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Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords

How are Long Tail Keywords Different From Short Tail Keywords?

Saket Mittal

Have you ever wondered how people find your website? Keywords are the secret sauce, connecting searchers to what you offer. They help search engines understand & connect your content with the right audience.

When Google's crawler examines a webpage, it looks at the keywords used in the content, meta tags, titles, and headings. It checks the relevancy & usefulness of these keywords to the user's query and then ranks the page accordingly. These keywords help them understand what your content is about.

But throwing in random keywords won't do the trick. The key to success is a sensible blend of short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords are broad, attracting high search volumes, whereas long-tail keywords are specific & targeted, drawing in searchers who are more likely to convert. By balancing these keywords, you can optimize both reach & relevance, ultimately boosting your website's SEO performance.

In this blog, we will learn more about long tail vs short tail keywords & how to use them for enhanced website visibility strategically. Read on to discover how to make the most of long-tail and short-tail keywords for a winning SEO game plan.

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What are Short Tail Keywords?

Short tail keywords, or head terms, are search phrases typically consisting of one or two words. For example, if you're running a real estate business, your short tail keywords might include terms like "Real Estate" or "Houses."

These keywords get their name, 'short,' not just based on their length but due to their placement on the search demand curve. They're located at the head of the curve, indicating a high search volume.

Search Demand Curve
Search Demand Curve

Despite their high search volume, short-tail keywords face high competition. Since these phrases are broad & generic, they are highly contested among businesses, making it challenging to rank on top of search engine results.

Google has always been focused on providing users with the most relevant & high-quality search results.

Google, while ranking websites, emphasizes relevance & authority. By their broad nature, short tail keywords can often lead to lower relevance, impacting ranking. Google still values the use of short tail keywords when they are used judiciously and in context. This is because they can encapsulate the broader scope of a webpage’s content.

However, these keywords are unsuitable for all businesses, especially those with a niche market or small-scale operations. Businesses with unique offerings might benefit more from using more specific long-tail keywords, thus attracting a targeted audience.

Striking a balance between the two is key to maximizing visibility & relevance in search engine results.

Pros & Cons of Short Tail Keywords

Pros of Short Tail Keywords Cons of Short Tail Keywords
High Volume of Traffic High Competition
Higher Click-Through Rates Low Conversion Rates
Easy to Remember and Type Expensive Ads
High Brand Awareness Low Relevancy
Broad Audience Reach Low Search Intent

What are Long Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are terms that are more specific & longer than short tail keywords. They are named “long-tail” based on the concept of the long tail distribution in statistics - where many occurrences are far from the central part. This principle applies to keywords: few are highly competitive, while most are less competitive.

They are different from short-tail keywords in the specificity & competition.

Short-tail keywords are more general, usually 1-2 words, and hence, face high competition in search engine results. For example, a short-tail keyword might be "coffee beans," while a long-tail keyword could be "organic fair trade coffee beans."

Learn more about long tail keywords here.

Why Should You Use Long Tail Keywords?

Long tail keywords often correlate with more qualified traffic. People who search long-tail keywords typically know exactly what they're looking for & are more likely to convert or take the desired action on your site. On top of this, they also correlate with voice search, which is becoming increasingly popular. Users tend to use more specific phrases while using voice commands; hence, incorporating these long-tail keywords can optimize your content for voice search.

Google also loves long-tail keywords because they aim to provide users with the most relevant search results.

When a user types a long-tail keyword, Google can provide more specific results, enhancing user experience. In terms of ranking, Google considers the value your content provides to the specific user query. If your long-tail keyword is helpful & matches user intent, you can rank higher.

However, having long-tail keywords in every piece of content isn't necessary. Overusing these might dilute your content & disrupt natural flow, possibly hampering your SEO strategy. It's about balance. Strategically include long-tail keywords that can add the most value, keeping your content engaging & useful.

Pros & Cons of Long Tail Keywords

Pros of Long Tail Keywords Cons of Long Tail Keywords
Higher conversion rate Lower overall traffic
Less competitive Requires more research and time
Drives targeted organic traffic Might not always align with broad SEO strategy
Better for voice search Less topics to write about
Improved Return on investment Harder to implement in your content

What is the Difference Between Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

1. Specificity of Search Intent

The first crucial difference between long tail and short tail keywords lies in the specificity of the search intent they cater to. Short tail keywords are usually generic, broad terms often just one or two words long. For instance, "smartphones" is a short tail keyword. The user intent behind such keywords is often unclear because they are too broad & could mean numerous things.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more specific, containing three or more words. They cater to a precise search query. For example, "best android smartphones under $500" is a long-tail keyword. These keywords explain the searcher’s intent more accurately. They offer a detailed insight into what the user is trying to find, making it easier for businesses to tailor their content accordingly.

2. Search Volume and Competition

Another key difference between these two types of keywords is the number of searches made & their competition. Short tail keywords tend to be used by many people because they are broad. It also means that many businesses are trying to get their pages to show up for these searches, creating a lot of competition.

On the other hand, long tail keywords may not be searched as often because they are more specific. But the people who use them are often closer to making a purchase. Since fewer businesses are trying to rank for these more specific phrases, getting your page to appear in search results can be easier.

3. Conversion Rates

These keywords also affect how likely people are to buy something after searching online. Short tail keywords usually have lower conversion rates due to their broad nature. This is because users searching these terms are typically at the initial stages of their buying process, just seeking general information.

Conversely, long tail keywords are specific, they attract users who know exactly what they want and are closer to purchasing. Therefore, targeting long tail keywords can benefit businesses aiming to enhance their conversion rates.

4. User's Stage in the Buyer's Journey

Short tail keywords usually correspond to the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, where users seek basic information about a product or a service. They might not have a clear idea about what they want yet.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are often relevant to the decision & action stages of the buyer’s journey. At these stages, users have a clear understanding of their needs, and they are ready to make a purchase. Thus, long tail keywords indicate a user's readiness to convert, making them highly valuable for businesses focused on increasing the bottom line.

5. Content Strategy and SEO Tactics

When it comes to choosing keywords for your online content, there's an important distinction between short tail and long tail keywords. This difference goes beyond just words; it significantly impacts how you approach creating content & your overall strategy for getting noticed on SERP.

Due to their broad nature, short tail keywords require businesses to create wide-ranging, extensive content to rank well. Moreover, ranking for short tail keywords needs a robust SEO strategy involving a high volume of high-quality backlinks & a strong domain authority.

On the contrary, long tail keywords allow businesses to create more targeted, niche content. They provide an opportunity to create content for specific queries, allowing businesses to meet users' needs precisely. They are easier to rank for as they involve less competition, making them an effective way to drive organic traffic, especially for new or small-scale websites.

How to Find Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

Creating a strategic plan for identifying the right keywords begins with understanding your business & your audience's search behavior. Firstly, consider the wider aspects of your business & list general but related topics. These topics form your strategy's foundation or short-tail keywords.

Next, delve deeper into these topics, aiming to create more specific niche-related keywords to help your audience easily find your services or products.

To assist you in identifying these keywords, consider using certain free or paid online tools. These tools will provide essential data & insights about the best keywords for your brand. It helps you to enhance your strategy & ensure it aligns with your business goals and audience needs.

Free Tools for Discovering Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

Free keyword research tools are an excellent starting point, especially for businesses with limited budgets. These tools can provide valuable insights, such as a list of related keywords, their search volumes, and, in some cases, their competition levels. Let us look at the most popular free tools:

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor & troubleshoot your website's presence in Google search results. It offers detailed reports on keywords that users use to discover your website.

To find keywords using Google Search Console, go to the 'Performance' report and look at the 'Queries' section. Here, you can see a list of keyword phrases that bring users to your website.

Learn how to use Google Search Console here.

Google Keyword Planner

Another free tool from Google is the Keyword Planner. This tool can help you find new short and long-tail keywords by showing you what people are searching for related to your business or industry. It can provide keyword ideas & traffic estimates to help you build a search network campaign.

To find keywords, enter words or phrases describing your advertising, and Google will return keyword suggestions.


Quattr is an SEO platform that offers a bunch of free tools to its users. Quattr's free AI-powered keyword research tool provides insights into long- and short-tail keywords. It goes beyond simple keyword suggestions compared to other tools. It gauges potential keyword search volumes and identifies the competition for each keyword. Its deep learning technology uncovers both new & old keywords and even categorizes them based on what users intend to find.

Using Quattr is super easy. Just feed your topic or primary keyword to Quattr and set the number of keywords and clustering rule for your research. The tool will generate a list of related keywords, including their search volumes, and you can download this keyword list for your further use.

You can further use our keyword clustering tool to cluster your keywords based on semantic similarity. It can help you organize & structure your keyword research & make it easier for you to understand & categorize the keywords to target.

Paid Tools for Discovering Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

If you're looking for more advanced features & insights, then it might be worth investing in a paid tool. They often provide more comprehensive data and the ability to conduct more in-depth research.


SEMRush is a powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing. It provides features like SEO, PPC, and keyword research. For keyword research, you can use the 'Keyword Magic Tool' and 'Keyword Overview' functionality, which will give you insight into the keywords' volume, trend, and difficulty.


Ahrefs is a well-known tool used for backlinks and SEO analysis. It comes with a keyword explorer tool that provides extensive keyword data, including the keyword difficulty score and search volume. You can generate keyword ideas by typing in a word or phrase here. It will highlight the search volume for close keyword variations and help you determine the questions people are asking about your topic.

Remember, choosing the right keywords is just the start of your SEO journey. A good keyword strategy also involves incorporating these keywords effectively into your content, tracking their performance, and continually optimizing your strategy. Let us learn how to incorporate these keywords in your content strategy for SEO in the next section.

How to Balance Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords in Your Content Strategy?

Utilizing both short tail and long tail keywords in your content strategy is a crucial element to ensure success. If you lean too heavily on one, your content strategy might suffer. The key is to strike the right balance between these two types of keywords.

When balancing short-tail and long-tail keywords in your content strategy, one of the first things you should do is identify your goals. It means identifying what you want to achieve with your content and how you plan to measure success. Once you clearly understand your goals, you can start determining which keywords will be most effective in helping you achieve those goals.

Another important factor to consider when balancing short-tail and long-tail keywords is your audience. Who are you trying to reach with your content? What are their interests, needs, and pain points? By understanding your audience, you can create content that resonates with them, which they will find valuable.

It's also essential to consider your market when balancing short-tail and long-tail keywords. What are your competitors doing? What keywords are they targeting? By analyzing your market, you can identify gaps & opportunities you can capitalize on with your content.

Let us look at some best practices for using these keywords in content marketing:

1. Prioritize short-tail keywords for your main pages, categories, and topics. It will help you to rank higher for broad, competitive search terms.

2. Use long-tail keywords for your subtopics, subcategories, and blog posts. It will help you to rank higher for more specific, niche search terms and attract a more engaged and loyal audience.

3. Optimize your content for both search engines & readers. Use your short-tail and long-tail keywords naturally throughout your content, but don't overdo it. Your content should be informative, engaging, and valuable to your audience.

4. Use long-tail keywords to answer specific questions or solve specific problems. It will help to establish your authority and expertise in your niche.

5. Keep an eye on your keyword performance and adjust your strategy as needed. Monitor your rankings, traffic, and engagement metrics to ensure your content strategy works effectively.

Which is More Important: Long Tail or Short Tail Keywords?

In conclusion, there is no clear winner between long tail and short tail keywords. Both of them have their significance in SEO & content strategy. Short-tail keywords help attract a broader audience due to their general nature but face high competition. On the contrary, long-tail keywords attract more qualified traffic & have higher conversion rates but lower overall traffic due to their specificity.

The true essence lies in incorporating a harmonious mixture of both, tailored to your specific content needs & audience preferences. Manually cultivating this balance can be daunting & time-consuming. This is where Quattr is revolutionizing the process with cutting-edge AI-powered technology.

Quattr, with its AI-driven content capabilities, can be a game-changer. By identifying and facilitating the integration of short and long-tail keywords, Quattr significantly streamlines the content creation process. Its AI predictive scoring further ensures the effectiveness of the SEO strategy, saving time and enhancing the content's search engine rankings.

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Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords FAQs

How does the length of the keyword affect search intent?

The length of a keyword affects what a user is searching for. Short keywords have a wider meaning, and long ones are more specific. Short keywords are used when people are looking for general things, but long keywords are used when they have a specific need or question.

What is the role of long tail keywords in PPC campaigns?

Long-tail keywords in PPC campaigns cater to niche audiences, enhancing ad relevancy & improving conversion rates. They're less competitive, hence cheaper per click, making your budget more efficient. These detailed search terms help grasp customers' wants, allowing accurate targeting and customized ads.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using long tail and short tail keywords?

Common mistakes in using these keywords include stuffing too many into your content, using irrelevant keywords, ignoring search intent, and focusing on quantity over quality. Ensure keywords align with your content and what your audience is searching for. Prioritize targeted, relevant keywords instead of unrelated ones.

About The Author

Saket Mittal

Saket Mittal is a Marketing Analyst at Quattr and helps drive traffic to the website by improving user experience. He is a an expert Quattr platform user and takes charge in improving product experience and conversions. Saket writes about content marketing, website optimization, and expert tips on how to use Google Search Console for content SEO.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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