What Are Keywords In SEO? – Things You Should Know in 2024

what are keywords in seo
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Ravi

Feb 27, 2021

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Businesses that are new to digital marketing often wonder what are keywords in SEO. You might have heard ‘keyword’, thrown around loosely while researching digital marketing. You might even have received cold emails that promise you a top search ranking for specific ‘keywords’. But what exactly are they? Keywords have become a buzzword in the digital space. But very few digital marketers understand the true meaning of keywords.

A simplified way to describe keywords would be ‘search terms’. Every time you want to search for something on the Internet, you use one or more words that you feel best describes what you are looking for. That’s a keyword for you. It can be as simple as ‘London Wheel’ or as detailed as ‘how to get to London city airport from Heathrow in less than an hour’.

Some businesses that we spoke to believed that these search terms were random. That’s not true. Believe it or not, tonnes of research has gone into determining winning keywords. That’s because keywords are the key to success on the Internet. No matter what service or business you offer, you have to choose the right keywords to promote it.

If you have always wondered what are keywords in SEO, then this brief primer will explain the basics to you.

Understanding what are keywords in SEO

Let’s start from the beginning. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a set of techniques that is used to optimise a website so that it shows up in Google search results. Most businesses would want to show on top of page one of the search results. That’s because 75% of users never go beyond page one while searching for something. That’s where keywords come into play. The right keywords can help get your business to page one of Google.

what are keywords in seo guide
Keywords help your website gain traffic, leads and business

It is estimated that there are 7 billion searches per day on Google. A significant chunk of this could be related to your business. For instance, you might be baking the best crumble in London. But how do you ensure that your business shows up when someone searches for the ‘best crumble in London’? By optimising your website for that keyword. You see, in this case, ‘The best crumble in London’ turns into an SEO keyword, from a mundane search term.

However, it may or may not be the best keyword to optimise your website for traffic or leads. There are various factors that determine how good or bad a keyword might be.

What are the advantages of ranking for keywords?

There are a plethora of advantages. The most obvious one is website traffic. Every keyword has an estimated search volume. For instance, ‘garden furniture’ was the third most searched home ware-related term in the UK in 2020. It was searched 7.1 million times.

While that’s a very broad keyword, imagine the sheer volume of traffic that it can send to your website. If you are an e-commerce vendor selling garden furniture, you might have just unlocked a treasure. There are more factors that will determine the conversion rate of the traffic of course. But if you are looking purely to drive large amounts of traffic, that keyword’s a goldmine. On that note, let’s take a look at the websites ranking on page one for that keyword on Google UK.

what are keywords in seo practices

There are three distinct types of search listings on a search results page. There’s organic search, local businesses and sponsored listings, or Google ads. Ikea tops the organic search listings, followed by Wayfair & Therange.co.uk. But if you look at the local SEO listings, there are three local businesses in and around Berkshire that show up. These results will change depending on where you are located. For instance, someone searching for garden furniture in London will see furniture stores in London instead of these stores.

what is keyword research
Local businesses using local SEO citations and keyword research to rank for a very competitive keyword

Nevertheless, it’s a great opportunity for small local businesses to rank for a very competitive keyword phrase. Moreover, Google places local search above organic listings. This means that a small business just managed to outrank Ikea and Wayfair. That’s what keywords can do. It does involve some other effective tools like local SEO citations. But keyword research plays an important part.

what are meta keywords
Websites ranking for the same keyword using Google ads.

Lastly, there are sponsored results which use Google Ads. As you can see here, there are different types of Google ads that you can use depending on your business model. Once again, keywords form the crux of an effective Google Ads campaign.

What are keywords in SEO? Understanding keyword selection

In the above-mentioned example, every business selling garden furniture would want to rank for that keyword. 7.1 million searches is an insane amount of traffic. But that’s exactly what makes it a very difficult keyword. Everyone will be focusing their marketing efforts and energy on that keyword. ‘Everyone’ includes a large brand like Wayfair with a marketing budget that stretches beyond the big blue sky. For a small business (that’s not a local business), competing with Wayfair will mostly be a futile effort.

Instead, small businesses should look for better keywords. That segues into the big question. What makes a keyword good or bad? There are three primary parameters that we consider while selecting keywords.

Search Volume

Keywords have different search volumes. When it comes to generating traffic, the more search volume a keyword has, the better it is. Unfortunately, high volume keywords are generally very competitive. Also, there are other factors that determine how effective a keyword will be for a business.

Search Intent

Depending on the kind of service or business you have, you need to consider keywords with search intent. Blogs with great informational content should consider researching keywords with informational intent. For instance, ‘how to bleed a radiator?’. We plugged in this ‘informational intent’ keyword into Keywordtool.io. This is a free keyword research tool that we used for this specific example. It shows that the keyword has a search volume of ‘720’ a month.

what is keyword research in seo
What are keywords in SEO – Understanding keyword intent

That doesn’t seem earth-shattering when compared to 7.1 million a year. But look at the Google Trends data in the next column. The monthly search volume has increased by 81% in the last year. Check the competition analysis as well. We usually take that with a grain of salt. But overall, it looks like a low competition keyword. You also get a bunch of other related keywords with equally good trends statistics. Similarly, you can find keywords with different types of intent. There’s buying intent, purchase decision intent and so on.


You’ve found a great keyword with lots of search volume and the exact intent that you need. But then comes keyword difficulty. This is hands down, the most important factor that helps determine how successful your marketing efforts will be. It shows you how competitive a specific keyword is. There are many ways to determine keyword difficulty, with no clear winner. Here’s a great guide from Ahrefs, which is a third party SEO tool.

What are keywords in SEO – The different types of keywords

While understanding what are keywords in SEO, there’s one more thing you must be aware of. There are two types of keywords that you can choose from. No, we are not talking about intent or the buyer funnel and all that marketing parlance. It’s much simpler.

  • Short Tail Keywords – These keywords are generally made up of one or two words. For example, ‘gardening furniture’ or ‘dog harnesses’. These keywords generally have high search volumes. But they are ridiculously competitive and lack a clear intent. For example, someone searching for dog harnesses might just be looking for information on dog harnesses. That’s why most businesses today focus on long tail keywords for SEO.
  • Long Tail Keywords – These keywords can have anywhere between 3 to 12 words. Sometimes even more than that. The search volumes can often be pale in comparison to short tail keywords. But the competition will generally be much less. Also, the intent tends to be a lot more specific. For example, ‘best breed of dog for seniors’ is a very specific long tail keyword. So is ‘which gaming laptop has the best thermals’.

The rule of thumb in SEO is to target long tail keywords that offer reasonably good search volume, match the intent and are low competition. That’s easier said than done though. That’s precisely why you need a skilled and experienced SEO team.

How to find these keywords

There are numerous ways to find the best keywords for your business. Some of them are free, like Google Keyword Planner. Most of them are paid though. For example, Ahrefs, Keywordtool.io and SEMrush. Before you jump headfirst into these tools, let us warn you. There’s a steep learning curve involved. If it was as easy as plugging in a few words into a tool and finding nuggets, then everybody would be doing it.

It takes months and years of practice to find great keywords. At Rockstar Marketing, we use a combination of the best paid keyword tools to perform keyword research for our clients. That’s what allows us to find long-tail keywords that are untapped and easy to rank.

What are keywords in SEO – Using keywords for SEO

what are organic keywords
Tailoring your marketing efforts around winning keywords

Once your SEO team finds the perfect keyword for your business, it’s time to start targeting it. You should direct your content marketing efforts towards this keyword. Create a great blog post around it. Produce an engaging video. Make a great infographic. There are numerous ways to target SEO keywords. Do you know that videos are shared 1200% more than text and images combined, on social media?

On your business website, there are four key areas that you should focus on.

  • The URL of the page should always have the keyword you are targeting.
  • The meta tags, such as the title, description and heading should have the keyword as well.
  • The content should naturally include the keyword a few times. There’s no rule set in stone about how many times a keyword should appear on a page. But 1-2% seems to work well.
  • The keyword should also be used in the images on the page. Just add the keyword to the image description, also called ‘alt text’.

Start ranking for the best keywords for your business

Now you know what are keywords in SEO. The question is, are you struggling to rank for the best keywords for your business? Let us rephrase that. Are you struggling to find SEO keywords that offer the best ROI?

Rockstar Marketing can find you great keywords, and help your business rank for them. Speak to our SEO team now.


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