A new study on tails for search engine keywords suggests shorter phrases may mean you miss vital sections of potential customers.

Chikita Insights looked at the average number of words used by searchers on a range of search engines.

General SEO practice dictates it’s usually better to aim for short-tail keywords – snappy phrases that use two or three words to sum up what a user might search for.

But this could mean your pages don’t rank for certain search users – mainly those who are less internet-savvy or confident online.

The study found AOL users typed around 4.17 words per search, with Ask users using 4.74 words.

However, when Chikita looked at searches of eight words or more, they found almost 15% of Ask users were writing almost-complete sentences to search, compared to 8.38% of AOL searches hitting eight words or more.

From the research, it suggests that using short-tails will help improve Google page ranks, but could mean you miss out on users of AOL and Ask – an audience which may be particularly important if you’re trying to rank your pages for products suited to older people.

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