To get the answer, we analyzed real campaign data

Do long-tail keywords actually improve conversion rate? It makes perfect intuitive sense that, when a shopper is searching for a “jimmy choo women’s black leather jacket” and then actually lands on a page Example Google search results page for long-tail keywordshowing exactly those items, the conversion rate should be quite good. But by how much? Let’s look at real data from a major retailer of apparel and accessories to see the impact on their paid-search campaigns.

It’s easy to get lots of data. Unfortunately, it is not simple to have data that is very clearly comparable. An analysis problem I have often seen is that the campaigns and ad groups that have long-tail keywords are quite different than those that do not. For example, campaigns with keywords containing the retailer’s brand usually convert better and often have fewer long-tail keywords. Aggregating over a campaign or set of campaigns, therefore, of head keywords vs. long tail does not yield a true comparison due to the presence of other factors.


The Long-Tail Keywords Experiment

To compare performance of head to long-tail keywords, the landing page destinations for each keyword must accurately reflect the information in the keyword. For example, if the long-tail keyword adds the word “blue”, then the destination must filter the items to those that are “blue”. Only then can the data give us true insight into the full impact of the long-tail keywords on performance.

To isolate other factors for this experiment, we compared performance for product keywords in a set of non-retailer-brand campaigns. For example, keywords such as “evening dress” and “polo shirt” compared to keywords containing size and with color such as “evening dress size 8” and “blue polo shirt”. The analyzed campaigns contained about 50,000 keywords, of which 3,000 included size and 11,000 included color. Performance was analyzed from over 80,000 shopper search ad clicks. Of those clicks, 20% were on the long-tail size and color keywords.


And the Results

The results in the table below show the major impact of long-tail keywords. Conversion rate increase of +32% for the keywords that contained size or color information compared to those that did not. Since 20% of the campaign clicks were on these long-tail keywords, performance of the entire campaign really improved.

Of course, having long-tail keywords is not sufficient to achieve these results. Others have written that the fact that a shopper uses a long-tail search query is an indication of being further along the shopping journey – specifying more detail of what they want and closer to a purchase decision. Thus, even if both the head and long-tail keywords landed the shopper on the same destination, then we would expect some increase in performance from the long-tail keyword.

In this analysis, we wanted to see the full impact of the long-tail keywords. As I had said earlier, the shopper “then actually lands on a page showing those items”. This comparison incorporated Vioby’s LinkDirector™ service that automatically optimizes the destination landing page for each keyword. Thus, the destinations for the long-tail keywords that included size or color were landing pages that had the size and/or color filters set on the page — the item results were filtered to those the shopper specified. I know that managing the destinations manually for every keyword is a very time consuming task, given the daily changes in inventory and product offering as I discussed in this article, Just How Fast Do E-Commerce Websites Change? 


Action Items for Your Campaign

OK, long-tail keywords combined with accurate destination landing pages are very good. What does this suggest for the campaign manager? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. First is the obvious! Add more long-tail keywords based on new products/categories and item variations that you do carry. Analyze the Search Terms Report to see the actual queries of your shoppers. Are they asking for colors, sizes, materials, features and other parameters? Don’t just add each search as an exact-match keyword, but use the data to create your new long-tail keywords.
  2. When a shopper searches for blue suede shoes, you want to show the blue suede shoes that you carry. Use the filters on your destination landing pages to show the right items. Set the color filter = blue & material = suede. When your shopper sees those blue suede shoes, they bounce less often. With small-screen mobile devices, the first few items she sees are critical.
  3. Don’t forget that the items you carry and those you have in stock — your inventory — are always changing. Thus, you may run out of those suede shoes in blue and you really don’t want to show an empty page to your shopper. Thus, you need to validate the destination page for each keyword to be sure that the page is still available and has items. When items are out of stock, either pause the keyword until there is inventory again or change the destination to show a larger category, for example, the suede shoes you do have.

Adding long-tail keywords is something that most campaign managers do regularly, but making sure that your destination pages are showing the most relevant items for each keyword as the website and inventory change can be quite difficult without automated tools. And validating each destination page frequently can take lots of effort if done manually.

With new automated tools such as LinkDirector from Vioby, determining the optimal landing page for each keyword and validating those landing pages frequently is no longer a manual task. Using AI, machine learning and semantic understanding technologies, our LinkDirector service results in improved shopper experience and drives revenue through increased conversion rate. For more info, visit our website or send us a message.