Keywords may be classified as long and short tail (Exhibit 14.5).
Short tail keywords are phrases with only one or two words. They tend to be generic, often pertaining to the category as a whole, for instance “digital marketing”, “condo for rent”, “SEO”, “shampoo”, “marketing”, “marketing analytics”, “washing machines” etc. While these keywords can generate high traffic, conversion rates are likely to be low. Additionally, it can be challenging to secure a high rank on search result pages, especially for non-market leaders.
Long tail keywords are longer phrases that are more specific in nature. For example, “SEO — Long tail and short tail keywords”, “Condo for sale The Crest”, “Digital marketing workshop”, “anti-dandruff shampoo”, “marketing analytics for practitioners” and “front-loading low suds washing machines”.
They generate low, but better-targeted search volume that leads to relatively higher conversion rate. They also attract lesser competition. For example, in Exhibit 14.6, a prop-log.com webpage secures top search ranking for the long tail keywords that distinguish the site’s contents.
The number of keywords to target depends on the nature of your website, and its purpose.
To target large number of keywords, it is preferable to structure the site into multiple layers and pages, each page targeting a few keywords. This would normally also improve the navigation and readability of the site.
Choice of keywords must relate to the page’s role in context of the digital marketing funnel. To attract prospects, one should consider short tail, generic keywords, as well as some long tail phrases. On the other hand, it is better to use mainly long tail keywords for leads and customers.
Marketers should use short tail, category descriptive keywords to drive traffic to their home page, and long tailed keywords to direct customers to product pages where the likelihood of conversion is higher.
Less established companies should aim for long tail keywords that better describe the unique features of their product offering, to score higher ranking on search engines. These companies are compelled to advertise for short tail keywords.
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