising your website for the right keywords.


There can be hundreds of options when it comes to keywords. So how do you know which ones you should optimise for?

Keyword research.

The general rule of thumb is to look for keywords which have a high search volume (meaning your website will have more opportunities in the SERPs) but on the lower scale of competition (meaning you won’t be fighting multiple large companies for a piece of the pie). We will look at how you can do this a little later in the article. First, let’s take a look at what we mean by keyword optimization…

Keyword Optimisation Tips

Now when you think of keyword optimisation, you may be tempted to stuff your chosen keyword into your content as many times as possible. This may have worked a few years back, but now, keyword stuffing is a huge no-no!

When adding your keyword, it needs to be as natural as possible. But there are a few places that you want to ensure this happens. The three most important places to optimize are:

  • At the beginning of your title tag;
  • Your meta description;
  • The first 50 to 100 words in your content.

And there are still some other ways to optimize your keywords that will help when it comes to ranking your website:

  • Your image alt tags (preferably the first image on the page);
  • In the page’s URL;
  • In at least one of your subheadings;
  • 2-3 times (or more depending on your word count) throughout the content.

As you can see there is plenty you can do to fully optimize for a keyword whilst keeping your content natural.

Types of Keyword

The types of keyword that you decide to use on your website determine whether you bring in visitors who can offer you the most value. There are seven keyword types you should learn about:

1. Generic Keywords (aka Short-Tail)

Generic keywords will isolate a topic, but you won’t get any further detail. Usually known as ‘short-tail’ keywords. For example: “Shoes,” “Vacuum Cleaner,” or “Book.”

You should stay away from these types of keywords as the competition is usually very high and you have no idea around the search intent so conversions are generally pretty low.

2. Brand Keywords

Brand Keywords are pretty self-explanatory. They include a keyword relating to the brand of the product, for example: “Adidas shoes,” “Dyson vacuum cleaner,” “Harry Potter book.”

They are a step up from a generic keyword but it is still unclear what the intent behind the search is.

3. Broad Keywords

Broad keywords are more promising. They provide good levels of traffic and have much less competition.

Usually, the searcher has decided what they are looking for but may only have an approximate idea. For example: “Running shoes,” “Upright vacuum cleaner,” “Children’s books.”

These are still open to a little interpretation but the search is more specific.

4. Exact Keywords

Exact keywords show that the searcher knows exactly what they are trying to find.

This type of keyword is good to optimize for because they usually convert very well and have high search volumes. For example: “Best running shoes,” “Vacuum cleaner reviews,” “Recommended children’s books.”

There is a problem with exact keywords though: they have a lot of competition.

5. Long-Tail Keywords

In my opinion, long-tail keywords are the best type of keyword to focus on.

They generally have lower search volume, meaning they have less competition but they have a really high conversion level. For example: “Which running shoes are the best for marathons,” “Upright vacuum cleaner with retractable cord,” “Which children’s books are best for ages 8-10.”

Long-tail keywords have the right balance between competition, conversion, and traffic.

6. Buyer Keywords

Buyer keywords will have a word attached that signals the searcher is ready to part with their cash. For example: “Buy Adidas running shoes,” “Dyson vacuum cleaner discount,” “Children’s books coupons.”

If this fits with your business model, then optimising for buyer keywords can be a really smart move.

7. Tyre Kicker Keywords

Tyre kicker keywords usually indicate that the user isn’t one that’s going to benefit you in anyway (unless this aligns with your business strategy.) For example: “Free running shoes,” “Dyson vacuum cleaner exchange,” “Download children’s books.”

There is usually a word attached to the keyword which shows the are not looking to spend money.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we have reviewed what keywords are, why they are important and how keyword research is crucial for the success of your website.

We looked at the best places to optimise your keywords on your website without resorting to keyword stuffing. And you now know the seven types of keywords used, meaning you can make a decision which type is best for your business.


With last week’s announcement that it will extend same-meaning close variants to phrase match and broad match modifier, Google said it would be changing keyword selection preferences to help prevent keywords from competing against each other. This doesn’t mean there still aren’t times when keywords compete with each other on Ad Rank. To clarify how Google Ads’ keyword selection preferences are designed to work with same meaning keywords, we’ve mapped out several scenarios.

Existing preferences trump new same-meaning matching. In the initial announcement, Google said of the changes to keyword selection preferences: “If a query currently matches to an exact, phrase, or broad match modifier keyword that exists in your account, we’ll prevent that query from matching to a different phrase or broad match modifier keyword that’s now eligible for the same auction as a result of this update.”

In other words, Google won’t suddenly pick a different phrase or BMM keyword deemed to have the same meaning as a keyword that’s already triggering on a query. This is how the preferences already work for exact match same-meaning close variants.

The example Google gives is that the query lawn mowing service near me will continue matching to the phrase match keyword “lawn mowing service” even though another keyword in your account, “grass cutting service,” could also now match to that query based on same-meaning matching.

Same-meaning exact match keywords. The example above is how the preferences already work for exact match same-meaning close variants. Within exact match, the keywords that are closest to the query generally take precedence over the other eligible exact match keywords. This has not changed.

For example, the query grass cutting services should trigger the exact match [grass cutting services] not [lawn mowing services] if both are active in an account, regardless of Ad Rank.

New keywords with the same meaning as existing keywords. What happens when you add new keywords to your account that may match more closely to queries than your existing keywords?

For example, if the phrase match keyword “lawn mowing service” is matching the query grass cutting service near me in your account and then you add two keywords, “grass cutting service” and grass cutting.

They all have the same meaning, but the new keywords are closer word matches to the query than the original keyword. They will prevent “lawn mowing service” from triggering on related grass cutting queries.

However, the two new keywords will compete against each other on Ad Rank to determine which triggers the ad.

In other words, the previous matching preferences will take precedence over same-meaning matching.

[Ad Rank is a calculation of max CPC, quality score (expected CTR, ad relevance, landing page experience), the expected impact of ad extensions and ad formats as well as other contextual factors like location and device. It determines if your ad is eligible to show and where it appears on the page relative to other ads.]

Adding a phrase match or BMM of an existing exact match. Let’s say we have the exact match [lawn mowing service] in our account. Because of same-meaning close variant matching, it triggers on the query grass cutting service. If you add the phrase match “lawn mowing service,” will it compete with the exact match?

Again, it shouldn’t. The exact match and it’s close variants will take precedence because the new phrase match would only eligible based on the new preferences (i.e. same-meaning). Again, the previous matching preferences will supersede the new same-meaning matching for phrase match and BMM.

Adding an exact match of an existing phrase match or BMM keyword. This is the inverse of the previous scenario. If I have the phrase match “grass cutting services” in my account already and add the exact match [grass cutting services], will the exact match trigger for the query grass cutting services. Will it compete against the phrase match?

Since the query is an identical match for the exact match keyword, the exact will be preferred. However, if the keywords are in different ad groups, and the phrase keyword has a lower bid and higher Ad Rank, it can be used instead.

Caveats to note. Keep in mind, these systems aren’t perfect, particularly when it comes to nuances. Don’t expect your idea of “same meaning” and the system’s to always align. Have a routine for monitoring your search terms reports and adding negative keywords.

These factors can also cause same-meaning matching to kick in when it otherwise wouldn’t:

  • Match types in separate ad groups. Given that match type variations of keywords in different ad groups will compete on Ad Rank, that’s something to keep an eye on and consider grouping under one ad group for eaiser management.
  • Paused keywords. All of the scenarios above assume the keywords are enabled. If you pause a keyword in your account, it becomes invisible to the auction system and won’t be included in the keyword selection process. To the system, it’s as if it’s no longer in your account at all. This means if you pause a keyword the other same-meaning keywords in your account could now trigger on the queries the paused keyword had matched to. For example, pausing “lawn mowing services,” will shift lawn mowing services near me queries to trigger “grass cutting services.”
  • Limited budgets. Limited budgets can throw a wrench in your matching. Google says, “While we do our best to match existing traffic to your keywords, there may be infrequent instances where this will not be the case. For example, if a campaign is budget constrained it may not be eligible to show on all queries.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.


For particularly popular, lucrative search terms on Amazon, organically moving up towards the top of the first page of results is a long-term challenge, and buying ads on those terms can be prohibitively expensive – perhaps even unprofitable. This has led many sellers into the “magic keyword” trap – attaching an incredibly large number of keywords to their product listing, putting some budget behind ads to get a top placement if and when they are searched for, and hoping to find a diamond in the rough. The problem? The amount of possible search terms on Amazon is essentially limitless, but an analysis showed that most, at current bid levels, are likely to receive less than one click per day on average. By spreading out your budget across so many keywords with little to no volume, gathering enough data to intelligently shift budget towards the terms that actually will result in meaningful sales becomes nearly impossible. Across Amazon, less than 1% of search terms generate an average of three or more clicks per day.

This data came to light thanks to Alin Constandache, a colleague of mine and lead researcher at Teikametrics, who kept running into issues while attempting to train conversion rate models for our network of Amazon advertisers. Briefly stated, Alin tests and trains new models by selecting a random sample of keyword and click data, which is split at random into a training set and a holdout set, for out-of-sample testing.

This approach had worked well for Alin in other applications, but in April 2019 the conversion rate models he built all seemed to perform equally poorly on the holdout data, all in exactly the same ways. Digging in, Alin analyzed all keyword and associated performance data for the first four months of 2019 – this amounted to roughly 6.5 million keywords across several thousand advertisers. The result was clear, as seen below.

uscule share of revenue to a larger campaign – less than 0.001% on average. Only when a keyword captured an average of at least three clicks per day did it drive a share of campaign revenue commensurate with the amount being paid to place that ad. These are the keywords that sellers should focus on, as they drive enough volume for algorithms to reliably be trained and benchmarked against – helping make better decisions over the near and long term. Yet, only 31,714 were found to have three or more clicks per day – just 0.5% of all keywords studied.

There are plenty of services around, both free and paid, for identifying these meaningful keywords to begin spending against. The bottom line illustrated by this study is that it is worth marketers investing in that work upfront rather than throwing a bunch of keywords into their product backend on Amazon and thinking they are going to strike gold.

More specifically, for marketers to improve performance on Amazon and reduce the time wasted on low-volume keywords, you also need to develop a threshold for when to remove a given keyword. As a basic example, you could remove keywords associated with a product that has been active for at least 30 days but have averaged less than 0.1 clicks per day. This would result in a negligible impact on overall revenue, but allow you to focus your budgets and time towards keywords that are driving meaningful sales.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Teikametrics. In his current role, Andrew manages the analysis, editorial direction and strategy for Teikametrics’ reporting on online retail advertising and the larger online retail marketplace. Prior to his time at Teikametrics, Andrew served as the manager of data insights and media relations at Salsify, the manager of market insights and media relations for advertising automation software provider Nanigans, and as the market analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network. Andrew’s commentary on online trends has been quoted by the New York Times, Re/Code and The Guardian, among other outlets.