Long-tail Versus Short-Tail Keywords: Why You Need Both - Martindale-Avvo

Long-tail Versus Short-Tail Keywords: Why You Need Both

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If you have ever spent any time trying to make sure that your law firm is found in Google’s search engine, you are likely familiar with the term “keywords”. Keywords are the words that people enter into Google that are essential for returning relevant results for their search. There are two main types of keywords that the experienced web-marketer should be familiar with: short-tail and long-tail.

What is the difference?

The number of keywords and their specific descriptiveness determine whether it is a short-tail or long-tail phrase. We’ll use the personal injury practice area as our example for the purposes of this post.

Examples of short-tail keywords:

  • Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Sacramento Car Accident Attorney
  • Boston Elevator Accident Lawyer

These strings are very short and are very basic descriptions. You and your competitors most likely use exactly the same sets of short-tail keywords on your websites, which makes it increasingly hard to organically rank or be found for these terms.  

Examples of long-tail keywords:

  • I was hurt in an accident in Houston and need a lawyer
  • Do I need an attorney if I have a DUI in Sacramento?
  • Boston lawyer when someone is injured in an elevator accident

Content targeting long-tail keywords predict the searcher’s intent and tries to pinpoint the searcher’s need. In doing so, the content is targeting a smaller more specific audience. The searcher has a clear motive for a solution. These terms can yield less overall traffic to your site but they can be easier to rank for than short tail terms because the search phrase is more specific and fewer websites will be relevant to that phrase. Also, the pay-off of incorporating long-tail keywords within your website content may be greater because the prospect coming to your site is more qualified.

How can I test this myself for my firm?

Pretend to be a client and actually do a Google search with your key terms in mind. When doing this, you want to predict the intent of the searcher. You want to answer a question and you want to find the solution.

For attorneys, you want to get a client for a particular legal situation. Take a look at your competitors’ websites and analyze the search results.

When it comes to long-tail keywords, you will likely find that your competitor’s content has clearly been written to provide information and advice on a particular subject, like the accident keywords listed above.

Creating Content for Long-Tail Keywords

Attorneys always ask us “Do those exact words or terms need to be in my content for it to provide SEO value for long-term keywords?”

The answer is no. It’s no longer about having the exact keyword in your content. You definitely need to mention the short-tail keywords. Google infers the subject matter of long tail keywords by the words around them and then comes up with the search result. The more comprehensive your content is, the better to capture both long-tail and short-tail terms.

Create well-written content for your website that includes all of the relevant information that someone might be looking for if, say, they were hurt in an auto accident. By providing this information in a clear, concise, and thorough manner, Google will crawl that content and hopefully display that page when someone initiates a long-tail search.


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