SEO: Long-Tail Keywords vs. Short-Tail Keywords
What is an SEO Keyword?
Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they're the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called "search queries." If you boil everything on your page — all the images, video, copy, etc. — down to simple words and phrases, those are your primary keywords.
As a website owner and content creator, you want the keywords on your page to be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your content among the results.
What Are Short-Tail & Long-Tail Keywords?
Singular keywords (short-tail keywords) might appear to be your ultimate goal as they often have a temptingly high search volume. However, they usually have extremely tough competition.
You may want your boutique clothing store to rank for "clothes," but it's going to be tough to rank above Zara and Uniqlo.
On top of that strong competition, singular keywords can be infuriatingly vague. If someone is searching for a "dog," you don't know if they want a list of dog breeds, information about dog food, a place to buy a dog collar or just a site with cute photos of dogs.
Long-tail keywords usually have more clearly defined intent. For example, "best organic dog food for a puppy," or "inexpensive dog walkers Seattle."
You'll also find that long-tail keywords have less competition, with room for a smaller site to break in and make their mark on the SERPs.
What is the difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords?
So to summarise, the key difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords is that short-tail keywords have higher search volume, are more generic and competitive, and generally yield lower conversion rates.
Whereas, long-tail keywords tend to have lower search volume, are more specific, can be less competitive, and, typically, have higher conversion rates. In fact, long-tail keyword searches have a 3-5% higher click-through rate!
Should I be using long-tail or short-tail keywords?
As a business, you need to decide which terms are most relevant to your website and your ideal customer. After all, you know your business better than anyone.
However, when it comes to actually developing your keyword strategy and choosing the right long and short-term keywords, we always recommend getting the experts involved.
Our SEO specialists can help you navigate the ever-changing search landscape and identify attainable keywords with the potential to rank, stripping out any unrealistic or irrelevant keywords. An effective keyword strategy can set you up for long-term success.