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    Question Thoughts about Long-Tail Keywords


    This post is basically a rant.
    I'm sick of seeing stuff like "long-tail keywords are phrases consisting of n words". e.g.:


    A lot of experts and "gurus" keep repeating this nonsense. All those graphs where 1 word is a head, 3 words is a body and 5 words is a long-tail.
    It's all just a bunch of c*ap.

    Here's why:
    1. Key phrases consisting of 3 words are the most popular, followed by 4 word phrases (in US).

    This data is from Serpstat keyword research tool. It shows number of keywords with different phrase lengths (number is directly connected to search volume bc keywords are parsed to serpstat database when someone is using them in search) in different regions of google.
    Similar data from Amazon

    2. 1-word keywords are less popular then phrases consisting of 4, 5 and for some regions 6 words.
    So, shorter keyword doesn't equal higher search volume. When was the last time you typed a word "shoes" in google?
    3. 1-word keywords are purposeless (except for branded queries). Who in his right mind is going to bid on a 1-word keyword like "phone".
    So, shorter keyword doesn't equal higher competition.

    low search volume and low competition, sounds more like a long-tail keyword.
    Some of short keywords are "head" and some are "tail", some of these are trash. Trash keywords are keywords with low search volume, low competition and low relevance.
    Basically keywords that almost no one wants to use.

    What I'm trying to say, is keyword length has nothing to do with it's properties, some short/long/medium keywords are trash some are head, same applies to long keywords, especially if you consider a market or industry to which keywords relate.

    What are your thoughts? How important is the length of a phrase?
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    Originally Posted by knuckles
    3. 1-word keywords are purposeless (except for branded queries). Who in his right mind is going to bid on a 1-word keyword like "phone".
    So, shorter keyword doesn't equal higher competition.

    What are your thoughts? How important is the length of a phrase?
    I would disagree with number 3. Some of our highest search queries are a single keyword that aren't brand keywords. (we're a bit of a strange site, so there's nothing new there)

    One of our best performing pages has a title/targeted keyword of four words.

    I think each industry is different so keyword length would vary.
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    You're right. I got carried away there. I addressed the industry factor later and forgot to rethink #3.
    Obviously for websites like wikipedia or youtube and websites with a specific niche short keywords are very important. Then there are those who dominate the market, I assume nike.com considers "shoes" a part of the head.

    I also think that within the industry, websites of a different size should view keywords differently. Again, nike.com may view "shoes" as head, while for a new website selling shoes in small city that keyword is irrelevant, so it goes in the trash, at least that's how I see it.
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    Yes, it depends on, what are you purpose and what kind of traffic are looking for.

    Generic keywords generate huge traffic but are poor when it comes to conversion for business sites.

    Because generic keywords are searched at the initial stage of the conversion process.

    Long term is good for generating specific traffic that will give you relevant visitors.

    For example, our core keyword is shoes. Just a rocky estimate on the conversational keyword could be:

    1. Nike Shoes - Phase I
    Purpose - To verify out the websites that are ranking in Google for the term and the variety of Shoe information is available.
    Explored by - This term can be used by Internet Marketers, Website Owners, Researchers & a few potential buyers.
    Traffic - Huge
    Transaction Rate - Very Low

    2. Buy Nike Shoes - Phase II
    Purpose – The visitor is looking for Nike Shoes
    Explored by - Internet Marketers, Website Owners, Potential Buyers
    Traffic - average
    Transaction Rate - average

    3. Buy Nike Shoes Onlne - Phase III
    Purpose - To search for buying Nike Shoes
    Explored by - Potential Customers and maybe a several Internet Marketers
    Traffic - Low
    Transaction Rate - Great

    4. Buy affordable Nike Shoes Onlne
    Intention - To search only for buying Nike Shoes
    Searched by - Potential Buyers
    Traffic - Very Low
    Transaction Rate - Huge

    But the question is why we should target the long keywords that have a low search volume.... the reason is that these terms have a very low search volume but there can be 2k such transactional keywords that can be used to reach our website a month and that means 2k additional visitors a month and a lot more conversions.

    These keywords are called the long tails and have the maximum potential to generate specific visitors.
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    Hi Knuckles,
    Important issues you raise.

    Back when there were only 50 million pages on the web, most search queries were only 2 words long. Now that G has indexed 130 trillion docs, search query lengths have been forced to expand to cull out the unwanted dross.

    It's been a while since I've seen surveys of search query length, numbers of searches made and even longer since someone attempted to assess for how many keywords a page can rank top 10.

    Here are two surveys by SEO tools vendor, Ahref conducted in 2017 on these issues.

    1. Mar 2017: What we learned about “Long Tail” by analyzing 1.4 Billion keywords
    • Keywords length: 4 words or longer = 64.5% of searches
    • 93% of search queries are used less than 19 times per month
    • 96.54% of search queries are used less than 50 times per month


    2. May 2017: How many keywords can you rank for with one page?
    (Ahrefs’ study of 3M searches)

    • "...the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top 10 for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords"

    These studies suggest why targeting the widest range of relevant search queries is likely to be the most cost-effective SEO strategy.

    What's not discussed is that generally it is easier to rank page 1 for longer search queries vs short ones.

    Another part of the equation is the conversion rates attained by short keyword queries vs. long. My understanding is that conversion rates escalate with longer search queries.

    Anyone seen any new studies on this aspect of long vs. short keyword searches?
    Last edited by JohnAimit; Jul 20th, 2017 at 10:34 PM.
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    The term long tail has absolutely nothing to do with how many keywords there are in the query. Some of my best long tails are 2 words.
    Last edited by KernelPanic; Jul 24th, 2017 at 09:38 AM.
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    Originally Posted by KernelPanic
    The term long tail has absolutely nothing to do with how many keywords there are in the query. Some of my best long tails are 2 words.
    So how do you define "long tail"?

    I'm still waiting for you to confirms which of many "dwell time" definitions you support in another SEO discussion. (Want me to post a link to it or do you prefer to let your comments die?)

    We will get nowhere without definitions in these discussions.
    Last edited by JohnAimit; Jul 26th, 2017 at 05:09 AM.
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    So how do you define "long tail"
    sigh facepalm

    Yikes... dude... It's not how I define it, it's what it is. It's the number of clicks that occur down the statistical tail. It has nothing to do with the length of the key phrase.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail
    Please also learn about the Pareto Principal
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_distribution
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

    Knowing this stuff is the difference between putting keywords on a page and being an Online Marketing Professional.
    Last edited by KernelPanic; Jul 28th, 2017 at 05:56 AM.
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    KernelPanic, stop being so hard on the guy. lol. I agree with you, but it's pretty understood that most long tail keywords tend to be 3 or more keyword phrases. The demand curve is based on the # of searches, and 1-2 word phrases predominantly have the most volume. As you move down the statistical tail, you tend to find longer phrases.

    In my industry for example, it would look like this:
    Mold - 50K
    Mold Removal - 18K
    Mold Remediation - 14K
    How to Removal Mold - 2.4K
    mold removal companies near me - 880
    mold removal [city name] - 0-500
    how to remove black mold from the shower - 100
    removing mold stains from wood - 10

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    Originally Posted by cbmorales04
    KernelPanic, stop being so hard on the guy. lol. I agree with you, but it's pretty understood that most long tail keywords tend to be 3 or more keyword phrases. The demand curve is based on the # of searches, and 1-2 word phrases predominantly have the most volume. As you move down the statistical tail, you tend to find longer phrases.

    In my industry for example, it would look like this:
    Mold - 50K
    Mold Removal - 18K
    Mold Remediation - 14K
    How to Removal Mold - 2.4K
    mold removal companies near me - 880
    mold removal [city name] - 0-500
    how to remove black mold from the shower - 100
    removing mold stains from wood - 10

    my highest converting long tail is "paid search"
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    Just looked it up. I'm surprised its volume is only 1.3K. Crazy. Still, you know most long-tail tend to be longer phrases - and voice search is driving that up even more. ;)
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    Originally Posted by cbmorales04
    Just looked it up. I'm surprised its volume is only 1.3K. Crazy. Still, you know most long-tail tend to be longer phrases - and voice search is driving that up even more. ;)
    It's not the definition that I am hung up on, it's the fact that if you think a long tail is just a bunch of keywords then you have no idea what the statistical tail is. If you don't know what the statistical tail is then you have no business offering advice on it as it could harm someone's business.

    Comments on this post

    • Digital Marketeer agrees : Fair enough.
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    The problem for many SEOs with limited history and/or a focus on a handful of search queries is that they are unlikely to have seen extensive data for a very broadly optimised site before the search query data was hidden by Google.

    Analytics Reports: How many search queries generate search traffic?

    Example: An old client attracts 83% of referrals via generic search.

    Current Gooogle Analytics Search Query Report only records 34% of all query traffic.

    It is also limited to reporting click throughs for 70 different queries.

    Based on reports from before G started hiding the data, the missing 66% of search traffic was probably generated by 500+ unique search queries.

    Again based on historical data, I'd estimate that perhaps 15%-20% of search traffic came from search queries that had not been used in the previous month.

    Analytics has always grossly under-reported unique search query data.

    If folk are using Analytics as their Gospel, I'm afraid they are in a mythical place.


    Before folk try to interpret the SEO runes, they may want to consider some of the findings in this recent search behaviour study:


    Some answers...

    • What percent of Google searches result in a click? Ans: 34% resulted in no clicks.
    • What percent of queries on Google result in the searcher changing their search terms without clicking any results? Ans: 18% change search query. (Consider these two facts! Some 52% of all searches may be outside your expectations and interpretations of events!)
    • "The long tail is still very long indeed, with a huge amount of search volume taking place in keywords outside the top 10 million most-searched-for queries. In fact, almost 25% of all search volume happens outside the top 100 million keywords!"

    What is not being considered in this discussion is the huge strategic advantage at small cost of targeting long tailed search queries. Thems targeting the head of the search query are likely constantly pounding out their time trying to generate more and more external links of questionable and transient value. Thems targeting the long tail are probably doing on-page stuff that keeps accumulating for their clients.

    The more words in a search query, the more options available to an SEO about which ones to target for ranking points in order to out maneuvre the competition.
    Last edited by JohnAimit; Aug 28th, 2017 at 04:31 AM.

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