When it comes to your content marketing strategy keyword research plays a vital role. Knowing what users are typing in the search bar helps you create content they are actively looking for.
In a previous post, we had a look at the three main types of keywords from a marketing and SEO perspective. Today we will learn about the main differences between short-tail and long-tail keywords.
What is a Keyword?
In the digital world, the work keyword does not imply the use of one single word. It refers to any search query of one or more words that a user types in the search engine bar.
Although apparently they are similar, in the context of SEO short-tail and long-tail keywords have totally different qualities. Let’s have a look at the key differences and better understand how you can use them to your advantage.
Short vs Long Tail Keywords Key Differences
For the purpose of this comparison let’s use one short-tail example vs one long-tail example:
– “digital marketing“
– “digital marketing on a small budget“
- For the short-tail keyword the intent is not clear. Does the user want to learn marketing, or to buy marketing services? As for the long-tail keyword, it is more specific in intent.
- In terms of SEO, short tail keywords are generally harder to rank. In google search results we have almost 300 million results for “digital marketing”. For the term “digital marketing on a small budget” there are 18,800 results, therefore long-tail keywords are easier to rank.
- In terms of conversion rates for PPC, but also for organic SEO, the specific intent of LTK will deliver higher conversion rates. For the STK the intent is not clear, therefore the conversion rate is lower.
- Since STK cover only 30% of all search traffic they are easier to research. Covering 70% of all search traffic, the LTK pool is more crowded and therefore harder to research.
- Although the short-tail keywords have a higher search volume individually, collectively they have a lower search volume. Whilst one single long-tail keyword has lower search volume, collectively all LTK have higher search volume.
- Short tail KWs require you to produce less content compared to the large volume of all LTK that will require more content to reach your audiences.
Finding Low Competition Keywords
If you are looking to create content around keywords in your niche, it’s best to create content around low competition keywords. Although these are usually keywords that collectively do not have a high search volume, the organic traffic will boost your site’s authority.
Having a website with organic growth will open the doors for you to tackle high volume and high competition keywords.
To find low competition keywords you can use this simple trick. If for example you type in the keyword “online digital marketing courses UK” Google will display 7,690 total results, but if you type it without quotation marks it finds over 897,000,000 results.
Searching a keyword wrapped around double quotation marks tells google to show all web pages that contain the exact phrase you typed in.
In our case, the 7,690 results are a broad estimation of web pages that are trying to rank for that exact keyword you typed in (using the double quotation marks – ” “). To stay on the safe side try to rank for keywords that are below 20,000 search results.
To take this one step further install this free Moz bar extension for Chrome. The addon will display the domain and page authority of each page straight in the search results page.
If the first 3-5 search results are taken by high authoritative sites with DA and PA above 40-50, then you might have a hard time outranking these. To increase your chances of ranking on the first 5 results in Google go for keywords of which first web results have a DA and PA below 30.
Keyword Research Tools
Knowing what people are searching for online is a great asset. But to better pinpoint the exact queries a user types you have to use keyword research tools.
Keyword research will help you better understand the broader picture of the needs and wants behind the individual search queries.
There are all types of keyword tools out there. The more advanced ones are paid, whilst the most basic ones are free. I will focus here on the free keyword tools. But I will split them into advanced and basic keyword tools.
Free Advanced Keyword Tools
These are keywords tools that help guide your efforts and that show data you would normally not be able to extract manually.
The go-to keyword tool for many marketers, the GKP provides basic but valuable insights straight from the source (Google). Average monthly searches, competition, suggested bid are the primary data points.
Currently in Beta mode, the Refine Keywords feature seems a nice addition. With a single click of a button, you can refine the suggested keywords such as filtering out those keywords that contain brand names.
Again from Google, Trends extends your knowledge on specific keywords and topics. In a few clicks it shows data such as trendiest related queries to your primary keyword, and their interest based on geographical location.
It also matches your keyword with a topic which you can further dig into and find even more topic-related keywords.
Ubbersuggest stands out by showing a lot more than just basic data search volume. It also offers data such as keyword difficulty for organic and paid results too.
The content ideas feature shows a quick view of the first google results that contain your KW in the title tag.
On top of that, it offers another cool piece of data. You have a quick view of the number of clicks on paid results vs organic results and a representation of the age ranges of people that search for your keyword.
Although popular for its paid capabilities, the free version does nothing more than other tools except one thing. On top of the Google data for search volume, keyword competition, and estimated CPC, you also get that data for bing search engine as well.
Basic Keyword Tools
These are nitty-gritty tools that help you get some quick insights. You can usually perform these tasks manually, but the tools just do it faster than you can.
This extension scans webpages and displays a quick page-summary of common words and phrases. The main utility of this is for finding long-tail keywords that your competitor might be using in their content.
This simple tool it’s nothing advanced but if you are researching a completely unfamiliar topic, then this is a good place to start.
The tool is meant for local businesses and doesn’t extract any online search volume data, but it rather works as a template. The selected predefined service name works as a keyword and based on the location you enter generates a list of keywords that might possibly be an actual search query in that location.
One way of researching for new keyword ideas is by typing your keyword in the search bar and taking note of the autocomplete suggestions.
We usually do this in the Google search bar only, but Soovle does a lot more than that. It extracts in real-time the autocomplete suggestions from all popular search engines in one screen view: Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, Youtube, Answers.com, Wikipedia.
Maybe the most basic tools here, Keyword In simply combines multiple single words into a mashup of longer phrases.
You type up to four words and the tool quickly generates all the possible combinations.
Keyword research will help you find the right keywords to use in your marketing efforts and which one to stay away from. If you are starting to create content on your blog, it’s a good idea to focus on LTK with low competition. When a new site tries to rank for highly competitive keywords, it’s almost impossible to outrank the big old sites.
If you feel like writing for specific keywords might slow your flow and creativity, then just write using your own words. Google is smart enough to understand what your content is about even when the exact keyword is not within the article.
You can also fetch in the ranking keyword within the article on the final draft. But be aware – wherever you insert your main keyword it should naturally fit in within the text around it. The keyword should aid in making the point you are trying to make it and not look spammy or forced.