ULTIMATE GUIDE - Understanding Long tail and short tail keywords to rank higher on Google

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What are keywords?

Keywords are a single or group of words that summarize the content of a certain topic. Keywords are what a internet user will type into a search engine when inquiring about a certain topic. Put simply, if a website post is about 'advantages of eating healthy', then this phrase would be referred to throughout the post and thus, this would be the keyword. In terms of internet search engines, keywords form part of a websites meta data. Meta data is a snippet of information about the quality,content and characteristics of website data.

Why do you need to use keywords?

You need to utilize keywords for SEO purposes. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to getting FREE or organic traffic to your post from search engines like Google. When an internet user searches a phrase on Google, keywords directly or indirectly relating to that phrase are
gathered by Google 'spiders' (information bots that scan all websites information). The search results will then be displayed with all the web pages that match the phrase searched for. Remember, for a search engine to understand what your website post is actually about, you have to focus on that keyword. If you mention your keyword 'diet plan' only once in your post, then the search engine will not recognize your topic and cannot link the keyword accordingly to internet searches for it. Similarly, if you completely spam your website post with your keyword, search engine spiders
will register this and will mark your website as spam. The key is emphasizing your keyword throughout your post, without overdoing it. By understanding long tail and short tail keywords, you can rank higher on Google and receive free traffic to your website.

long tail keywords, short tail keywords
Short tail keywords, advantages

A short tail keyword (also referred to as short head) is only 1 or 2 words. It is a blanket term for a general topic. Examples of short tail keywords are: toothbrush, diet plan, online marketing, world cup. Short tail keywords are searched a lot more frequently by internet users because the phrase is broad and therefore it is relative to a vast number of topics and web pages. If you use short term keywords, you will likely get a higher volume of search traffic to your web page because more internet users will be searching for this broader term. Throughout your post, it is also easier to integrate a short tail keyword. You can talk about your short tail keyword 'diet plan' easily without disrupting the flow of your article.

Short tail keywords, disadvantages

A disadvantage of using short tail keywords is they are far more competative. Established websites will already be associated with specific short tail keywords by the search engines. Their posts on the keywords will appear in the first pages on Google because they already have a following, connection and association with the specific short tail keyword. Getting your post to rank higher on Google, ahead of the competition, will be extremely hard in the short term if the short tail keyword is competitive, which is often. If your short tail keyword is 'diet plan' then you will be joining about 1,140,000,000 Google search results. Your post will likely be hundreds of pages back in the search results, therefore, potential customers will never find your post. Also, any traffic you do get, wont be targeted to you, as it will be individuals each seeking different information about a broad topic.

Long tail keywords, advantages

When understanding long tail keywords, think of them as the opposite of short tail. Long tail keywords are usually 3-6 words but can be longer. They are a far more detailed way to describe exactly what your are posting about. Examples would be, 'advantages of Oral B toothbrush', 'diet plans for vegan children', 'online marketing for single mums', 'critical review of 2018 World Cup'. You would refer to these long tail keywords throughout your post. Google is able identify your long tail keywords and when an internet user searches for this long tail keyword, your post will rank higher on Google because it specifically relates to their search. Long tail keywords are better for a smaller company or individual that is trying to rank higher on Google. There is less competition, because less people will be posting about those specific phrases. Any traffic you get will also be more congruent to your post because it is more specialized. Also, if you are doing paid advertising of the post, like Google Addwords, the price will be cheaper to advertise the post because there is less competition.

Long tail keywords, disadvantages

Obviously, the more specific your long tail keyword is, the less amount of people who will be searching for it. This narrows your reach of potential viewers. Constantly referring to a long tail keyword throughout your post can also be challenging. Integrating 'vegan diet plan for children' every couple of paragraphs can disrupt the flow of the post and turn the reader off.

buying stage customer, information stage customer

Information stage Customers vs Buying Stage customers

Generally, short tail keywords are aimed at people in the information stage. The information stage refers to internet users who are simply seeking information on products and services. Their search is broad because they don't specifically know what they want. Long tail keywords are aimed at people in the buying stage. This means internet users who know what they want and are seeking a direct path to gain a specific answer or purchase a specific product.

Commercial Keywords

If you are in the e-commerce field and selling products and services online, use commercial keywords to target customers who are actively looking at buying products. Combine words like buy, purchase, offer, rent, order, sign up and discount with your keyword. Instead of using, 'diet plan' throughout your post, specifically refer to 'diet plan discount', 'purchase 2019 diet plan' or 'diet plan offer'. Instead of getting traffic that is seeking general information about diet plans and are still in the information stage, your traffic will be people who want to purchase diet plans because they are in the buying stage.

How do I Find short tail and long tail keywords to rank higher on Google?

Google actually has its own app for finding keywords, called Google Addwords. Log into Addwords and select Keyword planner in the Tools section. Type in your keyword. In this case I searched
for the short tail keyword, 'diet plan'. The results show you the average number of times people search for this keyword, what the competition is and the pricing to get it listed as an add.
The great way to use the tool is to discover all of the different key words associated with your niche that you could post about. The search results will always return a variety of long tail keywords that relate to the keyword searched.

Google Keyword Planner

In this case, we can see 'dash diet' down the bottom. This would be a great keyword to use. It has a high number of monthly searches and has low competition rate. Instead of posting about general content about 'diet plans', you could focus on posting specifically about a 'dash diet'. Consider creating multiple long tail keyword posts about 'advantages of going on a dash diet', 'how to start a dash diet', 'what is a dash diet', 'what foods to eat on a dash diet'. When you start to create this content around a specific niche, with low competition and high search rates, this is the key to rank higher on Google and become an authority in your area. When you have grown a presence and have high ranking content, then, it is far easier to rank higher on Google for similar content and appear throughout searches for relatable products.


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Are you getting ranked higher on Google with use of short tail or long tail keywords? Let me know in the comments.

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