Looking at the Structure of a Keyword
The structure and length of a keyword is one of the crucial things that are directly correlated to its difficulty and volume. Search Engine Watch have recently released their ‘Complete guide to keyword research for SEO’. To read the full article, click here.
There are certain types of keywords that are significantly more difficult to rank for. On the other hand, there are those that constantly have high or low volume or may even fluctuate. A Good example is “Summer Olympics”.
Length of a keyword is another factor that is important for volume and difficulty. As you can presume, volume becomes lower for longer keywords and vice versa. Based on their length, we can differentiate three types of keywords:
Short-tail keywords (1 to 2 words)
Medium-tail keywords (3 to 4 words)
Long-tail keywords (longer than 4)
When it comes to structure, we can differentiate:
Head (main word or a phrase which is the centerpiece of the search)
Modifier (a word which can be substituted for other words in order to change a single aspect of the keywords meaning)
Tail (all other words used to describe or explain our query)
Short-tail keywords are the simplest formation. They only have a head word. Generally speaking, it is nearly impossible to rank for such a phrase due to extensive competition. However, they do bring an enormous traffic.
Medium-tail keywords are just the thing we are looking for. As you can presume, 3 to 4 word phrases are extremely sought after. They definitely do not have the same volume as short-tail keywords but with them, you stand a chance of ranking.
Long-tail keywords are longer phrases than four words. Even though they are really easy to rank for, they are often neglected due to their low volume. However, long tails can also be quite powerful when you rank for a lot of them at the same time.
Basically, when you perform research, you should focus on phrases that have medium volume and low or medium difficulty (thus medium-tail keywords). But, there is a catch. Keyword research doesn’t stop when you find such a phrase. Instead, you need to focus on those medium-tail keywords that are performing better than the rest.
If a keyword has lower volume, it needs to compensate by being easier to rank for. On the flipside, if it has medium difficulty, it needs to have higher search volume to justify the effort.