long tail and short tail keywords

Short-tail and long-tail keywords explained

One of the most important practices in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is keyword research. SEO keywords range from simple words to complex phrases and are used to increase organic search traffic. Properly researched and optimised keywords can effectively connect your target audience with your website.

The main goal of keyword research is to identify search terms that can rank in search engines. Choosing the best keywords to target is important for your website’s success. When doing your research, you’ll come across short-tail and long-tail keywords, as follows:

Long and short tail keywords

What are short-tail keywords?

These keywords typically consist of less than 3 words and refer to general topics that are popular search terms. If web users search for a broad topic, they are likely to enter a short-tail keyword consisting of just one or two words.

For instance, typing “SEO” in a search engine will have millions of results and this term has plenty of monthly searches. Thus, getting your site listed on top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for this keyword will be almost impossible. Beginners can be tempted to target short-tail keywords as they hold the most traffic, but remember that they are very competitive, as opposed to targeting a long-tail keyword that’s more specific.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are highly focused keywords that are usually made up of three or more words. Although these keywords have fewer searches, you can use their “unpopularity” to your advantage. For example, you can target a keyword that’s more specific to your business so it will be less competitive, and the traffic you generate can lead to conversions.

It’s easier to rank higher using long-tail keywords, and users who visit your site using long-tail terms are more likely to purchase. This is because these keywords are more specific, unlike using short-tail keywords that are often used in the early stages of looking for a product or service, like initial researching.

Long-tail keywords will also help you reach a more targeted audience and can give good results in these areas:


If you’re combining Pay-per-Click strategies together with your SEO campaigns, keywords that are less in-demand usually have lower costs than short-tail keywords. When you bid on longer keywords, there’s less competition, so the cost per click is lower.

Improved site engagement

There are lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates, as visitors to your site are searching for the specific product that you offer.

Better focus

Your website is more likely to attract potential customers when you’re focused on the terms they are searching for.

It’s clear that long-tail keywords usually offer a higher return on investment. However, short-tail keywords are still worth looking into as the most traffic to your site comes from short queries. They’re important for promoting brand awareness and driving traffic to your site. A more successful strategy would use both types as they both help in your website optimisation.

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Short-tail and long-tail keywords explained
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Short-tail and long-tail keywords explained
This article explains why short-tail & long-tail keywords are important, and how targeting both can help you optimise your website. Read more at Vaccoda.
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