Size Does Matter: What You Need to Know About Short- and Long-Tail Keywords

Size Does Matter: What You Need to Know About Short- and Long-Tail Keywords

Size Does Matter: What You Need to Know About Short- and Long-Tail Keywords

keywordsSmall businesses flourish in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent statistics, 27.9 million of these companies dot the country. Tweet This New entrepreneurs appear on the scene every year who insist that their product or service will revolutionize their industry. However, new businesses have only a 50% chance at survival within their first five years.

Businesses fail for many reasons, but one of the most commonly cited explanations is that owners couldn’t get the word out about their business. Word-of-mouth advertising tactics are excellent ways to encourage local clientele, but if you need to extend your customers to people who don’t drive past your storefront every day, a word-of-mouth approach might lead to low sales and closed doors.

“But I have a website,” you say. Well, that’s a great first step. But you need to make sure your website reaches the people you want it to reach. Otherwise, they won’t even know your site exists, let alone buy something from it.

Keywords as Marketing Tools

You can add keywords to your content to ensure prospective clients become actual clients. Tweet This But how do you decide which keywords will launch your website and grab your audience’s attention? Well, the first thing you need to understand is the difference between short- and long-tail keywords.

You have a basic understanding simply by knowing their names: short-tail keywords contain only one or two words while long-tail keywords contain longer phrases. But let’s get a little bit more in depth for a better understanding.

Short Tails

Let’s say that you want to find a new restaurant in Chicago. A short-tail keyword like “Chicago restaurant” or “deep dish pizza,” will garner thousands, of results. That’s because nearly every restaurant in the Second City and its deep dish pizza dispensaries want those keywords. They know that when people Google material, most use just a few, obvious words to request information, and “Chicago restaurant” or “deep dish pizza” represent popular search terms for the area because they are so simple and direct.

However, as you know all too well, it’s easy to find popular keywords. The much more difficult task is to find a keyword that will rank your website higher on those search results. Since so many people search for them, short-tail keywords can represent a wildly competitive market. While you may use the most popular keywords, the hundreds of other websites that use the same keywords may drown you out.

Long Tails

On the other hand, long-tail keywords have a lower search volume because they add specificity. For example, “restaurant Chicago,” would shift to “affordable Chinese restaurant Chicago.” These additions do two things for you:

  1. Ensure that the people who search for your service want your specific service. People who search for general restaurants may want Italian fare, French cuisine, or Spanish tapas. With the long tail’s new information, people who crave Chinese food will find your restaurant more easily.
  2. Rank your website higher. Because you target a smaller market with the long-tail keyword, you face less competition. This makes your search results closer to the top of the search engine’s results—where more people will see it.

However, long-tail keywords do have drawbacks. In addition to the smaller pool of searchers, they can be too specific. Most people use as few words as possible as they search, so if you require too much from them, you may not get their online traffic.

Additionally, the longer the keyword, the more awkward it can sound when you use it in your content. Nothing is more important than your website’s quality content, so consider how the keyword will affect readability before you implement it.

Whether you choose a short- or long-tail keyword, you take a gamble. While more people search for short tail keywords, your site may get lost in the search result melee.

So, What Can You Do?

Think Outside the Box

Don’t just contemplate popular search terms. Instead, take a moment to think about your business. If you were a client, what would you search for? Are they searching for your services when they face an emergency? If you offer environmental clean-up services, you may want to use keywords such as “clean up gasoline spill” instead of “environmental company.”

Clients tend to use search terms that reflect how your business impacts them, not necessarily what your company is. Ask what they need from you, and the answer may be your best keyword.

Weave Your Keywords Seamlessly

As we mentioned in the Long Tail section, content is essential to your website. Place your keywords so they sound as natural as possible. If your online visitors can spot awkward keywords from a mile away, they might not continue reading.

Mix It Up

Remember that you don’t have to choose between long- and short-tail keywords. Use both. Track your statistics to see which keywords do the most work for you, and adjust your web strategy accordingly.

You may need an SEO specialist’s help to complete this task. When you speak with them, they can give you advice on the keywords will give you the best return on investment so your business can stay successful for years to come

Paige Thompson
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