Short Tail vs. Long Tail Keywords – Which Rank Faster

The two main types of keywords are long tail keywords and short tail keywords.  Short tail vs. long tail keywords is the question that many people ask when they are preparing to optimize their websites for the search engines.

There are several differences between the two kinds of keywords in terms of competition, monthly searches, conversion and targeted traffic.

The role keywords play in search engine optimization is vitally important. Keywords must be chosen very carefully to be effective in increasing the search engine rankings of a website. But again, should you choose to focus on the short tail or the long tail keywords?

The essential difference between long and short tail keywords is that the short tail keyword, referred to as the top-level keyword, is a more general keyword that consists of just a few words.

An example of one is “losing weight”. On the other hand, long tail keywords usually consist of up to about six words that very precisely describe what the searcher is looking for in the search engines. A good example of such a keyword would be “losing weight after pregnancy”.

Essential Differences between Short and Long Tail Keywords

  • Competition – Short tail keywords are very competitive for a marketer to get ranked in the search engines. The main reason for this is, because of the large amount of searches for these keywords a month (could be as much as 100 times more than long tails), a large number of marketers are trying to rank their websites for these short keywords in anticipation of getting high rankings in the SERPES and getting massive traffic as a result.
  • Competition – Long Tail Keywords are far less competitive and may even have no competition, have far fewer searches every month, but a website optimizing them can be ranked more easily in the search engines.
  • A good approach, to make up for the small monthly searches, is to use a few dozen long tail keywords each having about 1,000 searches a month, and ranking will be easily achieved with a potential of 20,000 visitors monthly.
  • Conversion – With long tail keywords the visitors convert very well to clicks and to sales pages. This is because the visitor knows very precisely what he wants (it could be “how to lose weight after pregnancy”), and if the website has accurately optimized for that long tail keyword, conversions will easily happen.

Locating the right keywords for your business can be a challenging process. What might help is to image that you are the searcher looking for the product that your website promotes, and imagine again the precise words you would use to arrive at your own site. This will enable you to come up with a number of different keywords quite quickly.

This is just the start of the process and you can further refine the process until you arrive at just the specific keywords you are looking for. When you do, they will be the keywords to optimize your website for in the search engines.

It is important to remember that when searchers use short tail keywords in the search engines, they are usually just looking for information on something. Marketers who choose to optimize those short tail keywords do not usually make great conversions with such highly competitive keywords, and since many people optimize with them, it is doubly hard to compete.

The scenario is different with long tail keywords however, because these keywords are so highly targeted, and despite the fact that the number of monthly searches for them is small, the conversion that occurs when a searcher reaches the website is much higher. This is especially true because these searchers are in the buying phase of the buying process.

Short tail vs. long tail keywords is sometimes a difficult decision to make, but each webmaster should decide for himself depending on what he is trying to achieve.

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