Long vs Short Tail Searches Part 2: Short Tail Search Results

Part Two of the Epic of the Keyword Tails: Short Tail Search Results – What They Are and How They Impact CTR.

Short tail searches involve very generalized, and often quite concise, groupings of words. In fact, short tail searches don’t typically exceed three words. These types of searches have their pros and cons just like anything else. There’s less emphasis on the first results and they are highly employed by mobile users as they are easier to type through on small devices. They offer the potential for more traffic, but can also lead to lower conversion rates due to increased competition.


In summary, short tail search results are those that appear after a web search containing one to three words. The focus on these results is to target a mass audience, with the smallest number of words possible. Example:

It makes sense then that the first reaction would be to utilize short tail keywords on your website. Obviously grabbing vast quantities of people to your site is a goal. However, this technique isn’t always the best option. You have to remember that your ultimate objective is to rank high on Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), and if you are using the same short tail keywords as all of your competitors across the globe, your ranking potential is seriously hindered.


The thing about people who utilize short tail keywords in their searches is that a large number of them are actually just perusing the marketplace; they are exploring their options. These short tail searchers are not truly sold on a product or service and therefore are not highly likely to actually buy anything at this stage in their journey. Most of these people won’t even go beyond the first few results that show up in their searches.

Specifically, if you rank at the 7th or 8th place in the results statistics show that you are getting 0% CTR. That’s staggering information. In truth, even the 2nd place contestant is getting 13.27% less CTR than the company in 1st place. These statistics reveal the true nature of the short tail keyword user.

These people are window shoppers just checking things out.


So what do you do to ensure that click-throughs happen for you? Well, that’s pretty simple: you mix it up. Yes, short tail keywords can provide you with much needed traffic (if your SERPs are good). They can expose future buyers to your brand. However, they are not the end all be all to your marketing endeavors. You absolutely must employ long tail keywords as well.

Long tail keywords ensure that those arriving at your site are actually seeking out what you have to offer. They also enable your site to rank higher by eliminating the needless competition. Specificity can definitely be your friend when it comes to choosing which long tail keywords work best for you. Truthfully though, long tail keywords can push the limits by being too specific or just plain funny sounding in the midst of your site’s text. Be careful how you choose your words.

The beauty in mixing it up is that you don’t have to stick to one absolute. You can track your stats and see which keywords are working best for you and then adjust your marketing strategies to meet the demands placed on you by your clientele. Flexibility in business is certainly a key to success.

Just to sum things up for you, the length of the phrase in the search query correlates with the customer’s goals. Those who search specifics are ready to buy specifics (generally). Long tail keywords are essential to eCommerce success. Throw in a few short tail keywords and compare your traffic rates. Do what works best for you, as there’s never an absolute to these things.