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What is a Short Tail Keyword?

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Keywords are an essential part of search engine optimization but it is very important to know how to use them effectively. One of the responsibilities of the SEO specialist is to conduct comprehensive research to determine which relevant keywords they should use for web marketing campaigns. Once the keywords are revealed they will be used in a wide variety of marketing strategies including content, blogs, ads, titles, and other forms of marketing media. Keywords can be a critical part of obtaining a high ranking in the search engine result pages. Each SEO campaign must start with extensive keyword search along with analysis to identify the most relevant and effective keywords to be incorporated into the campaign. During this research, the SEO professional will find two types of keywords: short tail keywords and long tail keywords. Each of these plays a different role and can have a major impact on an SEO campaign.

What is a Short Tail keyword?

A short tail keyword is a one or two word phrase. Since this type of keyword is very short, it is more generic than a long tail keyword which can be very specific. The fact that it is so general makes it difficult for a site to rank for a short tail keyword because it is likely that it is widely used across the web. Google has a difficult time determining which pages should rank for such a generic term. A lot of times when a user begins a search for any type of product, information or service they will start with a short tail keyword. Examples might include: shoes, Yamaha, whiteboard, shirt or HD camcorder. These all contain either one or two words and in order to narrow the search down they will have to get much more specific in their search. The longer the keyword is the more specific a search is.

Short Tail Keywords and Conversions

Short tail keywords do not have as many conversions as long tail keywords since they are more generic. This is simply because when a user is looking for something that is generic they are very likely to continue searching until they find a result that is more specific. An example might be if someone starts out by searching for “motorcycle brands” they will keep on searching until they find a specific brand such as a 2011Kawasaki. Even if your site is loaded with great information about motorcycle brands, if the consumer is not looking for that information there will be no conversion since they will move on to the specific type of motorcycle.

Short Tail Keywords and SEO

Most SEO professionals agree that long tail keywords can help a site rank higher in the SERPs; but this does not take away from the effectiveness of short tail keywords at all. For many sites and SEO specialists some of the short tail keywords like “dentist” or “cosmetic surgery” are very important to the site and relevant to the business. To make them even more effective, they can be added to the location such as “NJ dentist.” Combining keywords with local or geo tags can be a very effective SEO strategy. But this does not meant that a location has to be added every single time the word “dentist” is used as a keyword.

Choosing Keywords

Choosing keywords that have too much competition or using ones that no one is looking for can both be disastrous. Either extreme can yield poor search results. It is important to strike a balance between the two. You really do not want to use a keyword that absolutely no one searches for; but it is also not beneficial to use one that millions search for on a daily basis. It is best to choose short tail keywords which bring the balance between these two extremes.

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