SEO Basics: Short-Tail vs Long-Tail Keywords

February 25, 2022
SEO Basics: Short-Tail vs Long-Tail Keywords

Keywords are one of the most fundamental concepts of search engine optimization (SEO), and choosing the best keywords in your keyword research for your website is crucial for a successful campaign.While there are numerous SEO strategies to make your business more visible organically, the most important is going to be targeting the most relevant short-tail and long-tail keywords related to your business.Basically, keywords are what fuel your SEO.

What are Short-Tail Keywords?

Short-tail keywords are broad or generic search terms that are typically 1-2 words. Short-tail keywords are also often times called “head terms” or “broad keywords” since they refer to very broad topics.Since short-tail keywords only describe a certain category of knowledge, these terms are highly searched and highly competitive to rank for.For example, if you typed in the word “wallet” into Google, you will get a variety of search results (3,120,000,000 to be exact) that can pertain to different topic areas of a wallet (i.e. slim wallets, the Apple Wallet, phone cases, etc.)Over 3 billion searches is A LOT and Google isn’t able to identify the search intent with that broad of a search, so it’s going to give you as many results possible. For that reason, short-tail keywords are often extremely hard to rank for and typically don’t convert well since the user most likely won’t be able to find what they are looking for with that broad of a search.

What are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are more specific and typically consist of 3 or more words. Often times, long-tail keywords are much more relevant to the user’s search intent and target specific audiences.Since these keywords capture the user’s search intent, they are typically easier to rank for and are lower in search volume.For example, if you’re searching “best leather wallets,” you’re going to get a lot less, but way more relevant search results than if you were to just type in “wallet.”

Because you’ve given Google a lot more context around what you're searching for, you’re probably going to get a lot of articles on the best leather wallets. As a business owner, your conversions will be much higher with long-tail keywords and it’s recommended that you focus on these type of keywords on your website. Here’s a helpful illustration that sums it up:


How Do I Optimize with Long-Tail Keywords in 2022?

The good thing about Google is that it is always evolving its algorithm since it wants content to be tailored to a human audience, not a computer. The first step into picking the best long-tail keywords to optimize your site with is to know your target audience. If you know your target audience, you have a pretty good idea as to what type of keywords your audience would search for to get to your website.

Keyword Research

In SEO, keyword research is the practice of finding search terms that users enter into search engines when looking for products, services, or general information. Here are a couple of great ways to conduct keyword research:

  • Pay for an SEO Tool such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, or others.
  • Use an SEO agency to do the keyword research for you.
  • Google search – In the Google search bar, start by typing in a short-tail keyword and see what type of recommendations come up based on a history of searches relating to the keyword.

You can also use the Related Searches section on Google to see what other Google users are searching with that keyword:

And last, the People Also Ask section provides you with a list of questions related to your search:

Unique Selling Proposition

Knowing what sets your business apart from others is going to be key when finding keywords that lead to conversions. Start thinking about what makes your product or service the best out there. Once you know what these unique benefits are, you will be able to leverage that when researching for long-tail keywords that highlight differences between you and your competition. While these keywords might be unique with less volume, you’ll be reaching your most relevant audience and the conversion is what really matters in the end.

Determine The Needs of Your Target Audience

All customers have needs and wants, so if you can determine those early on, you’ll have a good idea around what type of searches your target audience is making. Here’s a couple questions to think about when determining the needs of your target audience:

  • What products or services do I offer that provide a solution?
  • What questions do my typical customers need answered?
  • What pain points do they have?

Conducting good keyword research, understanding your business’ unique selling proposition, and a good understanding of your target audience will set you up for success when determining the best keywords to target for your business.~ By Natalie Frazer