What is an SEO keyword?

Keywords are the literal key to SEO. As keywords and search terms, they form the core of every search engine query. This makes them the basis of many Google ranking factors. Find out more about SEO keywords.

Whether users enter a complete sentence in the search bar or just type individual words, the central keywords of a search query are called keywords.

Based on these terms, search algorithms comb through the indexes of websites and arrange the hits in the search results (SERPs) according to how closely they match these terms.

This makes keywords the central interface between user intent, website content, and Google ranking factors. And that, in turn, makes them a crucial aspect of search engine and on-page optimisation.

What are the different types of keywords?

Keywords can be divided into technical and qualitative categories. You should know and observe this distinction for keyword optimisation. In this way, you can tailor a website to the most frequent or most relevant keywords and the user intent.

The technical distinction focuses on the length or number of the most important keywords:

  1. Short-tail keywords: short search queries that are limited to essential attributes – consist of only one or two keywords (for example “locksmith London”)
  2. Long-tail keywords: complex sequence of keywords that clearly specify the search (for example “emergency cheap locksmith service in london”)

Long-tail keywords are more complicated to cover through SEO optimisation, but they can ensure that a website is classified as particularly relevant for a search query.

The qualitative distinction is directly related to the intent of the user and is therefore extremely important. There are different categories, but they always come down to the same distinctions: 

  1. Money keywords (commercial keywords): Keywords that are related to the purchase of services or products (for example buy, offer, rent, etc.). But also means keywords that focus on the central services of a non-commercial site (for example learn, tinker, understand).
  2. Brand keywords and non-brand keywords: The distinction between product searches with or without brand/company mention is particularly important for Google Ads. The brand name mention depends on how far users or target groups are in their purchase intentions.
  3. Information-driven keywords: Relatively generic terms around a desired knowledge content are compiled into a specific search query (for example “rock formations Jura”).
  4. Compound keywords: Search queries that are strongly specified with several terms. Analogous to the technical long-tail, viewed here from a qualitative perspective – compounds, leave room for interpretation of user intent, but are so specific that there can be less competition for rankings.

A third differentiator for keywords in online search is primary and secondary keywords. They have less to do with the actual search intent, but may expand your relevance and reach.

Primary keywords are the keywords for which a website should rank directly. Secondary keywords are slightly modified or related keywords that belong to the topic area and therefore play a role in similar search queries.

How do I find the optimal SEO keyword?

Skillful keyword optimisation not only takes into account the thematic relevance of certain keywords, but also their search volume. The more frequently a specific keyword is searched for on Google, the more important it is for SEO.

You can find the optimal SEO keyword in three steps:

  1. Broad SEO keyword research
  2. SEO keyword analysis based on user intent
  3. Individual keyword selection according to content and target group

SISTRIX provides you with an informative tutorial on how you can approach keyword research and what its goals are. There are also various tools available to you for finding the optimal keyword. Google offers Keyword Planner, and the SISTRIX Toolbox contains a number of tools for keyword research, such as Keyword Discovery. However, no program can make the final selection for you, since keywords always have a human origin and the rules of the game can change quickly.


Keywords are the basis of every search engine query and therefore a powerful tool for online marketing and content design. Careful planning and implementation of keyword optimisation is therefore mandatory!

Steve Paine