The Tale of Long & Short Tail Keywords

Disclaimer: The following is a hypothetical situation meant to educate on the matter of long and short tail keywords. No beards were harmed in the making of this scenario.

It is a cold, stormy night. So cold that there is nothing better for you to do than stay inside, turn on the computer and do the thing you’ve been procrastinating for the past several weeks: examine your SEO strategy.

“Ugh!” you groan, “I’m getting hardly any clicks or conversions. I don’t understand! I sell facial-hair grooming products in Sweden. How can I possibly be failing?” You search online for “beard oil Sweden” and sigh as you see competitor site after competitor site appear on the top of the first page, with yours nowhere to be seen.

 

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You shake your fist at the screen, wondering if you stand a chance at improving SEO with the existence of bigger, established competing companies out there able to bid so much more than you on relevant keywords.

What you don’t realize is that, while you’ve been focusing on the obvious short tail keywords, you’ve been neglecting long tail keywords.

“Long tail keywords?” you ask, breaking the fourth wall, “Those words ring a bell, but how can long tail keywords help me?

Well, you may have read about long tail keywords while reading RTB-Media’s blog post about voice search optimization, in which long tail keywords are defined as “longer, more specific keyword phrases.” Instead of using 1-3 word keywords like “beard oil Seattle”, long tail keywords would allow you to use more words to define your product/service in greater detail.

 

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“But aren’t short tail keywords the best at driving traffic?” you ask.

That’s true, but there’s more to it than that. Yes, more searches are done using short tail keywords, which increases web traffic. But what you really want and need is not just traffic to your site–it’s conversions. Long tail keywords can actually give you a better SEO ranking, lower Cost Per Click, a higher Click Through Rate, and a lower Cost Per Acquisition, all while providing you with a higher conversion rate than short tail (source).

“Whoa, slow down…how does it do all that?”

You know how you don’t rank very high on SEO? How you’re not the only business in Sweden catering to beard health? How your competition is able to pay more for the same short tail keywords, which leaves you biting their dust?

“Those are some harsh words. But yes.”

Well, since long tail keywords are more specific and less “popular”, competition for them won’t be as rampant and it won’t cost you nearly as much to bring your ads and your websites up to the top of search. Also, because the keywords are far more specific, it means that the person performing that search has a specific goal in mind that matches your product/service, making your website very relevant. That relevance results in a higher chance of conversion (source), all while maintaining the cost you input relatively low.

“Huh. Okay. So how do I come up with these long tail keywords?

This is where you’ll want to use some introspection. Think about your company’s mission, and its unique proposition. Think about your audience. Who’s most likely to use your product? What’s your market niche? What words is your audience likely to use when searching for beard oil?

“My customers are primarily young men in Stockholm who like to keep their beards smooth and neat, while giving them a nice scent. So…”

Okay, that’s a start. Try “Scented beard oil Stockholm,” or “Beard oil fragrances Stockholm” for example. Get even more specific. Do you sell a particularly successful fragrance? Is your product organic? These are all elements that could help drive more clicks and conversions. Play around with combinations on the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

“Wow okay I’ll definitely be giving this a shot. So does this mean I should give up on short tail altogether?

Actually, using both short tail and long tail keywords is beneficial. Short tail keywords do still have the benefit of drawing in a larger share of your target market. In other words, why pick quality over quantity when you can have both? A good way to go about this is by first using long term keywords to generate more conversions and steady interest in your company, and then utilize the short tail keywords.

“I see, that makes sense. Well, thanks! You’ve been a very informative narrator.”

Happy to help. Good luck keeping Swedish beards looking and smelling great.

 

We’d love to hear about your experiences with long tail and short tail keywords! What advice do you have to offer? Comment below.

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