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Long Tail Keywords vs Short Tail Keywords

Long Tail Keywords vs Short Tail Keywords

Ahh,  keywords. They are the lifeblood of SEO  – and understanding how keywords work is the crux of understanding how to use them within your SEO efforts.

What is a Long Tail Keyword?

Long tail keywords are essentially “phrases” – between three and six words that form a semi-sentence, and contain keywords. These types of keywords generally have lower search volumes in search engines, and are considerably less popular than there closely related Short Tail keywords.

For this exact reason, ranking for long tail keywords – especially when you’re just starting out – is considerably easier. Long tail keywords are more targeted to specific searches and come with less competition. For example, “coffee machines” versus “order coffee machines online.” The first one is a short tail keyword, only two words, and the latter is considered a long-tail keyword, four words.

What are the Benefits of Long Tail Keywords?

They are more targeted –  “one of the biggest benefits to long tail keywords is that you can better understand a searcher’s intent. By targeting these limited searches, your ad is likely to be a lot more relevant to what people are actually searching for versus searches with a more generic term.”

They are in a less competitive ranking – “long tail keyword phrases are less popular and don’t apply to all searches. Due to the low search volume of these terms, fewer advertisers will be competing for them. The less advertisers bidding on your phrase, means a higher potential for people searching to click on your ad and ultimately make a purchase.”

What is a Short Tail Keyword?

Short tail keywords are the “to-the-point” and more competitive sibling of long tail keywords. They usually comprise of between one and three words, with no “stop words” – for example “the”, “for” or “to”. These types of keywords have a far higher search traffic, as people usually only type in a short, general term to find their results.

The results for short tail keywords are highly competitive, with many businesses vying for the top spot on Google’s organic results.

What Are The Benefits of Short Tail Keywords?

Higher rankings – if you can crack the code and, by means of using White Hat SEO (LINK) manage to bolster yourself to the top of the search results page, your content may very well allow you  a higher conversion and traffic rate on your website.

Less costly than PPC. While there is a time and place for everything, along with the fact that paid searches have undeniable benefit, SEO-tailored blogs and articles with the correct short tail keyword structure can have far less costly, and far wider-reaching benefits that paid Google searches.


So, if you are just starting out, try mixing it up a little. Publish a few optimised posts using long-tail keywords, and then a few using short tail keywords. Continually updating and making your article more relevant will have long-term benefits for your website.


Cover Image Credit: Union Street Media

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