If you haven’t already read our guide on choosing the right keywords for your business, please take the time to do so now because this guide on short tail keywords will make much more sense if you do.
Short tail keywords – also known as “head” terms - are basically keyword phrases that contain very few words (usually just one or two). Their length makes them less specific than longer keyword phrases (long tail keywords).
A basic example of a short tail keyword is “plumbing”. It’s a very generic term and using it as a search phrase on a search engine will return millions of results (more than 435 million to be precise, at time of writing). For comparison, a similar long tail keyword, “plumbing services in Derby”, returns 1.43 million results (at time of writing).
As you can see, short tail keywords are a lot more competitive, which is why if you look to target them through pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, they will cost you significantly more per click.
The same goes for search engine optimisation too, but instead of paying more per click you’ll simply find you don’t get much success because of all the competition to rank for that particular short tail keyword.
Big rewards, big competition, low conversion rates with short tail keywords
While the rewards can be big for companies that manage to rank high for short tail keywords, the extreme competition and low conversion rates often makes them a non-starter for most businesses.
For example, if you are a plumber who operates in the Leicester area, you’re more likely to get new business from people searching for terms like “plumber in Leicester” or “plumbing companies in Leicester” (long tail) than people searching for just “plumbing” or “plumber” (short tail).
In the last example, the people searching using the long tail keywords are more likely to be seeking plumbers in their local area. The short term keyword searchers, on the other hand, are more likely to be looking for information, rather than seeking local businesses to help them with a project or problem.
As a tradesperson, short tail keywords are probably not the best type to target. The high levels of competition and low conversion rates vs. long tail keywords makes them a less desirable option for you.
It’s definitely worth checking out our guide on long tail keywords. You’ll learn about some of their benefits and see why they are probably a better choice for your business.