Short-Tail Keywords vs. Long-Tail Keywords


If you’ve ever created a search engine optimization campaign for your business, you know that in order to rank highly on search engine results pages, you need to choose keyword phrases to focus on. But the age-old question is, should they be short-tail keywords or long-tail keywords?

Short-tail keywords are usually just a couple words long and focus on a broad topic (like “dry cleaning”), while long-tail keywords consist of more words and focus on a more specific topic (like “dry cleaning in Philadelphia”). Which you choose to use depends on your business is and what kind of customers you want to target.

When to use long-tails

If you’re a new business, going after short-tail keyword phrases will probably be tough, since you don’t have much of a current presence. In this case, a more specific, long-tail keyword phrases would be a better choice. Another scenario that favors long-tail keywords is if you have a specific audience you’d like to reach. If your business is headquartered in Chicago and you want to target people in that area, “Chicago” would be a good word to use in your phrase. Or, if you’re trying to target a higher class of people, using the word “luxury” could help narrow down your audience.

When to use short-tails

Consider this example: When we search for “dry cleaning” on Google, we get about 242 million search results. However, when we search for “dry cleaning in Philadelphia,” we only get about 3.7 million search results. This means that more people are searching for short-tails and if you rank on the first page for one, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your website. That said, while short-tail keyword phrases may get more traffic, long-tail keyword phrases have been proven to lead to more conversions (according to a study by SEER Interactive). They also yield less competition (there are 238.3 million fewer results for “dry cleaning in Philadelphia” that you would have to compete with).

So overall, if you can find a good balance between short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Sprinkling in short-tails into your SEO strategy can help, however, you don’t want to focus solely on them solely.

At Prager, our search engine optimization consulting can help you determine exactly which keyword phrases are right for your business. Give us a call today.

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