A Side-by-Side Comparison of Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

When executing on-page SEO, keywords play a major role in determining the future success or failure of your search engine optimization efforts. There is no straight answer as to which one is better than the other. So, it is important to research widely before settling on either of the two. One question that always comes up while searching for keywords is:

“Between the two types, which is the better option”

A heated debate often takes place on this, and the end result is something you should familiarize yourself with as an online marketer. Before that, let us first see what is the difference between either of them.

What Is the Difference between The Two Types of keywords?

Short Tail Keywords

Composed of a maximum of three words, examples of keywords in this category are “engagement ring”, “sports gear” and “home based jobs”. They are also referred to as the “Head” term. They can also be the first thing that comes to

your mind when you are thinking of a place to have a meal (Fast foods, Pizza delivery), an activity to take part in (dance clubs, swimming lessons) and a place to worship (Mosque, Pentecostal Church).

Long Tail Keywords

The keywords in this category are somewhat different from the former. They are composed of more than basic three words, and as such are relatively more targeted and not as wide. The amount of search traffic that you get from these keywords may, therefore, not be as high as the first type, but the traffic that you get is precisely the kind you are targeting.

Examples include “Genuine Gold Engagement ring”, “Summer Men’s sports attire”, and “Lose weight quick” food supplements. Evidently, this type of keywords tends to be a lot more precise compared to the other type. Note that this attribute can help you attain your goals’ faster, as a promoter. However, the types have their fair share of both advantages and disadvantages.

Long Tail Versus Short Tail Keywords

The type that you should use in your marketing endeavors depends mainly on the nature of the traffic you wish to direct to your website. It has been experimentally established that the longer the keyword the lower the search volumes. Despite this finding, all the other metrics like conversion rates, are high when you use long tail KW.

A) Short Tail Keywords

These KWs have many advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if your aim is to drive more traffic to your website, short tail KWs are ideal for you. The reason is if you just launched your site and as such is new to search engines, and you are marketing efforts are just starting, your content lies at the furthest bottom end of search engine results.

01. The Volume of Traffic: High

Concerning traffic volume, the short tail KWs is by far more superior to the long tail keyword. Search volume is inversely proportional to the length of the keyword. So, if you can rank for this type of keywords, you will definitely get a large volume of organic traffic.

02. Level of Competition: High

Due to the fact that, short tail KWs tend to have high search volumes, many people are trying their level best to rank for this type of keyword. The benefits are many. Consequently, competition for this category of the keyword is extremely high.

We conducted a search for the keyword Pizza and our results showed that for this term, you will have to compete with many internationally recognized brands like Dominos, Pizza Pizza and Papa Johns besides several ranking websites, regional searches and so forth.

The implication of this scenario is unless your business is prominent at a globally, it will be very hard for you to rank favorably on search engine results.

03. Focus: Low

Another disadvantage is your search will not be adequately Targeted. An individual searching for Motor could possibly be searching for a Motor repairer, or a company that rents out the device, examples of machines that use the component, comparison of different types or any other related Information. You are, therefore, competing with world-renowned manufacturers to emerge on top of Google results, when you search the gadget.

04. Cost: Requires a Lot of Money

Short tail KWs require you to spend a lot of your hard earned cash. Google AdWords charge a lot of money to execute a short tail keyword in your marketing campaign for common search terms. As many people are bidding for the keywords, you will have to part with a premium sum to earn a spot on the

searches for a considerable duration of time.

05. The Rate of Conversation: Low

The characteristic low conversion rate tends to displease many potential users of short tail keywords. Take an example of a situation in which you are using a term that many people are searching for. Even if you manage 10,000 searches and 100 clicks, your ultimate conversation rate can just be two customers.

The few customers will also definitely seem like a favorable reward for your Efforts, but the truth of the hour is that you can have a bigger reward and less hassle when you choose to use long-tail KWs instead.

B) Long Tail Keywords

These keywords can be compared to a bear lying in the forest. Even though they can remain dormant for some time when rightly used they are normally more effective. Similar to our analogy of the bear and as we are going to learn shortly, these keyword types do not face direct competition from anything else.

01. The Volume of Traffic: Low

With this keyword, the volume of traffic is of primary concern. The traffic volume you will get from long this category of keywords is far less. Some businesses may not be able to cope with this attribute.

Nevertheless, if you’re selling a line of products and would like to meet the needs of a particular market group, your primary aim isn’t a large number of people who merely stare at your product hence jamming your virtual store.

02. Level of Competition: Low

Another advantage is, competition is lower when using the long tail keyword. Take an example of a keyword term like RV camper Power Cable Cover, you will only get relevant traffic. So, if you offer the product it is highly unlikely that there is another individual selling the same in your locality. The search will, therefore, be geared towards the product you are offering and the competition will be low for this particular traffic.

03. Focus: High

Since the resulting search traffic is targeted, if your business is dealing with specific products, the level of focus is great. You only have the people who are searching for the exact things you are selling visiting your store. You will meet with customers who are actually searching for your business.

04. Cost: Low

Another striking benefit of the long-tailed KWs is reduced cost. Google AdWords pertaining to specific searches (containing many terms) has a low price. Consequently, even though you will not show up high in search engine results (until you become a prominent name in your niche) you will need a smaller amount of money to get right there.

05. The Rate of Conversation: High

Long tail keywords realize high conversion rates. If people are searching for your specific items, converting them into buyers is a lot easier. Of course, your conversion numbers will depend on the nature of your product and your locality but the rate is very high compared to those of short tail keywords.


To summarize this article long tail KWs happen to be the best choice, for good reasons.

Eventually, you must do what is good for you as an entrepreneur and your growing business. Obviously, your aim is to spend less and acquire the largest possible web presence.

On the contrary, you must remember that the aim of having a huge web presence is not to have people merely clicking to your website and being unhappy about the results put across by the search engines. You want them to spend money.

Making your customers to come over and try your business is crucial. To increase conversion and close sales you should direct traffic to your particular widget.

In the present era of online searches, it is very difficult to rank high when using short tail KWs. Additionally, the smaller and younger your company is, the tougher it is to rank for the keywords.

So, if short tail keyword competition is not a game you stand a chance of winning why even attempt?

If you have large amounts of content, a specific yet general item or a solid brand and impressive domain authority, then chances are short tail KWs are perfect for you.

Otherwise, if your aim is to get a high conversion rate, low completion, low cost and low volume (specifically looking for the item you are selling) long tail KWs will work for you.


Author Bio

Sam MakwanaSam Makwana is VP Marketing at Traffic Radius, He is a passionate digital marketer with a creative and analytical mindset. His skill lies in adopting a holistic approach and designing SEO solutions based on the latest marketing trends and web paradigms.

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