NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Top SEOs understand that a high ranking on Google depends partly on how well you’ve optimized your website for certain keywords. We’ve devoted an entire post to conducting keyword research, and you may want to check it out while you’re compiling your desired keyword list. For this post we’ll examine the difference between short and long tail keywords and discuss how you can use them to increase your exposure through SEO.
Long and Short Tail Keywords Explained
Short tail keywords are one or two word phrases, such as “Nashville pet” or “German shepherds.” These are broad and commonly searched keywords. There’s more competition for short tail keywords since they are more commonly used.
Long-tail keywords are typically three words or more, and they are more of a phrase or question than a broad description. The long tail keyword from the previous examples might be “find Nashville pet for adoption” or “adopt a German shepherd in Nashville, Tennessee.”
Which types of keywords are best for SEO purposes? The answer depends a lot on your market and the competition of your keywords. You can find out how competitive your keywords are using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. They tell me “Nashville pet” averages 14,800 monthly searches; “Nashville pet adoption” averages 1,300 monthly searches.
Long and Short Tail Keywords Analyzed
Several studies have shown long tail keywords have higher conversion rates than short tail keywords. This makes sense when you think about it. A user who searches “adopt a German shepherd in Nashville, Tennessee” is probably closer to adopting a dog than one who types “Nashville pets.”
Search Engine Watch, an SEO marketing company, conducted a telling study of short and long tail keywords specifically analyzing them for impressions, clicks, conversions and profitability.
The study leaders categorized keywords by the number of characters to keep their research organized. Keywords were broken down in intervals of five characters. Keywords between 11 and 20 characters received the most impressions and clicks at nearly 60 percent. However, keywords between 31 and 35 characters converted the most customers.
A different study published at Calculate Marketing shows the conversion rate improves as the number of words increases.
“People who make longer, more specific searches have already done their research and know exactly what they want,” says study author Alan Mitchell. “They are further along in the buying cycle so are more likely to open their wallet.”
Using Long and Short Tail Keywords for SEO
One tip to help you create long tail keywords from short tail keywords is this: don’t hit enter. Go to your Google search bar and start typing a word. Google autocompletes your search queries as you type them. To test this theory, I typed “Nashville pet” into a Google search query and didn’t hit enter. Google showed me longer keywords beneath my search bar – “Nashville pet products,” “Nashville pet rescue” and “Nashville pet adoption.” This type of research will give you an idea of what other users are searching for on the Web, which can improve, strengthen and diversify your keywords.
Though studies show long tail keywords help you rank higher, short tail keywords are still effective. . For many of you, short tail keywords like “dentistry” or “plastic surgery” are highly desirable and are extremely relevant to your businesses. Match these keywords with a location or description to make them even more helpful. “Nashville dentistry” will help improve your Google maps SEO, and “Nashville cosmetic dentistry” can further distinguish your business. Your potential customer will also assume that you offer tooth whitening or porcelain veneers because you’ve specified yourself as a cosmetic dentist. Now here’s the warning: Don’t feel like you have to add a location every time you include the word “dentistry.” This will probably annoy your human reader, and it may even cause them to abandon your website. You may have seen content so cluttered with keywords that you lose the real meaning.
Keywords should feel natural when you read them in your content. If they stick out to you, odds are they’ll stick out to your readers. Always choose your readers’ experience over the itch to add multiple long tail keywords just for search engines. Provide clear, meaningful and well-researched content, and your potential customers will find you. In other words: build it, and they will come.