Long Tail Versus Short Tail Keywords – Which Should You Use and Why

long tail vs short tail keywords

Both long tail and short tail keywords can play an essential role in an Internet-based marketing strategy. Businesses that fail to understand the different advantages each option is able to provide are far more likely to find themselves selecting the wrong tool for the job. Learning more about long tail vs short tail keywords, and how different options may be employed in order to optimize site traffic or allow businesses to rank higher in a search return, is often essential. Ensuring online advertising efforts and digital marketing strategies are able to be as effective and successful as possible is not a matter that should be left to chance.

Long Tail Keywords


More than 70 percent of all Internet searches use more than five words, and long tail keywords can be very useful when used en masse. SEO and PPC campaigns that utilize hundreds or even thousands of long tail keywords can make a dramatic impact on site traffic. Long tail keywords allow businesses to target more specific demographics and ensure that their business is more likely to be noticed by the potential customers and future clients who are most in the need of their services or products.


The overly specific nature of long tail keywords means that they are less likely to provide the increase site traffic that shorter and more general terms may provide.

Short Tail Keywords


Short generalized terms are a more effective tool for driving higher volumes of traffic to a specific website. Businesses that are able to rank using high-volume generic terms can enjoy far greater exposure, brand-recognition and attract the interest of greater numbers of potential customers. Short tail keywords often play a key role in the efforts of any business seeking to establish themselves in today’s increasingly crowded marketplace.


While generic terms may significantly increase site traffic, the more generalized nature of these keywords means that a larger portion of this traffic will be made up of the wrong types of customers. Overuse of short tail keywords can lead to traffic volume that can place strain on a site without producing the ratio of leads and new business opportunities organizations may require.

Selecting Keywords Better Suited to a Specific Marketing Strategy

Which type of keyword to use depends almost entirely on the type of traffic businesses wish to drive to their website. Newer organizations whose priority is to establish themselves may be better served with strategies that rely more heavily on short tail keywords in order to bolster initial traffic and exposure. Smaller businesses that may have limited resources often elect to use long tail keywords that offer less traffic but a greater conversion rate, an effective strategy for niche marketing. For most businesses, SEO and PPC options that make use of both long and short tail keywords are needed in order to ensure effective results.

Rejuvenating an Existing Site

For raw numbers and greater volume of inbound traffic, there is no debate regarding long tail vs short tail keywords. SEO and PPC marketing methods that utilize short, generalized terms can be a key asset for existing businesses attempting to address falling site traffic, lower sales figures or declining interest from within their existing customer base. Established businesses that have the digital and marketing infrastructure needed to both accommodate and capitalize on higher volumes of site traffic may find a short-tail keyword strategy is able to provide them with superior results.

Short tail keyword strategies may create a ripple effect when more site traffic allows businesses to rank higher in search returns, which in turn leads to an even greater increase in traffic volume. While smaller businesses may find the greater cost and lower conversion rate of short tail keywords to be a significant drawback, larger businesses and established organizations can more easily capitalize on the potential benefits of this powerful marketing tool.

Long Tail Keywords and Target-Specific Marketing

While smaller businesses and new startups often lack the funds needed to enjoy the full benefits of tail keyword marketing efforts, they may also be better served by targeting more specific demographics. The more detailed nature of long tail keywords may mean less exposure, but such efforts offer higher conversion rates and a greater return of investment. Concerns such as a site’s ability to handle an influx of new traffic can also be an issue for smaller businesses.

Mass marketing efforts are often seen as little more than a nuisance by those who have little need or interest in what a business may have to offer and wasting money on a marketing strategy that may only be alienating potential customers can be nothing short of a disaster for small businesses. Long tail keywords are ideal for crafting a more focused and target-specific marketing campaign.

Finding the Right Balance Between Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

Businesses are not required to limit themselves to only one option, and most organizations will be better served by using a mixed strategy that contains the right blend of general terms and specific keywords. Finding the right balance often require a little experimentation and businesses that possess a better understanding of long tail vs short tail keywords will be far more likely to create an online advertising strategy better suited to their specific needs. From optimizing inbound site traffic to attracting and acquiring new clientele with greater ease and success, it pays to select the right tool for the job.

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