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SEO is the foundation on which a good digital marketing strategy lays.

But, with so much competition, you might find that big brands have already taken all the good keywords that are generating traffic.

As a new business or creator, this can feel daunting, and you might not know where to begin your journey. After all, you might have heard of long tail vs. short tail keywords but don’t know which one to select.

If you are struggling with keyword research in SEO, you have come to the right place.

Our SEO experts have created an in-depth guide to help you understand the two types of keywords and how to research each for the best keyword strategy.

Keyword Definition: An Overview

A poster explaining the definition of keywordIt is crucial to understand what keywords are before diving into the two main types. These are phrases and terms that people look for when they are searching for a company, product, or website.

You will find various types of keywords for SEO. These include seed keywords, body keywords, long tail, and much more.

Digital marketing strategies keep on changing, which is why it is crucial to stay up to date on which keyword types to use.

Let’s understand each type in detail to make the right decision for your SEO strategy.

What are Short Tail Keywords?

A line graph depicting the average monthly search volumes of long tail and short tail keywords

Data Source

Short tail keywords have many names. These are known as seed keywords, broad terms, or even head terms.

Generally, these keywords contain a maximum of three words to create a phrase. These are broad terms that a customer thinks of when searching for something.

For example, if you want to search for men’s leather shoes, and you put this query into Google, then the companies ranking top for this short tail keyword will show up on the top.

Keep in mind that these keywords are intended for a broad audience, and they might not necessarily convert. It can also be difficult to rank for such keywords because the competition is intense.

The Pros

Now that you have an idea about short tail keywords, we can review some of their top advantages for your digital marketing strategy:

1. High Search Volume

One of the top pros of short tail keywords is that they have an incredibly high search volume. For example, a simple short tail keyword such as “Uber eats driver” has a search volume of 65K, as you can see from the image below.

Ahrefs search volume results of the keyword Uber eats driver

Data Source

As a general rule, if a keyword is short, it will have a very high search volume. So, if you rank for a short tail keyword, you will automatically get a lot of organic traffic.

2. Easy to Search

It will not take you a long time to search for short tail keywords. All you have to do is have a small brainstorming session, and you will come up with many short tail keywords.

For example, your product name, company name, or mission can be your keywords. If you don’t have extensive tools or the time to research, then you can stick to short tail keywords.

3. Easy to Incorporate in Content Strategy

A content strategy can be a daunting task to create when you are starting a new business and want to gain some visibility. However, short tail keywords are incredibly easy to incorporate in your content strategy.

These keywords are useful for creating easy content that will become an important part of your SEO strategy.

The Cons

While short tail keywords have various benefits, they also have some limitations when you compare long tail vs. short tail keywords.

Here are some limitations of short tail keywords you might encounter when adding them to your content strategy:

1. Intense Competition

Perhaps the top limitation of short tail keywords is that there is intense competition for those keywords. This means that many top brands are already targeting those keywords and driving traffic to their website.

These keywords also have a high cost, and it will take you a lot to bid on these types of search terms.

For example, if you search for a term like “pizza” on Google, you will see that top international chains are ranking for this keyword.

Google search results of the keyword pizzaThis means that the competition is intense, and you might not rank for this keyword if you are new.

2. The Search Term is Not Targeted

Another issue with short tail keywords is that the search term is not targeted and has no specific intent. These terms are more general, so you might not get the right audience when you target these keywords on your website.

For example, when people search for pizza, they might look for pizza shops or a recipe to create at home or just research the different types of pizza.

It is not necessary that these visitors will convert, which is why short tail keywords can have a low conversion rate. This means you might generate a lot of clicks, but this doesn’t need to lead to conversions.

What are Long Tail Keywords?

Long tail keywords are terms that have a low search volume and competition. Generally, these phrases have more than three words and a specific intent.

When people enter such terms and phrases on search engines, they are looking for something specific. The more specific the search is, the more likely it is that they have an intent to purchase.

Remember that you might not generate high levels of traffic when you are targeting long tail keywords. Instead, the aim of using these keywords is to ensure that visitors can convert.

The Pros

Let’s review some of the top advantages of opting for long-tail keywords in your content strategy:

1. The Competition is Low

One of the main differences between long tail vs. short tail keywords is that long tail keywords have low competition. This means that you don’t have to compete with a lot of people in the same niche.

Because of this, the cost per click will also be low, which means you will not have to pay too much for the clicks on the search results.

2. Keywords Align with Search Intent

Another benefit of long tail keywords is that such terms align with the user’s search intent. People who use narrow terms are at the bottom of the sales funnel, which means they are more likely to convert.

So, if you want your visitors to convert, then you must opt for long tail keywords. You might not get insane amounts of traffic, but people who actually want to buy something will browse your website.

For example, somebody who searches for “weight loss” might just need weight loss tips or ways to lose weight.

However, someone searching “weight loss supplements” is looking for something specific and has a purchase intention.

The person searching for the second term will more likely make a purchase, and this will help your business in the long run.

3. The Cost per Click is lower

Finally, another benefit of long tail keywords is that the cost per click is lower. Because the competition is less, advertisers can run paid search marketing campaigns without a high cost.

Whether you want to do SEO or run a paid search marketing campaign, long tail keywords will provide you less cost and competition. So, be sure to add this term to your keyword strategy.

The Cons

There are certain limitations to using long tail keywords. We have explored some of them below to give you an idea of such limitations:

1. Difficult to Add in Content Strategy

The beauty of short tail keywords is that they can follow naturally in your content strategy. On the other hand, long tail keywords are much more difficult to use in an organic manner.

They are also harder to identify because you will need tools and other methods to strategically find such keywords for your content.

It is crucial to have SEO tools that can give you some data so that you can easily find long tail keywords that will guarantee conversions.

2. It Takes Time and Effort to Research

Another con of long tail keywords is that it takes some time and effort to research these terms. You will have to get into the mind of your target audience and think about what they might search for.

Then, you will have to add these queries to a search engine or SEO tool that will provide you with relevant data. It is crucial to use tools because there are long tail keywords that turn out to be empty terms.

This means that not enough people are searching for this term, and adding it to your content strategy might not be useful to you. Having the right SEO software can help you find the right long tail keywords to add to your strategy.

Short Tail and Long Tail Keyword Examples

Now that you have an idea about long tail vs. short tail keywords, you might want to know the different types of examples to understand these terms better.

We have divided both of these types and provided you with general short tail and long tail keyword examples to help further your understanding of these keywords:

Short Tail Keyword Examples

Some examples of short tail keywords include the following:

  • Pizza shops
  • Cafes near me
  • Women’s clothing
  • Digital marketing
  • Starbucks menu
  • Cheesy recipes
  • Studying hacks

These are some examples of common short tail keywords.

For example, if you look at the Ahrefs data, you will find that the short tail keyword “Starbucks menu” has a search volume of 843,000.

Search volume of the keyword starbucks menu on Ahrefs

Data Source 

Depending on your niche, you can also such general short tail keywords to your strategy.

Long Tail Keyword Examples

Long tail keywords have more than three words. But, more than that, the users searching for these terms have a specific intent in mind.

Some examples of long tail keywords include the following:

  • Best men’s shoes for winter
  • Organic coffee shops near me
  • Can meditation make you smarter
  • How to lose weight fast
  • How to invest in Bitcoin

You can create content strategies around such keywords and help people get the answers they are looking for when they are searching for these terms.

Even some of these long tail keywords can have a high search volume. According to Ahrefs data, the long tail keyword “how to lose weight fast” has a search volume of 180,000.

Search volume of the keyword how to lose weight fast on Ahrefs

Data Source

But, the competition is intense so it is crucial to find the right long tail keywords that have an adequate search volume and lower competition.

Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords: The Differences

A comparison table of long tail vs. short tail keywordsAs you can see from the image above, the differences between long tail vs. short tail keywords lie in the various qualities, such as conversion rates, cost, focus, competition, and much more.

You can assess these differences and then decide which keywords you want to add to your strategy. We recommend using a mix of short tail and long tail keywords for the best results.

How to Find Long Tail Keywords

There are many ways you can find long tail keywords. We recommend having some analysis tools for these keywords to understand the search volume, keyword difficulty, and other factors that will help you find the right keywords.

Here are the top three ways you can find long tail keywords for your website:

1. Analyze the Competition

A great way to begin your search is to know what your competitors are doing so you can also rank high. Many SEO tools have made this analysis easy.

For example, Ahrefs has a Site Explorer tool where you can easily find long tail keywords by following these steps:

  • Enter the URL of your competitor
  • Go to the section of Organic Keywords on the left
  • Change the search volume to a maximum of 300 and apply this filter
  • Click on Show Results, and get keywords from the page of your competitors

In the image below, we have shown you an example of how you can use Ahrefs settings to find these keywords. We did a site exploration of HubSpot, a popular digital marketing blog to find their long tail keywords.

A keyword analysis of Hubspot from Ahrefs

Data Source

2. The Related Searches Section on Google

Google Related Searches section of the keyword bloggingAnother great place to find long tail keywords is the Related Searches section on Google. Here are the steps you can follow to find long tail keywords using this method:

  • Type a keyword on Google Search for what you want to rank for
  • Go to the bottom of the page
  • Look at the Related Searches section for long tail keywords related to what you searched
  • Take one of the keywords from this section and paste it into the Google search bar again
  • See the Related Searches for that keyword to create a list of long tail keyword options you can use

The best part about using this method is that because you are going straight to Google, you know that people are actually searching for these terms.

3. Discussion Boards and Forums

If you are looking for unique long-tail keywords, then discussion boards and forums are great places to find these.

After all, where else can you find people asking questions that they need answers to? So, when you go through such forums, you know that other people are also searching for similar questions.

The secret is to find discussion boards and forums where you know your target audience likes hanging out.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are some queries you can search on Google to find the right forums and boards:

  • Keyword + discussions
  • Keyword + forum
  • Keyword +boards

For example, if your target audience is someone who wants to learn more about digital marketing, then you can search “digital marketing discussions” on Google to find the relevant forums and boards.

Google search results of digital marketing discussionsHow to Find Short Tail Keywords

Now that you know how to find long tail keywords, you might be wondering how to find short tail keywords for your content.

The good news is that you can follow the same methods as you did for long tail keywords, along with some additional steps.

Let’s review some easy methods you can add to your content strategy to find short tail keywords:

1. Use a Keyword Research Tool

While you can come up with short tail keywords by yourself, it is crucial to use a research tool to find relevant data about the keywords.

For example, if you use a tool such as Ahrefs, you can simply type in the keyword, and you will get a list of short tail keywords along with their data.

Let’s say you want to create a blog about Bitcoin. You type “Bitcoin” into the keyword explorer tool, and you will get a list of short tail keywords related to it, as you can see from the image below.

Keyword results on Bitcoin on Ahrefs

Data Source

When you do this, you will have a wider variety of short tail keywords that you can target in your content.

2. Google Autocomplete

If you want to rank high on search engines for a keyword, then you can go straight to the source. Google Autocomplete is a great option if you are a small business and don’t have the budget to invest in research and analysis tools.

It is incredibly simple to use this method. All you have to do is type the keyword in the Google search bar, and it will give you a list of keywords that people are searching for.

You can then use any of the keywords or a variety of them in your content strategy. In the image below, you can see that we have done this for the keyword “coffee.”

Google search results of the keyword coffeeAs soon as we typed in this keyword, Google gave us a list of suggestions, such as coffee tables, coffee shops, coffee makers, etc. In the same way, you can also add your keyword and get suggestions for short tail keywords.

3. Conduct an Analysis of Content Gap

Finally, you can conduct an analysis of the content gap. Such an analysis will provide you with insights into the keywords your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t yet.

It will help you target any popular short tail keywords within your niche and eliminate gaps between your content and your competitors. Many keyword tools, such as Ahrefs, have this feature.

So, if you want to conduct an analysis based on research and data, then you will need a helpful tool at your disposal.

Long Tail vs. Short Tail Distribution of Keywords

It is important to opt for the right distribution of long tail and short tail keywords. The key is to ensure that the density of both the keywords stays between 1 & 2%.

If you increase the keyword density, then this will count as keyword stuffing. Since seed keywords are easier to add to your content, you can keep a higher density of these keywords.

On the other hand, you can keep the density of the long tail keyword to a minimum and sprinkle it sparingly throughout the content.

Doing this will ensure that you have mapped the long tail and short tail keywords in the appropriate manner.


What are examples of short and long-tail keywords?

Short tail keywords only have three words, such as “best shoes.” On the other hand, long tail keywords have more than three words and are more specific, such as “best running shoes for women.”

What is the main difference between simple and long tail keywords?

The main difference between the two is popularity. Short tail keywords are highly popular and are incredibly competitive. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are less popular, which means less competition and easier to rank for.

What is an example of a long tail keyword?

Examples of long tail keywords include: “best coffee shops near me,” “how to lose weight in two weeks,” and much more. The longer the query, the shorter the competition, which means it will be easy to rank for.

How do you identify long tail keywords?

Some ways to identify long tail keywords include the following:

  • Google Related Searches section
  • Analyzing the competition
  • People Also Ask section on Google
  • Discussion boards and forums
  • And much more

Final Thoughts

That was your complete guide to understand long tail vs. short tail keywords, and how you can find them for your content. After you go through this guide, be sure to implement these strategies and find the perfect keywords for your brand.

Once you do, you will have an optimal content strategy that will benefit you for a long time. On the other hand, if you are looking for SEO experts to guide your content strategy, then you can always get in touch with The Dreams Agency.