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Short or long tail keywords? Which should you use?

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Short-tail or long-tail keywords? Which should you use?

Keywords play an important role in search engine optimization (SEO). They help position your website in search results and generate more traffic. There are different types of keywords, including short-tail, long-tail and one-word keywords. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these types of keywords and which type of keyword you should use.

Short-Tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords, also known as "head keywords," consist of one or two words. They are often more general and broad than long-tail keywords, which consist of three or more words and are more specific.

Short-tail keywords usually have a higher search volume because many people search for them. However, competition for short-tail keywords is also often higher, as many websites compete for users' attention.

An example with "shoes

An example of a short-tail keyword is "shoes". This term is very general and can include different types of shoes. An example of a long-tail keyword would be "red women's hiking shoes". This term is more specific and is likely to attract only users who are looking for that particular product.

An example with "Pizza

Another example of a short-tail keyword would be "pizza". Again, this is a very general term that could cover many different types of pizza, such as margherita, pepperoni, veggie, etc. Since it is a broad search term, it can be difficult to rank high in search engines because many websites compete for users' attention and are optimized for this search term. Therefore, it is important to consider the competition for this keyword and possibly identify more specific long-tail keywords that better reflect the interest of your target audience. For example, you might try optimizing for "vegetarian pizza" if you own a vegetarian restaurant, or "pizza delivery near me" if you are a pizza delivery service.

It's important to note that while short-tail keywords can have a higher search volume, they are also more difficult to optimize for because they can rank lower in search engine results. So if you're trying to drive traffic to your website, you should consider both short-tail and long-tail keywords and develop a strategy that takes both types of keywords into account.

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords consist of three or more words and are more specific than short-tail keywords, which consist of only one or two words.

Long-tail keywords target a specific niche or audience and are often less competitive than short-tail keywords. As a result, websites optimized for long-tail keywords can potentially achieve higher rankings in search engine results and drive more qualified traffic to their website.

Read also our article: How do you find the right niche for your blog?

An example

An example of a long-tail keyword is "red women's hiking boots". This search term is very specific and targets people who are looking for this exact product. It is unlikely that this search term will be searched for by a large number of people, but those who search for it are likely to make a purchase.

Long-tail keywords can also be useful for creating content that is tailored to the needs and interests of a specific audience. For example, you could create a blog post about "the best vegan restaurants in Berlin" to target people looking for vegan options in Berlin.

Overall, long-tail keywords are an important part of any SEO strategy and can help drive traffic to a website by targeting specific audiences.

What kind of keyword should you use?

The use of short-tail or long-tail keywords depends on your goals. Both types of keywords have advantages and disadvantages and can be useful in different situations.

Short-tail keywords often have higher search volume, but they are also more competitive and harder to optimize for. If you're starting a new business or creating a new website, it can be difficult to compete with established businesses using short-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are more specific and target a particular niche or audience. Although they may have lower search volume than short-tail keywords, they can still drive qualified traffic to your website that is more likely to convert. Long-tail keywords are often less competitive, which can make it easier to rank in search engine results.

In general, SEO experts recommend incorporating both short-tail and long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy to get the best of both worlds. You could try driving traffic to your website with short-tail keywords and then use long-tail keywords to create more specific content to target a specific audience.

Ultimately, choosing the right keywords depends on your specific goals and target audience. Comprehensive keyword research and analysis can help identify the most appropriate keywords for your situation.


In summary, it is important to have a well thought out strategy when using keywords. Short-tail keywords have a higher search volume, but are more competitive. Long-tail keywords are more specific and have lower competition. One-word keywords are very general, have high search volume and high competition. Tailor your keyword strategy to your specific goals and needs.

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Silvio Mazenauer

For more than 20 years, I've been helping our customers get up to speed with web hosting, domains, websites or cPanel. And I'm here to help you too.

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