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August 10, 2013

Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords

Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords

Guest Blog by David Markovich

Businesses that evaluate keywords need to understand the difference between long tail and head keywords. The distinction is as important and once understood actually shocking and somewhat counterintuitive.

Head keywords are the broader categories like “routers” or as Aaron Wall, author of the SEO Book, famously uses as an example, “Baseball Cards”.

When compared with long tail keywords, head keywords generally have a significantly larger search volume and the query much broader. For example:

· General: I sell routers
· Specific: I sell Netgear routers; and even more
· Highly specific: I sell dual band routers from Netgear
· Most specific: I sell the Netgear N300 Dual Band Router

The search volume for “router” in general is very high: approximately 16,600,000 people type router into Google each month. However, the search volume for a “netgear router” is much lower. Only 672,000 people search for netgear routers in Google using that search query. And, as expected, only 22,200 people per month search for a “netgear dual band router”. At the extreme end of the long tail, only around 320 people per month search for the “netgear n300 dual band router”.

It may be the case that fewer people search for each long tail keyword, but the sum of the parts actually turns out to be greater than the whole. Most shocking is that looking at this on a chart, if you add up the total number of searches for long tail keywords, the 80/20 rule applies perfectly: the 80% of the search volume that is less likely to occur on any given day -- like searches for the Netgear N300 Dual Band Router -- are more important to driving traffic and sales than the 20% of of search volume for head or more broad keywords!

Let’s look at this from another angle: the odds of someone purchasing a netgear router after searching broadly for routers is much lower than someone who is searching specifically for the netgear n300 dual band router. Bring this back to the discussion of long tail versus head keywords, the long tail keywords like the Netgear N300 Dual Band Router convert at a significantly higher rate than head keywords like router. The long tail searcher knows what they are looking for and is further down the conversion funnel. This is an important lesson and probably the best advice I could give as an online consultant in understanding search.

See Chart for detailed example

Attila Sary