Long-Tail Vs. Short-Tail Keywords: Pros and Cons

Most businesses that are not well-versed in SEO still understand the basics of keywords. Most companies use broad keywords or short-tail keywords in their Internet marketing strategies. But many companies don’t understand that there are narrow keywords or long-tail keywords that can also be beneficial for SEO purposes. Understanding the benefits and disadvantages for both long-tail and short-tail keywords can help your company create better marketing strategies.

Short-Tail Keywords

What are short-tail keywords? These are the broad search terms that people use when they are researching information on the Internet. For example, they can start with a simple one word term such as beds. This one word, when entered into the search box, will bring up many different websites for the person to review.

Pros of Short-Tail Keywords

So what are the benefits of these type of keywords? The main benefit is that they appeal to a wide audience. Using these keywords can help drive large amounts of traffic to a company website. Another benefit of these types of keywords is that it is easy to determine which ones are relevant to your specific market or company offering. They’re also easy to write about. When creating web content, it is important to make sure that the keywords used flow with the rest of the text. Fitting the word “bed” into a sentence is pretty easy. Making sure your keywords fit your content isn’t difficult, but it will pay off multi-fold due to Google’s recent focus on quality and relevant content.

Cons of Short-Tail Keywords

If short-tail keywords appeal to a large audience, are easy to write about and help marketers determine which keywords are relevant for specific campaign-what could possibly be bad about them? One of the detriments of using these keywords is that you may attract the wrong type of traffic to your website. If your company sells dog beds you don’t want people who are looking for bunk beds to come to your website. You want people who are looking for dog beds, and maybe even people who are looking for beds for older dogs. The more words you used in a search term, the more specific the results will be.

Another con of these keywords is competition. These words are popular with web surfers, so businesses want to buy them. This can hurt your PPC campaigns and can also make it difficult for you to obtain a high search engine ranking. These type of keywords are also not beneficial for people who want to create niche campaigns.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are also known as narrow search terms. These are phrases that a web surfer will enter into a search box if they are looking for something specific. Going back to the “bed” example, a web surfer may enter the term “bunk beds for teenagers in New York City”. By entering this specific phrase, the web surfer will receive a list of websites that are relevant to people who are looking in New York City to buy bunk beds for teenagers-it doesn’t get much more targeted than that.

Pros of Long-Tail Keywords

If short-tail keywords are something that a person will enter when they’re just starting a search, long-tail keywords are phrases that people enter when they are closer to making a final decision. The increase in conversion rates helps to compensate for a decrease in web traffic.

Most companies do not use these keywords when they are creating their websites or when they are formulating AdWords campaigns. So an additional benefit to long-tail keywords is that your company won’t have a lot of competition. This helps you achieve a higher search engine ranking with less effort, decrease CPC for ad campaigns and increase the relevancy of your campaigns-which can positively impact your Quality Score.

Cons of Long-Tail Keywords

While these types of keywords can help create targeted traffic for your website and offer the advantage of less competition, there are a few disadvantages. One disadvantage is that it is often difficult to write effective copy. Think about trying to add the phrase “bunk beds for teenagers in New York City”. How many times do you think you would be able to add that phrase to a webpage and still make the overall content flow? These type of keywords can often be awkward and difficult to use in sales copy, and you don’t want to appear as though you’re keyword-stuffing and using awkward phrasing just to cram a keyword in an article.

Another disadvantage to using these type of keywords is that companies need to really understand their market and the terms that are used to reach the organization’s website. If the company focuses on the wrong keywords then they will not receive the right type of traffic.

Both types of keywords can be beneficial for a company’s Internet marketing strategy. Using short-tail keywords in the beginning of a sales funnel will help draw in traffic. Long-tail keywords can be used for ad copy towards the end of the sales funnel to help bring in leads that will convert to sales. Try using both types of keywords in your marketing strategy to help increase conversion rates and web traffic.

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