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AdWords keyword phrases 2-4 words in length give best ROI

15 March 2017 (Edited 15 March 2017)

Report by Wesley Parker for Econsultancy presents results of research by Clicteq and PPC Hero into the effectiveness of long-tail AdWords keywords in 2017.


  • For the purposes of this research, long-tail keyword phrases are defined as containing 4 or more words.
  • The theory of long-tail keyword phrases assumes that only 10% of traffic is produced by 1-word keywords; but more recent studies have found that as much as 52% of traffic comes from 1-word search terms.

Conclusions drawn from the present research:

  • Your time is 33X more effectively spent in working on the top 20% of keywords than on those that are 4 or more words in length.
  • If you swap all of your 1-3-word keyword phrases for 4+-word phrases, you will lose 90% of impressions and 80% of conversions.
  • You would need 200 keywords containing 4+ words to generate 1 click/month, and that would be inefficient to manage.
  • Using 4+-word keywords makes it difficult to make ads more specific, because of AdWords character-count constraints.
  • In 2017 about 94% of impressions will come from search terms 1-4 words in length.
  • Only 2-3% of conversions come from keyword phrases 4+ words long.
  • Best keyword phrase length is 2-4 words.

Recommended techniques for finding 2-4-word keyword phrases:

  • Use Google's keyword multiplier tool in the Keyword Planner.
  • Use Ubersuggest keyword tool (
  • Review your search-terms report for long-tail variants.

Please note that those conclusions and recommendations come from the original researchers via Econsultancy. I'm reporting, not endorsing. And I've never used the Ubersuggest keyword tool, and am not in any way affiliated with the developers.

That being said: overall, these findings make a lot of sense. Time is the enemy. And it costs money. And yes, it is more difficult and time-consuming to write a good AdWords ad around a keyword phrase 4+ words long than around a shorter one.

- David

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David Boggs    - David
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