The Long and Short of It – Tails in Search Engine Optimization

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Our article a week or so ago made it clear that paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a critical component of any successful real estate website strategy.  Realtors read and study SEO, try to do their best to understand how to appeal to the search engines, and then try to use what they learn to get better search engine positions. One of the phrases we see a lot is “long tail” in relation to search queries.  Of course, there’s the opposite as well, “short tail.”


These terms refer generally to the number of words in a search query.  For our business, “real estate” would be considered a short tail query, while “Colorado springs real estate for sale” would be a long tail query.  A basic rule that holds up is that short tail phrases yield “long numbers,” while long tail phrases yield “small numbers,” referring to the number of searches that are being done.  The phrase “real estate” is currently yielding 30,400,000 global monthly searches on Google, while our long tail example above yielded about 1000 global monthly searches.


So, do we have a better shot at a good position and visits to our site because more than 30 million people are using the phrase “real estate?”  Nope.  It’s just too broad a term for our example Colorado Springs, CO real estate agent, to try and optimize for that phrase to attract local website visitors.  And, the competition for the term is fierce.  The site will be many pages deep in the search results, and even visitors that might come from this search are highly unlikely to be looking for a home in Colorado Springs.

With less competition for long tail phrases, should this agent be optimizing pages for the single long term phrase “Colorado springs real estate for sale?”  Nope again.  It’s not that she needs to concentrate on this or any other single long tail phrase, but that creating content that uses a great many words and phrases relevant to real estate in the Colorado Springs area will begin to enjoy traffic from people using longer tail keyword searches.  Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool gives us pages of examples for this Colorado Springs site, but we’ll just look at a few here:


Keyword Searches Done Per Month Results
Colorado springs real estate for sale 1000 1,980,000
Colorado springs real estate listings 590 1,940,000
Colorado springs real estate agent 720 998,000
Colorado springs homes 49,500 5,070,000
Real estate in Colorado springs 22,200 4,970,000
Colorado springs homes for sale 14,800 1,080,000
Colorado springs condominiums 4,400 196,000

Choosing one long tail phrase, perhaps the “Colorado springs condominiums” phrase, and optimizing the site’s home page for that one would be a good decision.  There’s good search volume, and the competition will be much less for that phrase, giving the site a much better shot at high position on the first page for that phrase.  You’re getting the picture.  Then throw in every neighborhood and subdivision’s name with ending phrases like “real estate”, “homes for sale”, “waterfront”, “short sale” and others, and you can see that there are thousands of long tail combinations that people will use to search for real estate in your area. begins by constructing websites to be search engine friendly.  Using SEO-friendly URL linking structures, it’s easier for the engines to index the site content. RealtySoft’s integrated IDX solution also adds hundreds of “Relevant” listing pages to your website. But, not stopping there, XML sitemaps are created that lead the search engine robots through the site to make sure all of the words and content are indexed.  RealtySoft’s syndication of listings is also helpful in getting links back to the site, an important ranking criteria for Google search.

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Brandon Patton
Richland, WA
Desiganted Broker/Owner

It seems like it takes about a week to understand what it takes to get on the first page of google. However, it seems like the work that needs to be performed to make it there is a life time investment. Understanding what it takes to be number one and being number one are two diffrent things.

Good Post,

Brandon Patton

Mar 20, 2011 09:32 AM #31
Virginia Dean
Keller Williams Realty - Visalia, CA

Very informative post.  I have bookmarked it to re-read to enhance my chances of understanding it all.


Thanks so much.

Mar 20, 2011 09:41 AM #32
Keith Lawrence
RE/MAX Properties - Mahwah, NJ
ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist

Great article.  I will work on revising my SEO.

Mar 20, 2011 10:09 AM #33
Dawn Crawley
Dawn Crawley Realty - Pinehurst, NC
Find Pinehurst Homes

Thanks for sharing. I've been working on it, just too busy showing homes to concentrate as I'd like.

Mar 20, 2011 12:19 PM #34
Mark Montross
Catamount Realty Group - Burlington, VT
Listing and Buyer Specialist

Thank you for this very detailed description. It was very helpful and I will look to use this technique.

Mar 20, 2011 08:40 PM #35
Kim & Kristine Halverson, Santa Monica Real Estate :) - Santa Monica, CA
Realtors, Santa Monica Real Estate, CA

Thanks for the info.  It's taking awhile to learn about SEO.  Each article helps.  Kristine :)

Mar 20, 2011 09:25 PM #36
Keller Williams Capital Properties-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Washington, DC
How much is my Washington DC House Worth?

Peyman liked this one. Didn't know there is a difference from Integrated IDX and a Framed IDX. STAY AWAY FROM Framed IDX:-). Bookmarking this one for feature references. Great post.

Mar 20, 2011 11:01 PM #37
Patrick Dague
Get Investors Now - San Diego, CA
Find Investors Coach

Hey, great post! Thanks much for the obvious effort that went into it. I'm going to copy it to my hard drive for future reference, and keep an eye open for other posts from you. Again, much appreciated! :)

Mar 20, 2011 11:20 PM #38
Jeanne M. Gavish
Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - Spring Hill, FL
Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S

Really informative post!  I learned a lot, thanks

Apr 01, 2011 08:53 AM #39
Bob Zorechak - ABR, GRI, e-PRO
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan - Morristown, NJ
Sells Homes in Morris/Somerset/Hunterdon Cos., NJ

Very good explanation of SEO and "long/short tail" search phrases, especially for the                    more inexperienced SEO'ers.  

Apr 01, 2011 08:57 AM #40
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

I am on vacation right now but have bookmarked this one to come back to next week when I am home again!!! thanks!

Apr 01, 2011 10:52 AM #41
Jim McCormack
Accelerate Realty Group, LLC - Nashville Short Sales & Foreclosure Help - Murfreesboro, TN
Nashville Short Sale REALTOR - Stop Foreclosure

This post contains great SEO advice and information.

Apr 01, 2011 11:15 AM #42
Evelyn Kennedy
Gallagher & Lindsey, Alameda, California - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I don't understand all of what you said.  But my next goal is to tackle SEO.  Your article may be a good start.  Thanks for your blog.

Apr 01, 2011 01:14 PM #43
Chuck Carstensen
RE/MAX Results - Elk River, MN
Minnesota Real Estate Expert

I have a coupld keywords that hit well for me and need to work on getting others to work too.

Apr 01, 2011 01:38 PM #44
Donna Malone
Waterfront, Luxury, Family, Affordable, Cottage, Deals - Bridgewater, NS
Homes and Property for Sale Nova Scotia

Great tips. I didn't know that.

Apr 01, 2011 06:23 PM #45

Good info, thanks!

Apr 01, 2011 11:02 PM #46

Good info, thanks!

Apr 01, 2011 11:03 PM #47

Good info, thanks!

Apr 01, 2011 11:03 PM #48
Good to see a tealnt at work. I can’t match that.
Jun 20, 2011 11:16 PM #49
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Trying to get on the first page of google any suggestions Peyman and hope you have a great weekend

Jul 31, 2014 05:23 PM #50
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