Short Tail vs Long Tail Keywords

17 replies
  • SEO
  • |
So recently I've been doing a study on the effects of short tail and long tail keywords.

Here's what I focused on tracking.
  • Length of Visit
  • Entry Pages + Keywords Associated
  • Exit Pages
  • Heatmap (how far they scroll down in the content)
  • Conversions on Ads/Affiliates

It's been pretty interesting because I've been primarily tracking this with one of my larger websites that receives an average of about 1,600 unique visitors per day in the last 3 months.

I'm using the following for tracking.
  • StatCounter
  • Google Analytics
  • CrazyEgg
  • W3Counter
  • Clicky

All of my affiliate links/ads are above the fold and convert at roughly 1% - 4%.

But the reason for this study was to see why the site converted so rampantly.

As I dug deeper into the keyword searches and started tracking which keywords were the ones ultimately leading into conversions, I noticed a heavy increase in conversions with my long tail keywords (averaging nearly 6%) while my short tail keywords were barely even converting unless it was with Google AdSense ads.

Ultimately I came to this conclusion.

Long Tail Keywords
  • Stayed for a longer duration of time
  • Convert higher on affiliate links
  • Convert higher on cpa leads
  • Converted lower on PPC ads
  • Scrolled further down the page (using CrazyEgg to track)
  • Exited primarily on affiliate pages
  • Converted at roughly 6% (when average fluctuated from 1% to 4% overall)

Short Tail Keywords
  • Stayed for a shorter duration of time
  • Converted lower on affiliate links
  • Converted lower on CPA leads
  • Converted higher on PPC ads
  • Mainly just clicked around (using CrazyEgg to track)
  • Exited primarily on informational pages
  • Converted poorly, no specific % known, but they did click on PPC ads.

Now of course these results are subjected to my individual niche, but it was interesting to see.

I've always known that short tail keywords were more generic, meaning we have no clue what the individual searcher is looking for. But seeing this study through my own stats seemed pretty interesting.

I will state this though, most of my traffic did come from short tail keywords. I ranked pretty well in this niche for short tails, but knowing that the long tail keywords were converting higher and making more $ is going to make me focus on them more.
#keywords #long #short #tail
  • Profile picture of the author John Ac
    I didn't make a test focused on this but for what I see around my websites... long tail kw that are more easy to rank help to rank better for short kw, this if those long tail kw have the short kw in them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Says
    Absolutely John, that's apart of LSI, What Are LSI Keywords And Why Should You Be Using Them? | Converting Copy which is definitely effective and can give you so many more opportunities.
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  • Profile picture of the author contentwriting360
    Banned
    You nailed it, Justin.

    We have been recommending our clients to use long-tailed keywords and insert 3 to 5 LSI terms per article whenever they order. Long-tailed keywords always work (speaking from feedbacks of clients).
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    • Profile picture of the author Justin Says
      Originally Posted by contentwriting360 View Post

      You nailed it, Justin.

      We have been recommending our clients to use long-tailed keywords and insert 3 to 5 LSI terms per article whenever they order. Long-tailed keywords always work (speaking from feedbacks of clients).
      Yep LSI terms definitely help. Most of my converting traffic comes from the long tail LSI keywords that I'm using within an article. I also try to use them inside of H2, H3 tags, in images (if relative), and in the overall content. Also to make the page even more relevant, I sometimes add links to things that are associated with my content (even without a return link).
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  • Profile picture of the author It Is Me
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Good to see that!
    Which niche are you in?
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  • Profile picture of the author dome
    thats sounds cool
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    A Warrior always ready to L"earn"

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  • Profile picture of the author Justin Says
    Someone recently came at me trying to go after a keyword that receives more than 50,000 searches a month. The keyword was very generic and didn't really express exactly what someone was looking for.

    We narrowed down the keyword to something that received less than 500 searches a month, but because it was direct and to the point, the visitors were ready to decide on buying. Now even though my friend received most of his traffic from his bigger terms, most of his conversions came from the very few visitors he had through that measly keyword that only received 500 searches per month.
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  • Profile picture of the author gabibeowulf
    It may be worth testing if you build an email list out of the short tail. Short tail should provide more traffic, although they might not be so inclined to buy things or go one step beyond the page they entered. But if you pop up an optin box and then follow up with them ... now that's an interesting case study.

    My guess is that it will at least match the long tail in conversion rates.

    Gabriel
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeannie Crabtree
    Thanks for sharing that info.

    I find that true as well - the general big tail keywords visitor are just looking, reading, gathering information. The long tail keyword visitor are farther along in their process and are the ones that are making purchases.

    I recently got on first page for a major keyword on one of my sites, but it is not buying traffic. I will trade that for long tail traffic any day.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aira Bongco
    I always love experiments. Long tails for the win.

    But it's quite obvious really. People who are willing to type long keywords on Google are the people who are desperately searching for something. And if you have a product that fulfills that, then it is an instant sale.

    Good news is that there are gazillions of long tail terms to rank for. No excuses for not making money.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeWike
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Justin Says
      Originally Posted by MikeWike View Post

      It's kind a logical as well. If ppl are using long keyword to search for something then they are more targeted. For example if the keyword is "DJ software" - it gets a lot of searches, but if the keyword is "Best DJ Software To Purchase", then it has very minimum searches but conversion rate is XXXXX times better.
      Yep.

      Getting people down to the buying phase is a huge.

      I don't really care if someone wants to buy a steamer.

      But if they want the Black and Decker Vegetable Steamer, I'm golden.
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      My name is Justin Lewis, with my Knoxville SEO company, Business Optimizer, I've been in business for 10 years online with multiple six figure years, here are the tools that have helped me the most: Increase your reviews with this free Review Handout

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  • Profile picture of the author GapConsulting
    Thank you Justin Lewis, Nice info!
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  • Profile picture of the author nykotai
    Just starting in PPC this is some great information.
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  • Profile picture of the author CyborgX
    Longtail keywords are less-competitive, so you get get good ranking easily. And longtail keywords also bring you more visitors from target market, it will raise converting rate.
    However, short tail keywords can bring larger basic number of visitors, more visitors means more opportunities, and if your website has some short tail keywords in certain market get good ranking, you'll get reputation, and for e-marketing, good reputation is priceless.
    In a word, if got enough time and resources, short tail keywords will be more beneficial, if not, find those low competition long tail keywords will be a good choice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Make Money Ninja
    Very good common sense observations. Helpful to some no doubt.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi Justin,

      After reading your post I am convinced that you may not know the actual definition of "short tail" and "long tail" keywords.

      The term "long tail keyword" refers to the keywords that generate less individual traffic than the "short head" keywords which generate the most traffic. They are only considered "long tail" keywords if there are a large number of relatively low volume individual keywords generating traffic to your website. Thus represented as a long tail in a power law graph of your keywords. The only time you have short tail keywords is when you have relatively few individual keywords generating traffic, thus a short tail.

      Under most circumstances you generally will not see different conversion rates of long tail verses short tail, as they are both part of the tail and the tail is either short, or long, but not both, therefore you cannot compare short tail to long tail keywords for the same website. A website power law graph has either a long tail or a short tail, but never both simultaneously.

      It sounds like you may be referring to keyword phrase "word count", which has absolutely nothing to do with whether a keyword is a long tail keyword or a short head keyword. Longer phases may often have lower traffic and as such appear in the long tail group, but there will often be short keyword phrases in the long tail, and sometimes long phrases in the short head.

      If you dig a little deeper into your statistics you will likely find as many keywords in the long tail that convert poorly as you do that convert well. The key to success with long tail keywords is in recognizing why some keywords perform better than others and targeting many of the better performing keywords to build up your long tail traffic. A well executed strategy will garner substantially more traffic and more business from the long tail than you might earn from the short head keywords.
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      • Profile picture of the author lhkorn99
        Are you using any paid tools for long tail keywords, or primarily using google suggest and google keyword tool?
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