8 Most Essential Kinds of Key phrases for search engine optimization


We’ll check out the varieties of natural key phrases everybody fascinated about search engine optimization ought to know.

In the event you simply desire a fast overview of the categories, see the cheat sheet beneath. Learn the total article to be taught extra about their significance and how one can discover them to your search engine optimization tasks. 

Keyword types—a cheat sheet

Seed key phrases are phrases or phrases that you should use as the start line in a key phrase analysis course of to unlock extra key phrases. 

If profitable key phrases are the output of key phrase analysis, seed key phrases are the enter. 

Using seed keyword in Keywords Explorer
On this instance, “footwear” is the seed key phrase producing tens of millions of key phrase concepts in Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer.

Methods to discover

There are lots of methods you possibly can give you good seed key phrases:

  • Brainstorming 
  • Investigating opponents’ key phrases 
  • Taking a look at web site navigation menus
  • Observing language individuals use on social media 

And extra. 

Let’s do a fast instance. Say you wish to begin a meals weblog. You come to a competitor’s weblog to search for concepts, and also you discover a recipe for “vegan meatballs.” You possibly can write an identical recipe or use that as a seed key phrase to search out out if individuals seek for any variations of the dish. Listed below are a couple of you’ll discover in Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer

Parent Topics in Keywords Explorer

In our different sources, you’ll find extra nice seed key phrase sources with detailed directions:

2. Key phrases by search intent

Search intent is the explanation behind the search question (i.e., key phrase). It’s what individuals anticipate finding through the use of a key phrase in a search engine. 

Roughly talking, we are able to differentiate 4 primary varieties of intent key phrases: 

  • Informational – The searcher is in search of info, e.g., “who invented the mouse.” 
  • Navigational – The intent is to discover a particular web site, e.g., “fb login.” 
  • Industrial investigation – The searcher desires to purchase a particular product however must do extra analysis, e.g., “ahrefs overview.” 
  • Transactional – Pure shopping for mode, e.g., “purchase iphone 14.”

On high of that, we’ve received so-called high-intent key phrases that point out the consumer is shut to creating a purchase order; business investigation and transactional key phrases mixed.

Be aware

Search intent isn’t a function of the key phrase however a function of the SERP. Categorizing key phrases by search intent is widespread, however it’s not solely technically appropriate. Which means that search intent can change over time, and search engines like google can present a SERP with blended intent (aka fractured intent). 

The extra basic the key phrase, the extra doubtless it would present a blended intent SERP. For instance, when you Google “espresso,” you will note close by espresso outlets, a few huge espresso manufacturers, and articles on espresso. Try our information on blended search intent to be taught extra.

Methods to discover 

You need to use modifier phrases. Listed below are a couple of concepts:

Keyword modifiers by search intent

And right here’s how the method would look in Key phrases Explorer:

  1. Enter a seed key phrase
  2. Go to the Matching phrases report 
  3. Use your modifier phrases within the Embrace filter; be sure to set the filter to “Any
Finding keywords by search intent in Keywords Explorer

3. Lengthy-tail key phrases (topical and supporting)

Lengthy-tail key phrases are search queries that get a small variety of searches per month.

They’ve received their identify from the so-called search demand curve. For any subject, the most well-liked searches are the short-tails (additionally referred to as the fats heads or the top phrases), adopted by the center, and lastly the long-tails. 

Search demand curve

Focusing on long-tail key phrases is a standard tactic in search engine optimization: 

  • They’re much less aggressive than the short- or middle-tail (nevertheless, not all long-tail key phrases are simple to rank for). 
  • There are many them.
  • They’re normally particular; you possibly can entice guests with particular intent.

Methods to discover

There are two varieties of long-tail key phrases. 

There are topical long-tail key phrases, that are matters in themselves. And there are supporting long-tail key phrases, that are much less fashionable methods of trying to find the topical ones. 

It’s an essential distinction as a result of it solely is sensible to focus on topical long-tail key phrases. Right here’s a simple solution to memorize it: consider them as units and subsets. 

Topical keywords vs. supporting keywords

So right here’s how one can discover topical long-tail key phrases in Key phrases Explorer

  1. Enter a broad subject
  2. Go to the Matching phrases report
  3. Set the Quantity and Visitors Potential filters to a most of 300 
  4. Browse key phrases by Father or mother Matters 
How to find topical long-tail keywords


In the event you don’t discover fascinating key phrases, attempt rising the quantity and Visitors Potential. There isn’t a “official” quantity threshold for long-tail key phrases. It’s largely depending on the business. The extra search demand the top time period has, the longer the “tail.”

4. Low-competition key phrases 

Low-competition key phrases, or low-hanging key phrases, are the key phrases which are usually simpler to rank for. 

Their declare to fame is that they may give quicker ends in the brief time period, so they’re typically really useful to new web sites and not using a sturdy hyperlink profile. 

Methods to discover

The best solution to discover low-competition key phrases is to make use of an search engine optimization software that includes a problem rating. At Ahrefs, we merely name it Key phrase Issue (KD). 

  1. Enter a seed key phrase
  2. Go to the Matching phrases report 
  3. Set the KD filter to max 20 
How to find low-competition keywords

This technique will filter out key phrases which are dominated by pages with lots of backlinks. Nonetheless, there’s nonetheless a risk that a few of the key phrases with low KD will probably be harder to rank due to:

  • Common manufacturers on the SERP.
  • Excessive content material high quality from opponents. 

You possibly can additional refine that listing through the use of the “Lowest DR” filter by inputting your web site’s DR. This can present you if web sites along with your DR or decrease already rank within the high 10 or high 5. 

"Lowest DR" filter in Keywords Explorer

Area of interest key phrases are clear and particular matters that attraction to comparatively small, typically specialised elements of a given market. 

They are typically simpler to rank for. And due to their specificity, they are often high-intent ones. In different phrases, every area of interest key phrase can ship you small however extremely certified site visitors in a short while. Put collectively, they could be a pillar of a long-tail enterprise (promoting low volumes of uncommon gadgets). 

Instance key phrase: “vegan child cleaning soap.” It’s received a low search quantity, however it’s very particular. And this product might be fairly uncommon. So there’s a excessive likelihood that the searcher will probably be available in the market for such a product. Plus, it needs to be fairly simple to rank for. 

Niche keyword example with low volume and low difficulty

Methods to discover

Area of interest key phrases are much like long-tail key phrases. Nonetheless, area of interest key phrases aren’t solely about search demand. There’s a market facet to it, so that you’ll must spend extra time researching the precise factor the key phrase stands for. 

For instance, this key phrase has site visitors potential however doesn’t denote an current product. It’s a misspelling.

Fake niche keyword

To resolve this, you should use a few concepts for refining your key phrase listing. Right here’s an instance: 

  1. First, enter a seed key phrase.
  2. Set the Quantity and Visitors Potential filter to one thing low. For my instance, “cleaning soap,” the quantity of 500 is sort of low. 
  3. Use modifier key phrases that refer to make use of circumstances, segments, or options. For example: “various,” “for,” “substitute,” “vegan,” “free.”

And that is how we uncover a distinct segment for customers who don’t need their cleaning soap to have a perfume.

Niche topic example

6. Branded and unbranded key phrases 

Rating for non-branded key phrases means that you can entice people who find themselves trying to find services or products associated to your enterprise however could not essentially know your model. 

Rating for branded key phrases means that you can entice people who find themselves particularly trying to find details about your organization.

As an example the distinction:

Branded vs. unbranded keywords

Methods to discover

So long as the key phrase doesn’t comprise your model or product’s identify, it’s an unbranded key phrase. You possibly can select any of the strategies from this text to search out these.

To search out branded key phrases, you’ve received three choices. 

Possibility 1. In the event you paste your model and merchandise in Key phrases Explorer, you will note branded key phrases together with their search engine optimization metrics and who ranks for them. 

How to find branded keywords—option 1

Possibility 2. You possibly can view solely the branded key phrases the place you rank utilizing Ahrefs’ Website Explorer. Simply embody the branded phrases as modifiers. You too can use the Place filter to see underperforming key phrases. 

How to find branded keywords—option 2

Lastly, you possibly can test all of the branded key phrases the place you don’t rank. To do this, it’s essential examine the listing of all branded key phrases to the key phrases the place you rank. Right here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to do that, plus extra info on branded search. 

7. Your opponents’ key phrases 

Who wouldn’t wish to see their opponents’ key phrases? Amongst many causes, these key phrases are a goldmine of matters to your personal web site. 

When you recognize a competitor’s key phrases, you can:

  • Goal the identical key phrases. 
  • Use your competitor’s key phrases as seed key phrases for analysis.

Methods to discover

There are two methods. 

First, you possibly can go to Website Explorer, paste your competitor’s URL, and go to the Natural key phrases report. 

Organic keywords report in Site Explorer

From there, you should use filters to refine the key phrases listing. For instance, low-competition key phrases or key phrases containing particular phrases. 

You too can view the opponents’ key phrases the place you don’t rank. In Website Explorer, there’s a particular software for it referred to as Content material Hole. All it’s essential do is paste competing domains. 

Content Gap tool in Ahrefs


Your market opponents aren’t essentially the identical as your natural opponents. So if you wish to see who else ranks to your key phrases, use the Natural opponents report. Apart from a listing of domains, you will note key phrases that you just share and key phrases the place you don’t rank.

Organic competitors report

8. Major and secondary key phrases 

The first key phrase is the principle subject of a web page. It’s additionally the one key phrase to optimize a web page for or, in different phrases, the explanation to do key phrase analysis within the first place. 

Secondary key phrases are key phrases intently associated to the first key phrase that you just’re focusing on along with your web page.

As an example, if the first key phrase is the title of the e-book, you should use secondary key phrases as subtopics. 

Primary vs. secondary keywords

Methods to discover

To search out good main key phrases, it’s essential do correct key phrase analysis. Your main key phrases ought to:

  • Have search site visitors potential.
  • Present search intent you possibly can align with.
  • Have enterprise potential or different worth to your web site.
  • Be inside your rating capabilities (many of the time). 

See our full information on key phrase analysis to be taught all the main points. 

Discovering secondary key phrases relies on your main key phrases (as these are associated). You need to use the Associated phrases report in Key phrases Explorer or the Content material Hole software in Website Explorer to check top-ranking articles for a given key phrase.

Related terms report
Be certain to allow the “Prime 10” toggle.
Content Gap tool used for secondary keyword research
In the event you’re utilizing the Content material Hole software for locating secondary key phrases, depart the final enter clean.

Ultimate ideas

These are the eight essential varieties of key phrases. Listed below are a couple of varieties which are simply value understanding: 

  • Zero-volume key phrases – In the event you see an fascinating key phrase with 0 search quantity, it might nonetheless be value focusing on when you suppose its recognition goes to soar or it has excessive enterprise worth to your web site (extra in our tackle zero-volume key phrases). 
  • NORA – No Proper Reply key phrases could change into extra essential with the rise of AI search engines like google. Some consider this type of key phrase is the place AI-generated responses will take many of the clicks from natural outcomes. 
  • LSI key phrases – A delusion of the search engine optimization business
  • Meta key phrases – Value understanding that they’re now not utilized by Google to rank pages. 
  • Paid key phrases – Not used for search engine optimization however value understanding when you’re working paid search adverts. You possibly can be taught extra about their varieties on this information to PPC.

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