• Raj Shah

    Even though it’s an avg, I’m pretty surprised that long tail CR was ~4% higher than short tail. Thought it’d be more, and overall somewhere in the 10-25% range. Were you able to learn anything about conversion volumes? And whether short tail or long tail drove more orders?

  • Stephen peron

    Its seems to me from your study that even though the short tail does have a lower conversion rate the amount of traffic outweighs the higher conversion rate and lower traffic of the long tail producing more leads from the short tail.

    It would be interesting to see this data ran through GA multi channel attribution.

  • Dan S

    I agree with Stephen, and, its not like this is a mutually exclusive situation. You can target both long tail and short tail KWs on the same site with the proper strategy.

  • Tamra Hamblin

    How do you easily separate the long tail from the head terms?

  • wilreynolds

    Oh definitely Stephen, what I think happens though (from my experience) is that people get so rabid about the head terms, that it takes much more convincing to get most clients on board with creating content to hit the long tail. Its always easy to say yeah we’re gonna go after auto insurance and get a client jazzed, but targeting the 50 keywords that get more search volume than the 1 ego term is much harder to get buy on.

  • wilreynolds

    See my comment to Stephen below, I agree with both of you!

  • Allie_OBrien

    @twitter-603773782:disqus The
    conversion rates differed from all clients, some sites had the option to
    purchase online and some didn’t. I think I might try to dive in deeper
    and test the clients where conversions are actually ordering/purchasing and see
    what kind of results come from that. I would guess that’s when the long
    tail CR would be a lot higher.

    @google-01d5d69b557ada3eb127a875f0efdb02:disqus @disqus_jLE2iX9Ny1:disqus I
    couldn’t agree more. You definitely need a mix of the two to have a
    successful strategy. I think the graphs do a good job of showing that the
    AIDA is correct, the broader terms are more for researching (more traffic and
    less bounce rate) than when customers know what they want and use specific long
    tail keywords to buy or purchase.

    @facebook-577668386:disqus I
    manually went through and highlighted the long tail keywords. Then you
    can Custom Sort with Cell Color to make them all at the top or bottom of the
    list. If you find an easier way, I’d love to hear it!

  • wilreynolds

    ummm yeah @RachaelGerson knows how :)

  • Stephen peron

    From my experience the client would then come back and say well lets just go after what brings the most leads which happens to be the head terms. That always leads to a fun conversation! I agree that there needs to be a hybrid approach so you can still provide value to client with the long tail terms as you build up the more difficult short tailed terms.

    Now if we look at this data from GA Multi Channel I bet you will find that most short tail terms show up as first interaction and long tail as last interaction. Which then still shows the importance of short tails role in conversion and hell maybe even know brand exposure.

    I always wonder if our industry promotes the long tail so much cause the short tail is almost always more challenging (Be it from keyword competition, big brand dominance, or the ever so shrinking SERP page.)

  • Allie_OBrien

    Here’s an article that goes over how to count the words in a cell, If your keyword is in A1, put the formula in A2. You can then drag it down the column to all the keywords in your list. Before you are able to sort them, you have to copy and paste values only. You can then sort the values from highest to lowest and see the long tail keywords on top. Hope this helps!

  • wilreynolds

    OOOOH Great point, I think for a while a LOT of people focus on the short tail b/c its attainable and run away from the long tail b/c its hard. Really our conversations should be about making you money, right? Of course the head / tail combo is multi touch, which makes analysis harder than ever.

    In the last year I’ve gone after my fair share of 1 Million+ searches / month (phrase) keywords when it makes sense. I find the companies that start with only thinking about “10″ keywords are to be avoided, long tail or short tail matters a lot less when I am making you a positive ROI, ya know?

  • Steve Peron

    Your right ROI is king and every client’s / industries “sweet spot tail” is different. When that tail is unknown maybe you do a limited paid search campaign to find the client “sweet spot tail” first. If you try to go for both over 3 to 6 months you might not see the results fast enough and we all know client’s have finite amount of patients no matter what you say. But hell that test might just be too damn expensive.

    I guess just being the industry for so long I get annoyed when I hear people saying cliches like “The money is in the long tail” when in fact it might not be.

    Like I said before seeing this study done at the GA multi channel level would be eye opening.

    PS good conversation!

  • Cheri Copeland

    I’ve never heard of Ubersuggest and was eager to play with it, definitely not impressed with it…guess that’s why it’s free!


    using wide range of long tail keywords will help to diversify the anchor texts and its eassy to rank them fast and get relevant traffic.So if you are headed for long tail then prefer a big list of relevant keywords with decent traffic and competition.

  • Alex Perini

    Great post, Allison! I think though that according to your post, the average conversion rate of long tail keywords was 83% higher than that of short tail keywords, not just 4.15% higher. If the long tail conversion rate was 9.15% and the short tail was 5% (according to the chart above), take the percentage change, not the difference… so it’s (9.15% – 5%) / 5%, which is 83%. A conversion rate 83% higher for long tail keywords than short tail keywords just makes your case even better! :)

  • wilreynolds

    Ubersuggest is amazing, what did you struggle with using it?

  • Allie_OBrien

    Thanks for this Alex!

  • Jon

    Thanks for sharing this data, always good to see real world info instead of guesswork and tired cliches. However the length of the phrase does not technically mean its in the long tail…

    [azrqd] is a 5short 5 character word that is long tail.

  • Jon Raney

    Perhaps this is a different discussion but, what do you do about “(not provided)” GA info when you are looking at your top traffic keywords in your reports? That data is growing by leaps and bounds in the GA data. Would you assume it’s the aggregate of lots of different singular less relevant search terms or are there hidden top terms within that rivaling the known top terms from the report (i.e. “provided”)?

  • Ecommerce Web Development

    Interesting viewpoint, which adds weight to Google’s often heavily-critisized ‘broad matching’ from a paid search perspective.

  • James Tobin

    Isn’t this study flawed? You can’t just put all the (not provided) data into the “short tail” bucket. (not provided) may contain all kinds of keywords, both long and short keywords.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but you wrote:

    “Short tail keywords (including not provided) got 11 times more traffic than the long tail keywords.”

    What you call “short tail” is just a unknown mix of long and short keywords. You can’t compare this unknown mix to the known long tail keywords.

    Also, as mentioned by another commenter, even if the data was correct, you calculated the differences wrong. The conversion rate is not just 4.15% higher, its much more (something like 80% higher).