Thursday, 15 September 2016 05:36

Why and How Short-Tail Keywords May be Dying

By  Patrick Moore

“Google, what are the best Italian restaurants near me?”

“Siri, where is the closest coffee shop?”

“Siri, find me a barber in New York City.”

What you’re looking at is the new face of search, and it’s coming at warp speed.

As it stands right now, voice search is growing faster than any other type of search out there. Today, 41% of U.S. adults use voice search every single day, and that number is increasing daily.

When you think about it, it’s not surprising that voice search has become so popular. As our lives get increasingly busy, voice search represents a simple, hands-free, accurate way to track down all of the things we need online – from a great cup of Joe to the answer to a pressing question.

The only potential downside of voice search is that it’s changed the way SEOs and online marketers do things behind the scenes.

Before voice search exploded to its current proportions, short-tail keyword research was enough to help companies rank well and appear for relevant queries.

As search terms get more complex, though, and voice search drives a shift toward more complex, conversational search queries, short-tail keyword research may be dying.

Read on to learn more.

The Difference Between Typed and Spoken Search

Do you type the way you talk? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no. As it turns out, this is one of the biggest things search engines have had to deal with in recent years.

Say, for example, you’re looking for a place to exercise. If you’re going to type a query into Google, it might look something like this:


If you were going to conduct a voice search for the same query, though, it’d likely look more like this:

Voice Search Screenshot

In addition to the fact that the search terms are different for these queries, the search results are, as well.

This just goes to show that voice search and short-tail keyword search are notcreated equal and the companies who want to rank in the dynamic and ever-changing environment of voice search will need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

How to Adjust to the Passing of Short-Tail Keywords

As voice search continues to gain prominence, the best thing marketers can do is stop relying so much on short-tail keywords.

While short-tail keywords used to be incredibly valuable for delivering targeted, relevant results to users, today’s search algorithms are much more focused on context, value, and semantics. This means that, as search engines have gotten smarter, they’ve begun to consider the intent behind a person’s search.

For example, if I ask Google where I can work out in Austin, it understands that, in addition to some listings for gyms, I probably also want a compare-and-contrast piece that helps me decide which workout classes are the best for me. If the writers of that article were just targeting short-tail keywords, they never would have ranked for my query.

By providing results that help to answer my questions rather than just showcase what’s available, Google and search engines like it are beginning to drift toward intent-based search, and away from short-tail keywords.

While this may feel scary if short-tail keywords have been a big part of your content strategy, these tips will help you adjust.

SEO, keywords, english

1. Create FAQ Pages

Since many voice searchers are looking for quick answers to questions, it’s smart for modern marketers to implement FAQ pages. For an example of a company that’s done this well, check out PetMD, which ranked as the top result for my simple query here:

PetMD Screenshot

FAQ pages are simple, but they’re also a great way to accommodate the trends of voice search and ensure better rankings for common questions.

2. Make Your Seed Keyword Phrases More Conversational

While many marketers familiar with keyword research have used stuffy seed keywords, for example, “content marketing specialist Los Angeles,” now is the time to start making seed phrases more conversational.

Instead of the above example, it’s a great idea to research a phrase like “why do I need content marketing help in LA?” Since the latter phrase is more in line with what people will search for on voice-enabled platforms, it’s more likely to provide data that marketers can use to rank well in the voice search-dominated climate.

3. Redouble Your Long-tail Keyword Efforts

Long-tail keywords, which often correlates with long-form content, have always been a valuable marketing tactic, but they’re more important now than they’ve ever been before.

Since long-tail keywords are more detail-oriented and more in-line with the natural patterns of human speech, they’re better equipped to provide targeted search results and help your pages appear in front of the correct audience.

4. Ensure Your Site’s Local Data is Spot-On

If you have a map or physical address on your website (and you should), ensure that it’s accurate. This helps you appear in “near me” searches and can have a dramatic positive effect on your local ranking.

5. Use Schema Markup in Your Favor

Schema markup is a great way to boost relevance and local SEO. Designed to be placed on a website, schema markup is code that allows search engines to interpret your business correctly and deliver relevant results to Google users.

Ideal for any company with a local presence, schema markup can go a long way toward overhauling your search results.

Short-Tail Keywords, Make Way for The Future

While short-tail keywords have long since been a valuable part of marketing strategy, their time in the limelight is ebbing off. As search engines and search terms become more complex, conversational, and human-focused, short-tail keywords have been forced to step aside for long-tail phrases and semantic approaches.

While this may seem tragic, it’s actually a very good thing.

When marketers embrace the dissolution of the short-tail keyword, they position themselves to prepare more effectively for voice search, and all the things it has to offer.

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