Picture this. You’re coming up with a new marketing strategy. You’ve got everything taken care of, and now it’s time to bid on keywords. You and your team brainstorm for days coming up with the perfect keywords for your gym. You remember basic keyword practices such as placing the city, type of business and keeping them short and sweet. The keywords you choose to focus on are ‘gym,’ ‘fitness,’ and ‘personal training.’ These keywords are the most expensive, and if others are spending so much on them, they must be the best. You high five your team for a job well done and head out for a nice dinner. You’ve just bid on vanity keywords. Vanity keywords only make up 30% of all overall search traffic. What about the other 70% of search traffic? Should we be so obsessed with vanity keywords?

What are Vanity Keywords?

Vanity, or short-tail keywords, are short phrases or single words that are always the most expensive keywords to bid on. The term ‘vanity’ comes from the fact that they’re usually keywords used to promote what the business is trying to sell or promote. The terms ‘gym’ or “personal training” may be searched the most, but they also generate extremely broad results. Vanity keywords become problematic for these reasons:

  • These keywords cause a higher bounce rate because they come with unqualified traffic that leaves sites without browsing around
  • “Personal training” is a highly competitive keyword which would cause the cost to be substantially higher than other keywords
  • Because it is a very broad keyword combination, “personal training” will more than likely have a lower conversion rate and will be harder to rank in search engines.

Focusing on these keywords may be a crux of your overall marketing strategy and long-tail keywords would give you the most bang your bidding.

Why Long-tail Keywords?

Shorter keywords have fierce competition with higher bounce rates, and your Return on investment (ROI) can be low. Long-tail keywords or even keywords with a little addition can be more beneficial to your business goals. These keywords are three to four-word phrases that are more specific to what you’re selling or attempting to promote. For example instead of “personal training” which is what you’re promoting, making a slight adjustment and modifying it to “personal trainer Miami” makes a drastic difference. Here’s a difference between the cost and searches of these two different keywords in Google’s keyword planner.

Notice how “personal training” gets a larger number of searches than “personal trainer Miami,” and the bid amount for the former is higher. The average monthly searches for “personal trainer” reaches 100k meaning that these searches have many other results. If your gym is in Miami, personal training may not bring you as much success as personal trainer Miami even with the thousands of additional searches. Long-tail keywords ensure that search traffic is more suited to your specific service or product while having lower bidding prices than vanity keywords.

The takeaway from this is that even though there could be millions of more searches for short-tail keywords, you should rethink your strategies if those are your focus. Instead of being so hung up on capturing the most popular vanity keyword, try to come up with strategies that incorporate more specific long-tail keywords. The payoff might surprise you.