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Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords for Better SEO Strategy

11 mins read
Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords for Better SEO Strategy

Even a newbie to marketing and SEO knows and understands the value of using keywords for better content discoverability. With the right choice of keywords, you can optimize your content to drive more traffic to your website and improve your visibility in the SERPs. But how do you know what keywords you should target and which brings you the most value? This article focuses on the long-tail vs. short-tail keyword question. We’ll provide examples of long- and short-tail keywords and share guidelines on using keywords of both types in your content. Let’s dive in!

Long Tail Keywords vs. Short Tail – Which Should You Use in Your Web Copy? 

The answer to this question depends on your search intent. Do you want to yield more visitors? Or would you like to target those users who are ready to buy the products and services that you promote?

In fact, both types of keywords should be useful for your content strategy. However, long tail and short tail keywords slightly differ in how you should use them to optimize your web content. Before we dig into those details, let’s understand the difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords. 

Keywords are the building blocks and lifeblood of website content and search engines. Selecting the most appropriate keywords has two key roles: 

  • Content marketing
  • SEO

Short tail keywords are more general search queries, usually containing one or two words. Long tail keywords are more specific and use more words (usually more than three) to bring out more traffic and relevant results. 

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What Exactly is a Short Tail Keyword?

Short-tail keywords (also known as head keywords) are best suited for providing general information on a chosen topic. 

When you use such search terms as SEO, marketing, branding, etc., search engines find it difficult to determine a specific search intent. Short-tail keywords are generic. They commonly bring high search volumes since they do not serve a specific search category. For example, the search word “marketing” generates high search volumes. 

You may also discover that some of the search results are irrelevant, which results in low conversion rates. In most cases, search engines (in particular, Google) show a mix of results for a short tail keyword, giving users the freedom to select search results that meet their specific search intentions. For example, if ten results are displayed on a search results page, half of those results may be service providers, while the other half may be eCommerce and other transactional pages. 

When working on your content, writers must use keywords for search engines to recognize and categorize the messages they are communicating. 

What Exactly Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long tail keywords are more specific. Longer phrases are aimed at targeting different stages of the search process. Unlike short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords are more descriptive. Such phrases meet the user’s intent by appealing to relevance and increasing the conversion rate. Consider the following example. 

Unlike the short tail keyword example provided above, the long tail keyword leads to fewer search results and improved relevance that addresses the search intent. 

Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords Usage 

Before you decide if those are long-tail or short-tail keywords that you should use on your website, you need to make a clear statement about your goals. Do you aim to drive more traffic to your website, or do you wish to drive organic traffic with a huge probability your target audience will buy from you or invest in your business? This is when a clear understanding of long-tail vs. short tail keyword usage becomes important. 

The shorter the keyword, the higher the search volume. If your website and articles rank for short-tail keywords, you can expect a high volume of traffic. However, the competition for those keywords will be extremely high. Short tail keywords are the words most marketing teams want to rank for. The use of short-tail keywords commonly results in low conversion rates. 

Alternatively, longer keyword phrases result in lower search volumes. Many content marketers don’t pay much attention to such keyword phrases.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are highly targeted. These aim to meet a certain search intent of the target audience, thus increasing the chances of eventual conversions. Because of the lower competition, long-tail keywords have a better chance of providing a return on investment (ROI). 

Long-tail keywords result in higher conversion rates, lower competition, and lower costs to reach customers. Although such keywords have a lower search volume, they allow websites to rank easily at the top of search results. Most web businesses’ primary goal is to be discovered by their target audiences.Short-tail keywords will hardly help them succeed with this goal, though long-tail keywords are better suited for converting the click-through rate into paying customers. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t target short-tail keywords. Using short-tail and long-tail keywords is a great combination for building a comprehensive SEO strategy. 

Creating content that can match the implied user intent helps you achieve better visibility of your website in SERPs. Optimizing your website’s content for long tail keywords helps more customers easily find the data they are most interested in, thus improving your website’s discoverability. As a result, it will bring more traffic to your website. 

How to Conduct the Keyword Search

This topic deserves to be discussed in a separate blog post. Still, there are several basic rules and points for you to consider to get the most out of your research. Let’s get them listed below. 

  • Start your list of short-tail keywords with your brand’s name and the products or services you sell. A SIM card or an eSIM should be your first short-tail keyword if you sell telecom services. Start from there. 
  • Consider using the content that is already present on your website. For example, you may use headings and subheadings that can become effective sources for your target keywords, both short-tail and long-tail. 
  • Check out what keywords your competitors target. What are their tags, headings, and subheadings? Competitor websites are a treasure trove of keywords and other kinds of inspiration. So never miss a chance to check them out. 
  • Use location-based keywords. It’s vital for those companies that provide location-based services or products. Using locational keywords helps your company be found by clients who live near
  • Besides using brand-specific keywords, think about informational ones. Not all users searching for products or services provided by your company will have a direct intent to buy. Many users will look for more information before deciding to buy something. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and consider what information interests you. Questions are an excellent base for long-tail keywords. That’s certainly something worth considering during your keyword research. 

If all this sounds like hard work, fear not. Many useful free and paid keyword research tools are available in the market today. Some of the most popular solutions are SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Keyword Planer, to name a few. 

Final Words on Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords

When you want to get your business noticed and make a big impression, using both short-tail and long-tail keywords should work to your advantage. Many long-tail keywords used in your content can mean a substantial volume of general short-tail keywords that can drive more traffic to your website. 

Long-tail keywords have a higher click-through rate because of lower competition, resulting in a lower cost per click. Unlike short-tail keywords, long-tail ones result in higher conversion rates, simply because they are more focused and can reach target audiences looking for specific content with keywords that can engage them. 

In terms of ROI (return on investment), long-tail keywords will come naturally as part of the conversation. When your audience is engaged with your content, more people will follow, and your long-tail keywords will serve your business the best. 

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