Difference between Long-tail & Short-tail Keywords?

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Keywords seem to confuse me, if anyone can offer good answers or some free resources where I can master the basics of understanding keywords (in general) it'd be greatly appreciated.
#difference #keywords #longtail #shorttail
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    Short tail. Two words.

    Long tail. Three words or more.

    Simple.
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  • Profile picture of the author Miguelito203
    Originally Posted by Metr0idPrIME View Post

    Keywords seem to confuse me, if anyone can offer good answers or some free resources where I can master the basics of understanding keywords (in general) it'd be greatly appreciated.
    Long-tail keywords are keywords that have 3 or more words in them. The more keywords you have, the more targeted it will be. Short-tail is then obviously two or fewer keywords.

    Joey
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  • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
    Short tail: diet, diet plans, detox diet
    Long tail: low cholesterol diet, diet solution program

    I hope you get an idea.

    Also, generally, long tail keywords have lesser searches than short tail.
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  • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
    With respect, both of the previous answers are wrong. The term "longtail keyword" has nothing to do with the LENGTH of the keyword.

    If you choose a niche, say "dog grooming" you will find many "keywords" associated with it. Keywords can be one or more words. The main keyword in this case would be "dog grooming". But you will find other, associated keywords that get fewer searches.

    If you plot the keywords, plus searches, on a graph you will find a distribution. I can't remember what the shape is called, but it's one of those graphs that starts with a high peak and then gradually "tails" off.

    Hence the phrase "long tail" keywords. A long tail keyword is a word or phrase that is associated with the main keyword but gets fewer searches.

    So, for example, if you use the Google keyword tool to find what people are really searching for associated with dog grooming, you might find that 500 people a month search for something like "how can I brush my dog's back feet" (obviously I made that up). That's a long tail keyword (it's on the tail end of the distribution in the graph). It doesn't have so many searches, but it's much less likely to have competition and it would be easier for you to rank a website or article targeted at that specific keyword.
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    • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
      Originally Posted by rosetrees View Post

      With respect, both of the previous answers are wrong. The term "longtail keyword" has nothing to do with the LENGTH of the keyword.

      If you choose a niche, say "dog grooming" you will find many "keywords" associated with it. Keywords can be one or more words. The main keyword in this case would be "dog grooming". But you will find other, associated keywords that get fewer searches.

      If you plot the keywords, plus searches, on a graph you will find a distribution. I can't remember what the shape is called, but it's one of those graphs that starts with a high peak and then gradually "tails" off.

      Hence the phrase "long tail" keywords. A long tail keyword is a word or phrase that is associated with the main keyword but gets fewer searches.

      So, for example, if you use the Google keyword tool to find what people are really searching for associated with dog grooming, you might find that 500 people a month search for something like "how can I brush my dog's back feet" (obviously I made that up). That's a long tail keyword (it's on the tail end of the distribution in the graph). It doesn't have so many searches, but it's much less likely to have competition and it would be easier for you to rank a website or article targeted at that specific keyword.
      With all due respect, Carol, I think long-tail are called so because of their length.
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    • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
      Originally Posted by rjj418 View Post


      Well, I hate to disagree, but this is a quote directly from that link

      "The long tail is a type of statistical distribution where a high-frequency population is followed by a low-frequency population which gradually "tails off"."

      They do usually contain more words, but that isn't why they are called "long tail".

      At least that article explains the graph much better than I did!
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
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        I think we're starting to split hairs folks.

        The OP's question was a simple one. Let's not over complicate matters further than is necessary.

        Newbies don't need long complicated or convoluted answers. Just short bite-sized facts is more than enough for them to be getting on with.

        Otherwise they just end up getting more confused than ever.

        Best,


        Pete Walker
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        • Profile picture of the author Ryan David
          Originally Posted by Pete Walker View Post

          I think we're starting to split hairs folks.

          The OP's question was a simple one. Let's not over complicate matters further than is necessary.

          Newbies don't need long complicated or convoluted answers. Just short bite-sized facts is more than enough for them to be getting on with.

          Otherwise they just end up getting more confused than ever.

          Best,


          Pete Walker
          It's not splitting hairs at all. Long/Short tail keywords have been reduced down to a pretty simplified explanation without anyone really knowing where it comes from.

          Personally, my definition of "long tail keywords" was always keywords that were completely unique, therefore, you couldn't optimize for them. The only way you could increase your likelihood is by putting more words on the page.

          The bigger concept of "The Long Tail" is one that every marketer should know.
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        • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
          Originally Posted by Pete Walker View Post

          Newbies don't need long complicated or convoluted answers. Just short bite-sized facts is more than enough for them to be getting on with.
          .................

          Otherwise they just end up getting more confused than ever.
          They'll be even more confused if the "short, bite-sized" answers aren't facts.

          I'm not going to apologise for trying to correct the misconceptions of others, nor am I going to apologise for explaining what the term really means. (Backed up by the link to Wikipedia that someone posted)

          You can choose for yourself whether or not you want to take the answer on board, as can everyone else.

          As the OP hasn't returned, we don't know whether he or she was interested to know what the term really means or whether they were happy with random explanations.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim@AffEdge
    I'm with Carol on this one. I thought they were called long tail because they were part of the "long tail" of the search volume distribution graph.
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  • Profile picture of the author vliddico
    It doesn't really matter who is right about length or volume graphs, what you need to understand, or what is important if you are wanting to earn money online is how they both actually work.
    A short tail keyword, for example "digital camera" is going to be a highly competitive market (you're going up against every large camera company) to rank in, where is a "cannon 550d EOS digital camera" is more targeted.
    The DIFFERENCE between the two though is really in the mindset of the customer. A customer searching for "digital camera" is likely doing research. A customer searching for "cannon 550d EOS digital camera" is more likely to be a buyer as they know what they are looking for.
    Keywords are important because you can rank quicker for terms that are related more to what a buyer is looking for...so put yourself in your customers shoes. Also, trying combing two short tail keywords with high search volumes together. Like "DigitalCamerasForPhotography.com" etc etc...
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  • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
    I tend to think of long tail keywords as highly specific, and although they usually draw less traffic, they tend to draw higher quality traffic, which leads to higher conversion rates than more general keywords.

    Chris Anderson wrote a book, called "The Long Tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more," that made the concept a popular business topic. This is the original article that came before the book:

    Wired 12.10: The Long Tail

    Microniche websites essentially take advantage of the concept. By targeting a highly specific keyword with an exact match domain, it's easier to rank for the keyword, and you are also targeting a highly specific niche market, so your conversion rates should be higher, assuming you do a good job with your market research.
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  • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
    I tend to prefer building authority sites and going after higher competition keywords. Low competition often also means low $$$ unfortunately. The thought of building dozens of microniche sites that could easily get wiped out at the next Google algorithm change gives me a headache.
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  • Profile picture of the author BIG Mike
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    You're both essentially correct, but I think Rosetrees gave a far more robust answer, which is really more accurate.

    Choosing a long-tail keyword is not always as simple as just grabbing a 5 word phrase related to the original keyword.

    I use my own regression analysis model to find the most viable long-tail keywords available. I often come up with surprising results
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    • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
      What does that involve?
      Originally Posted by BIG Mike View Post

      I use my own regression analysis model to find the most viable long-tail keywords available. I often come up with surprising results
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      • Profile picture of the author BIG Mike
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        Originally Posted by rob-jones View Post

        What does that involve?
        It involves something I'd never share with anyone (not even my wife ).

        No offense, but that's the reason it's "My Own Model" because I don't want everyone using the techniques I use to identify the quality keywords I come up with.

        It's also not something I'd market - it would be like shooting myself in the head
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  • Profile picture of the author Clyde
    No such thing as a short-tail keyword.

    A long-tail keyword though is basically just a micro niche keyword, i.e: a profitable keyword within a competetive niche that's actually, lack competition!

    Hope that clears it up.
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  • Profile picture of the author omy123
    Pet shops near london with low rates--> this is long tail keyword.
    Pet Shops London--> Short Tail
    Initially you should target those long tail keywords which have enough searches.. So that you can drive traffic.. The advantage of long tail keywords is that they dont have much competition..
    after getting some some results with long tail, look for more generic short tail keywords
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    • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
      Hmm, I'd have to disagree. I'd say Pet Shops London is long tail, and the other one is extremely long tail.
      Originally Posted by omy123 View Post

      Pet shops near london with low rates--> this is long tail keyword.
      Pet Shops London--> Short Tail
      Initially you should target those long tail keywords which have enough searches.. So that you can drive traffic.. The advantage of long tail keywords is that they dont have much competition..
      after getting some some results with long tail, look for more generic short tail keywords
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      • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
        Originally Posted by rob-jones View Post

        Hmm, I'd have to disagree. I'd say Pet Shops London is long tail, and the other one is extremely long tail.
        Why so? Because of the length of the keyword? Or the searches the keyword gets?
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        • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
          Originally Posted by Karan Goel View Post

          Why so? Because of the length of the keyword? Or the searches the keyword gets?
          Well, I'd rather stay out of the semantic discussion about what the literal definition of "long tail keyword" is, as that rarely results in making any more money. I'd rather think in terms of the principles that can improve my success.

          What most successful marketers realize is that the keyword someone is searching for is simply a clue to what their intentions are, and if you can figure out the intentions of your visitors, you can make more money.

          You're not going to persuade anyone to buy anything who is not interested in buying something. And like it or not, we make our money by selling stuff. We're internet marketers. That's what we do.

          So a keyword gives us a little inside information into what a person's intentions, mindset, wants, needs and possible next actions are. The better we are at figuring those things out and providing relevant solutions, the more money we will make off our websites.

          There are several factors I like to consider when doing my keyword research...

          Question #1 -How easy will the keyword be to monetize?

          General keywords are going to be harder to monetize, because the person's intentions are not as clear. The more focused a person's intentions are, the easier it is going to be to present them with a product that meets their immediate wants and needs and make your sale or commission.

          Whether a keyword is short or long is irrelevant. Some very long keyword phrases are still very general, and some very short keyword phrases are very specific.

          The length of a keyword is not what determines how easy it will be to monetize. The meaning and implications of the keyword are what are important here.

          Question #2 - How much competition is there, i.e. how many other marketers are targeting that keyword?

          If you are bidding on PPC, high competition would mean higher cost per click for you. If you are doing SEO, higher competition would mean more time and energy spent optimizing your site and building backlinks. I do a lot of SEO, so I generally think in terms of SEO competition.

          There is not necessarily a causal relationship between the length of a keyword and the amount of competition. However, in most cases, longer keywords are easier to rank for, because in the eyes of non-human search engine algorithm, they are more specific. To a search engine, more letters equals more specific, but we know that's not true.

          A three word keyword will most likely be easier to rank for than a two word keyword. However, that may not be the case. It all depends on the keyword.

          Question #3 - How much search volume does a keyword have?

          Search volume is obviously very important. The more searches there are for a keyword, the more people you have to market products to. If you are doing SEO, given the option between ranking for a low volume keyword or a high volume keyword, ignoring all other factors, you're always going to choose higher volume.

          Don't make the mistake of thinking that low volume is better. It's not. Low search volume doesn't mean lower competition or higher monetization value. They are independent of each other and should be considered separately.

          Sometimes very general keywords have low search volume, and sometimes very specific keywords have high search volume. Sometimes keywords with low search volume are highly competitive, and sometimes keywords with high search volume have low competition.

          There's no perfect sweet spot for the search volume, monetization value and competition for a keyword. It all depends on your specific market and your approach.

          Here's an example:

          I have one website that ranks #1 for a very specific keyword in the fitness niche.

          In answer to question #1, the keyword is very easy to monetize, because I have a pretty good idea of my visitors intentions. Because of this, I can send my visitors straight to a relevant product, and the traffic converts pretty well.

          To answer question #2, the keyword is 3 words long, and I have an exact match domain. There was a bit of competition, and it took a little work, but I was still able to rank the site #1 with a little time and effort.

          To answer question #3, the search volume is not terribly high. My ranking gets me about 1500 visitors per month. However, the other two factors allowed me to make money off it.

          Here's another example:

          I have a website that is ranking #1 for a high traffic, 2-word keyword and #2 for a high traffic 1-word keyword in the spirituality niche. It is not "long tail," or whatever you want to call it. They are keywords that give you only a general idea of what the visitor is interested in.

          So question #1 is how easy will it be to monetize? Well, I don't know their exact intentions, wants or needs, so it takes a bit of work to monetize it.

          Question #2 is how much competition is there? Well, I am pretty good at SEO, so the competition levels were within reasonable reach of my resources and abilities. It took a bit of work, but it was manageable. Honestly, the competition was about the same for the keyword in the first example.

          Question #3 is how much search volume is there? Well, the #1 and #2 rankings get me 1500-2000 visitors per day. I get 500-700 email opt-ins per day to my list. So there's a pretty decent amount of search volume.

          In this case, I make money off the keyword, because the search volume makes up for the lack of specificity. I have my email autoresponder sequence set up to systematically segment my list into smaller chunks. Then I market specific products to those smaller niche markets. I may have lower conversion rates overall to all of my traffic, but I can promote multiple products to them over time, and the sheer volume makes up for it.

          The second website makes a lot more money. In all honesty, the SEO competition was about the same. They both took about the same amount of time and effort to rank for. The second site took more time and effort to set up an effective conversion funnel, but it was definitely worth it.

          Both approaches can work well, and there's plenty of other approaches that can work too. You just have to realize what the different factors involved are, and how to use the information you have available to devise the best strategy.

          If someone is searching for "pet shops," their intentions are not terribly clear. Maybe they're looking for the nearest pet shop, but maybe they're not. Maybe they're thinking about opening a pet shop. Maybe they're interested in buying pet products online. Maybe they're not. It's a general keyword. It will take some work to monetize.

          It probably has fairly high competition, but it may not.

          Most likely it has a ton of search volume.

          If someone is searching for a keyword like "Pet shops London," you have a much better idea of what their intentions are. It will be much easier to monetize. If you have a pet shop in London, you would benefit highly from ranking for this keyword, because it is very specific.

          Most likely the competition levels are not terribly high for this keyword, so it may be easy to rank for.

          "Pet Shops London" has very low search volume. So you have to look at the competition levels and monetization potential to determine if it's worth targeting.

          High traffic can sometimes make up for low monetization potential and/or high competition.

          High monetization value can sometimes make up for low traffic and/or high competition.

          The ideal keyword has high traffic, low competition and high monetization value, but keywords like that rarely exist. In reality, you can't have all three.

          If you're just starting out, if you follow the advice of most internet marketing programs, you will probably be looking for low competition keywords with fairly low traffic but fairly decent monetization potential.

          I prefer to put more emphasis on the traffic and monetization potential and less emphasis on the competition. If a keyword will make me money and gets a lot of traffic, then it's probably worth my time, money and effort to beat out the competition.

          That's just my preference.
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          • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
            Originally Posted by rob-jones View Post

            You're not going to persuade anyone to buy anything who is not interested in buying something. And like it or not, we make our money by selling stuff. We're internet marketers. That's what we do.
            Thanks Rob. That was quite an insightful post.

            What tool do you use to analyse competition and searches? Google's own KW tool is HIGHLY misleading, I guess.
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            • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
              Thanks Karan. I think Google's keyword tool is fine for traffic volume, as long as you set it to exact match, and seeing the Adwords CPC pricing is helpful. My favorite keyword tool is Niche Finder by Brad Callen. I've used Market Samurai, but it gives so much info that really doesn't tell you much. Micro Niche Finder is pretty good, but it's a pain to check the SOC(strength of competition) individually, and it's a pain to check the exact match domain availability in both those tools, but Niche Finder makes it easy to see the competition, search volume, domain availability, average number of backlinks of the competition and Adwords CPC prices. That's good enough for me.

              Originally Posted by Karan Goel View Post

              Thanks Rob. That was quite an insightful post.

              What tool do you use to analyse competition and searches? Google's own KW tool is HIGHLY misleading, I guess.
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              • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
                Originally Posted by rob-jones View Post

                Thanks Karan. I think Google's keyword tool is fine for traffic volume, as long as you set it to exact match, and seeing the Adwords CPC pricing is helpful. My favorite keyword tool is Niche Finder by Brad Callen. I've used Market Samurai, but it gives so much info that really doesn't tell you much. Micro Niche Finder is pretty good, but it's a pain to check the SOC(strength of competition) individually, and it's a pain to check the exact match domain availability in both those tools, but Niche Finder makes it easy to see the competition, search volume, domain availability, average number of backlinks of the competition and Adwords CPC prices. That's good enough for me.
                Thanks Rob. You know what, I've always searched for a reliable tool for KW research. And you showed me one.

                Karan
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                • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
                  Glad I could help!
                  Originally Posted by Karan Goel View Post

                  Thanks Rob. You know what, I've always searched for a reliable tool for KW research. And you showed me one.

                  Karan
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                  • Profile picture of the author lalitbansal004
                    Here is Some Example of Longtail keywords:-

                    Cheap Seo Services in India
                    Cheap Seo Services
                    Seo Services in India

                    Short tail keywords:-

                    Seo Services.

                    For Start Link Building Use Long tail keywords ..Because it is Easy to target and the main benefit is that if you use like Cheap Seo Services in India..and Do Backlinks for this..Then It is Also Effect the Kwd Seo Services.

                    So it is Nice to Choose Long tail kwds First.

                    Thanks,
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                    • Profile picture of the author rob-jones
                      I agree with Lalit.

                      I like to take this route as well. For example, you might get a domain like cheapseoservicesindia.com and build your backlinks for your long tail keyword to start, since it is easier to rank for.

                      Then you can work your way up to ranking for "cheap seo services" and "seo services" over time, which will be easier at that point, because your major keywords are contained within the long tail keywords you've already been targeting.
                      Originally Posted by lalitbansal004 View Post

                      Here is Some Example of Longtail keywords:-

                      Cheap Seo Services in India
                      Cheap Seo Services
                      Seo Services in India

                      Short tail keywords:-

                      Seo Services.

                      For Start Link Building Use Long tail keywords ..Because it is Easy to target and the main benefit is that if you use like Cheap Seo Services in India..and Do Backlinks for this..Then It is Also Effect the Kwd Seo Services.

                      So it is Nice to Choose Long tail kwds First.

                      Thanks,
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  • Profile picture of the author Chri5123
    Also a little tip when you are researching keywords. You already have all of the information you need.

    All you need to do is head over to the Google keyword tool and think what YOU would type into to find the product/service you are researching. In most cases if you would type it in then someone else has and then it is just a matter of looking up how many people are searching for the item.

    Chris Jones
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  • Profile picture of the author obrain
    long tail keyword that means where you can make visiter that can lead your business,But in case of short term keyword you get more visiter for your web site but not maximame convert them to a lead to your web site.I think lonk term keyword is better than short.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rough Outline
    This is why people get so confused when doing keyword research, please do not define terms if you do not know the correct answer.

    A long tail keyword is called a long tail keyword not because of keyword length, that is a myth and short tail keywords should really be called head keywords.

    Just look at this simple diagram...



    That is how a niche looks into terms of keywords and traffic, keywords in the green zone are head keywords, these get the most traffic per keyword and the keywords in the yellow section are long tail keywords, they individually get a small amount of traffic but make up the majority of traffic for a niche.

    There are correlations between long tail keywords and keyword length but that is not causation, a long keyword is not necessarily a long tail keyword. A long tail keyword is a keyword that gets relatively low traffic within a niche.

    Is it cleared up now?
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  • Profile picture of the author Magnet4Marketing
    Great debate, so after all that it's the long tail that matters most, thanks
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
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      Mebyon Kernow.
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      • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
        Originally Posted by Pete Walker View Post

        Mebyon Kernow.
        Lol - I had to look that up
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        • Profile picture of the author Karan Goel
          Originally Posted by Pete Walker View Post

          Mebyon Kernow.
          Originally Posted by rosetrees View Post

          Lol - I had to look that up
          Call me dumb, but I didn't get it. Mind enlightening me?
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          • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
            Originally Posted by Karan Goel View Post

            Call me dumb, but I didn't get it. Mind enlightening me?
            Magnet4Marketing's avatar thingy says he's in Cornwall (a county in England)

            Mebyon Kernow is a Cornish political party!
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          • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
            Banned
            It was a reply to the poster above me. His profile details gives his location as Cornwall, England. Which to me is a bit of an 'insult'. Hence the Mebyon Kernow* reference (Cornish language) which stands for *Sons of Cornwall.

            The Cornish are not English, just as the Welsh and the Scottish are not English. The English are Anglo Saxon. The Cornish in Cornwall are Celts - Celtic.

            And we're very proud of our heritage. Many of us hate being aligned with the English. It's a misconception calling Cornwall a county of England. We're not a county of England. By law we are a country in our own right with our own language, culture, stannary parliament, national anthem (see below), and flag.

            Queen Elizabeth ll is not our head of state either. Our head of 'state' is Prince Charles in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall. Cornwall as stated is not a county but officially a duchy, hence it's proper name by legal definition, the Duchy of Cornwall.

            It's bad enough having the English here. Nevermind having them state that this is a part of England. It's not a part of England. This is Cornwall. And we're completely independent from England.

            Further info on this issue can be found here...

            BBC - h2g2 - CORNWALL FACTS - 100 interesting facts about Kernow and the Cornish

            Gans cledha da yn dorn yu lel Gwyr, lowen an golon Yth aswon Myghtern Jamys fel Pandr'wrello Kernowyon Yu ordnys le ha prys ancow? Trelawny dos dh'y fin? Mes ugans myl an dus Kernow Gothvos an praga 'vyn.

            'Verow Trelawny bras? 'Verow Trelawny bras? Ottomma ugans myl Kernow A woffyth oll an cas.

            Yn meth an Capten, bew y wos, Gwas jolyf yn mysk cans- "Tour Loundres kyn fe Carrek Los Y'n dylerfsen dewhans!" Ny a dres Tamar, tyr dhe dyr By' ny vyth Havren let, Ha scoth ryp scoth, cowetha gwyr, Pyu orthyn-ny a set?

            'Verow Trelawny bras? 'Verow Trelawny bras? Ottomma ugans myl Kernow A woffyth oll an cas.

            Devedhys bys yn Fos Loundres Gwel dek dhyn, ny a gry- "Deugh mes, ownegyon oll, deugh mes! Gwell on agesough-why!" Trelawny yu avel felon Fast yn cargharow tyn, Mes ugans myl a Gernowyon Gothvos an ken a vyn.

            'Verow Trelawny bras? 'Verow Trelawny bras? Ottomma ugans myl Kernow A woffyth oll an cas
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            • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
              Originally Posted by Pete Walker View Post

              It's bad enough having the English here. Nevermind having them state that this is a part of England. It's not a part of England. This is Cornwall. And we're completely independent from England.
              Do you have a passport, otherwise we might not let you in?

              PS - do you actually speak Cornish? There could be a niche for Cornish language websites.
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  • Profile picture of the author ethanhunt0257
    Well, long tail keyword has less effect than short tail keywords and I always prefer short tail keywords for my work.
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  • Profile picture of the author Magim
    Generally speaking, long tail keywords are likely convert better than short tail keywords due to their specificity. You're targeting a much more specific (and likely much less served) niche, which gives you a competitive advantage provided you're giving your visitors what they're looking for..
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  • Profile picture of the author Pinky Painter
    i just attended a briefing from Google and one of the speakers shared an analysis. People tend to key-in 3-4 words when performing searching. Meaning long tail (but not too long) keywords is more likely to be searched.

    If your keyword is ball pen, expand your keyword to "gsoft ball pen", "school ball pen", "blue ink ball pen", and etc.
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