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Deciding which keywords to target for SEO is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in growing your website’s traffic, and with it your business’ customers. Get it right, and you’ll have plenty of relevant, high quality traffic to your site which will in turn generate more sales and leads. Get it wrong though, and you may find lower numbers of less well-targeted and interested individuals arriving at your site. We’ve put together this guide to help you first understand what to look for in a keyword, as well as ideas of how you can source keywords for your business regardless of whether you run a B2C or B2B website. Let’s get started!

Keyword Metrics-an overview

First of all, it’s worth us going through the main metrics (both qualitative and quantitative) used to measure keywords, as these can make a big difference in choosing correctly. Data can be very illuminating, because whilst a brainstorming session to highlight the kinds of search terms people use to find your website can be helpful, it’s always good to back up your hunches with data and make sure the search terms you target are appropriate, realistically achievable, and will bring a sufficient benefit to your site.

In order to see the quantitative metrics, you’ll usually need to pay for third-party software (such as SEMrush or KeywordKeg). Although, if you run campaigns on Google ads you’ll be able to see some of the below data (such as search volume and cost per click). If budgets are tight, many tools offer free trials, or alternatively you can simply pay for a month or two’s worth of data whilst initial research is conducted.

Keyword Metrics (qualitative)

Short tail, Long Tail

This qualitative way of categorising keywords divides them into buckets based on a combination of the length of the query the user has typed in, and the amount of searches the keyword receives. This can help to broadly classify keywords based on popularity and specificity. We’ll go into more detail about what each of them means below.

Short Tail

A ‘short tail’ keyword is one which tends to be short in length, and usually has a high number of monthly searches signifying a broad level of interest in the topic or entity. For example, ‘Adidas’ or ‘Jumpers’ would be short-tail keywords.

As a general rule, we’d advise against targeting too many short-tail keywords. Whilst monthly search volumes can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands for the most popular terms, there are some problems with targeting these sorts of keywords:

  • Competition will be fierce, and your domain will be competing against strong and well-established sites. Also, you’re more likely to find that ads and SERP features (mentioned below) will reduce the visibility of your site for the term even if you do make it onto page 1 for it.
  • Many short-tail keywords can be somewhat ambiguous, with the user often not sure of what they want, or perhaps looking for something more general that what your site is offering. In many cases, there will be no intent to make a purchase or take a similar transaction-based action.

Long Tail

Long-tail keywords are, unsurprisingly, the opposite of short-tail keywords – they tend to be long, complex queries that often take the form of full sentences, and because they are so specific they tend to have correspondingly low search volumes and competition levels. As a result, the user intent behind such searches tends to be much more aligned to either finding out specific details of a product or service prior to purchasing, as such users tend to be much further down the sales funnel than those at the top using broader keywords. Therefore, they’re much more likely to convert if they do land on your site.

This can present a great opportunity – while it isn’t time-efficient to create pages for individual long-tail keywords, if you are able to identify clusters of them and tie them all together in a blogpost or FAQ page, it’s possible to capture significant amounts of very relevant traffic that has a high chance of converting.

Search intent

The other qualitative component to keywords is what the user intends to achieve with their search. We touched on search intent above in terms of how it’s broadly associated with the different tail types, but it’s worth going into a bit more detail on what the different intent types mean as well.


Transactional search intent will generally include words like ‘purchase’, ‘buy’, ‘sign up’ or subscribe ‘subscribe’ alongside keywords related to your product and service, and unsurprisingly usually denotes that the user wants to make a transaction! They tend to be highly prized, as they often convert well for pages ranking highly. Although we wouldn’t recommend focusing exclusively on this type of search intent, it’s certainly a good idea to identify your most important transactional keywords and monitor them.

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Users typing in ‘navigational’ searches usually know the site they want to go to, and what they want to do on it – whether that’s to visit the site of a particular brand, to look at a celebrity’s Twitter page, or to login to their Ebay account. As such, it isn’t really something that can be optimised for, although it’s something to be aware of if some of those searches are relevant to your brand. Also, some terms might indicate problems – if you notice through Google Search Console that a disproportionately large number of people are searching for ‘delete [company name] account’ then that might be something worth looking into!


These sorts of searches will typically include people looking for reviews or other information about a product or service, as well as content that relates to both your company and wider industry as a whole (car enthusiasts might be looking for maintenance articles and videos, for example, and those using beauty products might be interested in seeing tutorials on how to apply those products). They represent a great way to interact with both your potential and current customers on a range of topics. Although users finding your site via these search terms might not convert immediately, it’s possible to cultivate a great deal of long-term value through engaging with visitors through informational content. Don’t just view your site as a store or business, view it as a source of information, content and thought leadership.

Search features

As we’ve mentioned in some of our other contentan increasingly noticeable part of Google’s search results is the many additional search features that it encompasses. As well as the normal organic listings and text ads, you will no doubt at some point have seen one or more of the below:

  • Instant answer boxes
  • A ‘Knowledge Graph’
  • Local search results (also called the map pack)
  • Google Shopping ads

Tools that summarise the SERP features for a given keyword can be very useful in this regard, as they can give an at-a-glance indication of whether the search results contain too many SERP features (meaning even if you got to position #1 you still wouldn’t be above the fold). For example, in the below screenshot from SEMrush, we can see that the keyword triggers featured snippets, people also ask (x2) and a video result as well.

There is a positive side to all of this though – some Search features can be optimised for! This means that even if you don’t show in the top few spaces on the page for organic results, or even if there are ads above you, you may still show at the top of the page if your page qualifies for one of the ‘optimisable’  features.

As a general rule, the following count as optimisable SERP features:

  • Featured snippets
  • People also ask
  • Sitelinks

Formatting your content correctly can make a huge difference to qualifying for SERP features (particularly paragraph formatting) and is well worth reading up on.

Keyword Metrics (quantitative)

Search volume

Search volume, also known as average monthly searches, gives an indication of how many users search for a given term over a one-month period. Generally higher is better, with the aforementioned caveats of longer-tail, lower volume terms usually converting better. It’s worth noting that search volumes can fluctuate dramatically depending on seasonality, viral trends, and other factors, and it certainly shouldn’t be the main factor in determining which keywords you choose for your website.


An ‘impression’ is counted whenever a search results page is loaded by a user, and your page is on there (for example, if you were on page one you’d automatically get an impression when the search term was entered, and if you were on page two you would get one if the user went to page 2, etc). In this regard, an ‘impression’ is an approximate measure of how many times your page is ‘seen’ in search results. In reality it’s best to take impression numbers with a pinch of salt, as being at the bottom of a results page would mean that you’d be eligible for an impression, even if a large proportion of users didn’t scroll down and see your page.

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If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

Clickthrough rate is the number of impressions the keyword (or page) receives, divided by the number of clicks. It’s useful for measuring how engaged users are with you keywords and pages, although bear in mind that searches for brand-based terms are likely to have far higher CTRs than non-branded searches. You can find this data in Google Search Console, for organic searches, or through third-party integrations with Google Analytics.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost per click is exactly what it says on the tin – an approximation of roughly how much a click in Google Ads would cost for the given keyword. Although this isn’t a PPC focused guide, CPC can be useful for SEO as well as it gives us a fair idea of how competitive the keyword is.


Competition, or ad density, refers to the number of ads for the term, and is described as low, medium or high – where low means there will (usually) be no ads, and high where there will be many. Useful if used alongside CPC.

Finding Keywords for ecommerce, lead generation and content websites

Now that we’ve covered what to look for in a keyword, it’s time to go out and find some! For each website type that you may own, we’ve created a series of short sections detailing the keyword type as it relates to the website’s content (for example, ecommerce websites will have product pages and categories, lead generation sites will have landing pages, etc.) and then suggest what kind of keywords to pick based on our discussions about keyword metrics above.

All websites

Informational (top of funnel) keywords

What they are:

We spoke about informational keywords above when we talked about search intent, and it’s in this context that we’ll go through them now. Informational keywords are often undervalued, as they provide a way to connect with customers on a more long-term basis than just targeting those looking to buy something in the immediate term.

Suggested qualitative type of keyword to target:

Longtail, informational

How to find them:

Building a ‘customer persona’ and going through a typical user’s journey from first wanting to learn more about a product or service to actually purchasing it can be a valuable research tool. For example, let’s assume that we sell fishing supplies, and our potential target audience are keen anglers. The sort of content they might be looking for online could include tutorials on how to fly fish, they might be looking to find the best angling spots in their local area, or they might be looking to find what kind of bait they need for a particular fish. Just from this short brainstorm, we’ve identified 3 angles that we could use for content to engage with our audience on an initially non-commercial level.

FAQ keywords

What they are:

FAQ keywords will typically relate to common queries that customers will have relating to your product, service, or perhaps aspects of your industry that they may not know much about. Question-related keywords as a subset of informational keywords are good to target as they tend to be lower competition, and you can easily build rapport with your visitors by answering their queries, as well as potentially improving your search visibility through being featured in ‘people also ask’ sections.

Suggested qualitative type of keyword to target:

Longtail, informational

How to find them:

Conducting a brainstorming session with your customer service teams, product experts and other individuals with a deep knowledge of the goods and services you offer is invaluable, as they will be aware of the main ‘pain points’ that consumers may have when they interact with you. By tying all of this together in a comprehensive FAQ section for your website, you can potentially save your customer service team some hassle, as well as generating traffic and leads through organic SEO.

Keyword Types For Ecommerce websites

Category page keywords

What they are:

Category keywords will generally be short and medium tail keywords as discussed above, that are all related to one of your site’s main category or subcategory pages. It’s easily possible for a category page to be able to rank for dozens or even hundreds of keywords (as they may be classified as relevant for a large number of different searches) and as such proper optimisation of your site’s categories for SEO can make a big difference.

Suggested qualitative type of keyword to target:

Short/longtail, transactional

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If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

How to find them:

If you, for example, mostly sold various brands of walking boots, then optimising your product categories and adding copy for top-level versions of the product (walking boots, hiking boots, etc.) can be useful. If you’re struggling for ideas, have a look at the product categories and subcategories that your competitors have – both in terms of the content and metadata that they use on the pages, and (if you have 3rd party tools) then finding what search terms they rank for can be a goldmine.

Product page keywords

What they are:

Generally speaking, product page keywords will simply be the name of your products. There might be slight variations in terms of what your customers are typing into the search engines and what you’ve called the product on your site, so it always pays to check you and your customers are on the same page. Whilst you won’t need to ‘find’ keywords for this category as such, it is important to track them and to make tweaks and adjustments if necessary to on-page optimisation to make sure you’re aligned with searcher intent. Product pages often fall under the definition of long-tail keywords, particularly for large ecommerce stores with many closely related but distinct products.

Suggested qualitative type of keyword to target:

Short/longtail, transactional

How to find them:

If you can put together a spreadsheet of your products and how they’re named on the site (via the title tag and H1 tag), this will give you an easy list of terms to keep track of. In terms of researching and finding more, consider variations such as:

(Product name) review

(Product name) FAQ

(Product name) alternatives

If scutinising related keywords to the products provides good informational content opportunities, you could consider writing blog or FAQ content on these, then linking through to your main product pages (this is a great way to drive traffic to product pages, which can be tricky to promote sometimes!).

Keyword Types For Lead Generation websites

Landing page keywords

What they are:

For websites focusing on lead generation, landing page keywords will typically be those related to your main lead funnel pages (e.g. pages with contact forms, sign up forms, etc.) on your site.

Suggested qualitative type of keyword to target:

Short/longtail, transactional

How to find them:

As with product page keywords, lead-generation businesses such as SAAS (software as a service) companies, the terminology used by yourselves as a business can often be different to what your customers will be searching for, so it pays to draw up a list of terms that are related to your core offerings as these will often be the sort of things that people will search for, especially if most of your services are branded rather than using more generic terminology (for example, ‘mapping software’ as opposed to ‘Geoplan elite mapping solutions’ as a made up example).


We hope you’ve found this guide useful. If you need help with achieving your business goals, why not contact us today and our friendly, experienced team will do their best to help you on your way to online success!

Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson is a SEO specialist at Agency51, and enjoys working on and writing about all aspects of technical SEO for a wide variety of websites and industries.

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