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Longer search phrases convert better
2010-02-19: They say that longer search phrases convert better. Think of how you search. You might enter, say, "mole remover" and realise that covers both moles in the ground and skin aberrations so you go for "mole catcher". That brings up all sorts of national things, and you want one near where you live, so you enter "mole catcher Pickering". You realise there's a Pickering in Yorkshire and one in Ontario, so you enter "mole catcher Pickering Yorkshire". Now you click on someone from the listing.
They say that searches of one or two words are 'research searches', while longer searches are buying phrases. It's not always true, if you want a Bosch 123XP then that's pretty much all there is to say.
But I wondered. I have a client who gets about 1,000 visits per week so I checked their results for the last year.
Keyphrases containing 2 words converted at 0.77%. 3 words, 1%. 4 words 1.13%. So 4 word keyphrases converted 46% better than 2 word phrases.
That's interesting from a search engine optimisation point (SEO) point of view, because it's a lot easier to get a first page position for "mole catcher Pickering Yorkshire" than just "mole catcher", and anyway unless you are genuinely a national organisation you'll be wasting money trying to get a listing for a national phrase.
So, work on getting a great position for a long phrase that relates specifically to you and where you've had good conversion. When you're on the front page for that, work on another. You could take one a day if you really wanted (this particular client was found for 11,379 different phrases through the year, note: those are just the phrases they were found for, there might be lots more relevant phrases they weren't found for).
It also means in Pay Per Click (where conversion really is key to the success of your campaign) that you might want to advertise for longer keyphrases only. Since there are lots of those, one way to do that might be, in Adwords, to advertise for, say "party games" as a phrase match, which means your ad will appear for "beer based party games", "rude party games" and so on .. so long as it includes "party games", but then put in [party games] as a negative phrase, so you exclude the 2-word phrase "party games", leaving you with just the longer phrases.

By John Allsopp
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