In addition to keyword types, SEO keywords also come in several lengths that are classified by the number of words in the search term. Understanding these classifications can help you develop a better SEO strategy for your content and get the most effective use out of a keyword research tool.
There are three primary lengths for keywords that cover the entire range of search queries that are performed on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The following sections will explain everything you need to know about these keyword lengths.
Short-tail keywords are 1-2 words long, have the highest search volume, and have the most competition in the SERPs. They’re also not very targeted terms because the user search intent is often ambiguous. That makes it hard to write and optimize the perfect type of content to satisfy the user’s needs for these keyword lengths. Plus, red oceans are full of short-tail keywords.
Therefore, I typically don’t recommend you target short-tail keywords for your website content unless you can find a hidden gem with massive traffic potential or earnings in addition to super-low competition.
Examples of short-tail keywords include:
- Cat food
- Internet marketing
- Search engine optimization
Typically, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing serve a mixture of content to users in the SERPs for short-tail keywords because the algorithm doesn’t know exactly what people are looking for with these terms.
For example, a user searching for the word “dogs” may be trying to find the definition for the word, see pictures of these animals, get a list of popular dog breeds, or find local places to adopt a dog as a pet.
As you can see, short-tail keywords are very ambiguous which is why they can be hard to target with a particular article. It’s often not worth the time, money, or effort for a small to mid-size website publisher to compete in the SERPs for short-tail keywords. You can achieve a lot more—and faster—success by writing and optimizing content for medium and long-tail keywords.
Medium-tail keywords are 3-4 words long, have a moderate search volume, and average competition in the SERPs. Terms with this length are more targeted than short-tail keywords because the user search intent is easier to establish. This makes it possible to write and optimize articles for medium-tail keywords that can bring in a good amount of website traffic and earnings.
As you’re doing keyword research, you’ll find a mix of both red oceans and blue oceans that are full of medium-tail keywords.
Examples of medium-tail keywords include:
- Dogs that shed
- Cat food recipes
- Internet marketing strategies
- Search engine optimization for beginners
Long-tail keywords are 5 words or longer, have the lowest search volume, and least competition in the SERPs. They’re also the most highly targeted keywords for SEO because the user search intent is so specific. This makes it extremely easy to write and optimize content for long-tail keywords that fully satisfies the needs of the search.
As you’re doing your keyword research, you’ll find that long-tail keywords are almost always swimming in deep blue oceans. Because these terms are so long, it’s rare to see much competition for long-tail keywords, which makes them excellent choices for gaining easy website traffic.
Examples of long-tail keywords include:
- Dogs that are good with kids
- Cat food that is safe for allergies
- Internet marketing advantages and disadvantages
- On-page search engine optimization strategy
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