Long Tail Keywords or Short Tail Keywords – Which Is Better For Your Website?

In the regular short tail vs long tail keywords showdowns, sometimes, the former is the winner and at other times the latter. These two types of keywords are different in the sense that short tail keywords have fewer words like ‘water rafting’ while long tail keywords usually have four or more words and are more specific like ‘white water rafting in Zambezi River’.

It is easy to see that the short tail keywords will get you a lot of traffic because they are less specific. They can help you reach out to a larger audience and target more people, but it does not warrant quality visitors. Long tail keywords on the other hand can be good for targeting users who are actually interested in your website’s offerings. It is best to strike a balance between the two and make sure that your website utilizes the best of both worlds to ensure steady traffic and a notable amount of conversion.


The cost of using short tail keywords are relatively higher because the generic terms are usually used by many other brands to promote their website as well. Cost per click will be lower for long tail keywords because fewer brands may be targeting the specific audience that you are targeting. Bigger brands may find the short tail keywords to be good for them because they can attract larger audiences and they can afford the higher costs, but for smaller businesses that are running PPC campaigns, long tail keywords can be very profitable especially because they help the brand target the right customers with lower costs on advertising.


The volume of traffic will always be higher for short tail keywords because they are usually more generic. There is a higher chance that a person may begin his search with a short tail keyword before he begins to refine the search and get more specific. This is why short tail keywords will bring a lot of visitors to your website, but what it does not warrant is the quality of your visitors. While you may be able to drive the volume, you will not be able to control the quality of visitors especially if you are focused on customers who will buy your product or service and ones that will lead to a conversion.

Website Rankings

Now imagine your chances of ranking high when you use generic or short tail keywords in comparison to more specific ones. There is no doubt that you may not be able to make it to the first page of Google Search if you were going to use short tail keywords only. To do it, you will have to spend a substantial amount on advertising campaigns and you must invest a lot of time in ensuring that you have attractive content that will have users pick your website over your competitors.

With long tail keywords, you do not have to work up so much of sweat trying to rank high. With good content and the right use of long tail keywords, you will be able to rank higher on organic Google searches more easily. So low tail keywords can be good for internationally recognized companies that are already popular among the visitors but if you are a small business entity trying to garner the attention of your audience by increasing your internet visibility, then high tail keywords can be helpful.

Targeted Customers

Your audience can also help you determine what kind of keywords you should use more. International brands that have a larger geographical footprint can pick short tail keywords and still make their way up the Google Searches, but if your targeted customers are in a specific location or then long tail keywords will increase your chances of being seen by your targeted customers.

The focus with short tail keywords can be lost because a person searching for pet supplies on Google Search is not specific about which animal the supplies are for or if they are looking for a specific brand. When they get more specific like Pedigree for cat in New York then the focus is clear and the chances of this customer buying food online from a store that delivers to their address is high.


The Return on Investment is one of the most fundamental aspects of every marketing campaign. No matter how small or big the campaign is, in the end of the day you may want to find out what your ROI turned out to be. The same applies for keywords too. Your website content and the SEO work usually targets a certain ROI. When it comes to the short tail vs long tail battle for keywords, then the long tail keywords almost unanimously outweigh the short tail keywords.

This is because with a short tail keyword you may notice a high number of searches and lots of clicks too, but the conversion may be less because the visitors may just be gathering information or looking for something else when they chanced upon your website. On the other hand long tail keywords have fewer searches and lower clicks, but those who come through to your website are actually interested in your website’s offerings and have a higher chance of conversion. So if a good ROI is your objective then make sure you use long tail keywords in your website.

Short Tail vs Long Tail – which is better?

While both have their own pros, short tail keywords are good for heavy traffic but long tail keywords are the ones that actually help you gain more customers. Every brand wants to have a growing business with a large audience. All of us want to save on marketing costs and increase profits. For large brands who are already popular a short tail keyword may work and it won’t be difficult for them to break through the website rankings but if you are a brand that is aiming at higher conversions, lower cost and less competition then long tail keywords will help you get there.

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