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What the heck is a keyword?

You’ve probably heard this word banded around quite a bit online. And you know it relates to search, but what exactly is a keyword?

Well, to make matters more confusing, keyword isn’t always just one word. You can have a whole sentence that’s a keyword.

Basically, a keyword is anything we type into Google in order to find something.

Here are some examples:

🐭 Disney

🏄‍♀️ Surf schools near me

🏴󠁵󠁳󠁨󠁩󠁿 What’s the capital of Hawaii?

🏝️ Is it better to visit Oahu or Maui?

So you can see, sometimes we google just one word (e.g. a brand or name), and other times, we type whole questions into google.

You might also hear people talk about short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. Bascially, a short keyword is one with only one or two words. A long-tail keyword is anything with more than three words.

A common generalization that’s useful to know is that short-tail keywords are used when we’re looking for a specific thing, or when intent to take action is high. We call these high-intent keywords.

We use long-tail keywords when we’re looking for information or researching a topic. We call these informational keywords.

So when we’re selling things online, whether that be a product or a service, it’s really important to have a mix of both high-intent keywords, and informational keywords, as they will be relevant to different people in the course of their purchasing journey.


My name's Claire and I’m an SEO and content strategy expert. I help startups and ambitious businesses improve their content, so that customers can find your website in search, and so that when they do, they convert.


I’m a former startup CEO, and I’ve worked for some of the world’s biggest publishers (Penguin Random House, Oxford University Press), as well as training with Google's in-house SEO team. I even built a website to attract 45k in organic search visitors/month. Drop me a line if you need help of any kind with SEO and content.


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