Here at WTM Digital, we generally classify keywords that are three or less words in length as short-tail, and keywords four or more words in length as long-tail. Our partners often ask why so much time is spent on finding these long-tail keywords and what significance they have on the overall performance of an account.

We decided to dig a little deeper and run some metrics to better illustrate the positive impact that long-tail keywords can generate.

Analysis of Keyword Word Length

We pulled a list of over 100,000 active keywords from ALL of the Google AdWords accounts managed under the WTM Digital “My Client Center” (MCC). These keywords come from a wide variety of industries, each with their own level of competition, costs and search intent. Branded keywords were removed from this analysis, along with keywords that have not received any clicks in the past 12 months. Conversion data was also omitted because each account has very specific guidelines on what is considered a “conversion” or “purchase”.

The results below are clear-cut. The “X” axis lists the four main KPIs we decided to use (Click through rate, Cost per click, Quality Score, Position) and the “Y” axis contains the number of words in each keyword. A color scale is in place ranging from red (worst) to green (best). In this instance, nearly every single KPI improves as the keywords become lengthier:

Long tail versus short tail keywords in Google AdWord accounts

I’m aware that many variables comprise these KPIs (historical optimization, ad copy, bidding methods, sample size, match type, etc…) and this is by no means a “controlled” analysis. However, I urge all AdWord managers to run similar reports and gauge the performance of long-tail VS short-tail keywords. You may be surprised at how well your long-tail keywords perform!

Implications of Findings

So let’s say you have a finite budget of $1,000 a month to spend on AdWords. Without the addition of long-tail keywords, you will be spending all of your budget on the more competitive, expensive short-tail keywords. While it’s always great to have a mix of keyword lengths, you need the long-tails to drive targeted visitors at the bottom of the search funnel who are more likely to convert. The long-tails will increase your overall CTR, drive your Quality Score and Ad Rank up, and allow for more traffic at lower costs.

Check back next month for instructions on how to find long-tail keywords and to call us to learn more about our Paid Search Management services; our team of certified professionals are here to help.