Short Tails or Long Tails…

Which is better?

Sorry to break it to you, but they are both important and both have merits and challenges, depending on your strategy, budget and your content!

Go back a bit guys…. I don’t even know what they are?

Ok, this is jargon if you are not in the SEO space, and most business owners aren’t, yet we are all having to learn and keep up as things change on the web at breakneck speeds, right!?


Ok, so the internet and platforms on it will always be tweaking and releasing updates, that change algorithms and the like, but fundamental in the main, will remain the same. Let’s start with the difference between the two terms.

‘Short Tail’ keywords put simply are broad terms, like single words in search terms such as ‘Marketing’. Lots of people will be searching for ‘Marketing’ online and therefore it will appear in lots of searches, so ranking for short tail words can get your page displayed in millions of searches each week, but also millions of pages of search!

Because it is ‘broad’ it is very competitive so think single word, single strand of search…imagine if you were a make-up product and you tried to rank under ‘beauty’. Having beauty as a short tail word would list you in millions of pages returned by the search engine, however, you would be competing with massive global brands in a multi-billion-dollar industry with a large web presence and huge budgets. You are effectively in a very long queue of lots of businesses using that broad term.

‘Long Tail’ keywords are made up of lengthier, more exact keywords. They give you more opportunity to target specific demographics, basically getting noticed by the right people at the right time. Long tail keywords give people who are further along their buying process, (i.e. they are searching more specifically as they understand their requirements more) a better chance of finding the specific service they are looking for. Nice one, it’s YOU!

So, a long tail example using the above short tail example with beauty could be ‘the best make-up brushes in the United Kingdom’ or for the marketing example may be ‘digital marketing companies in Bristol’.

The biggest downside to long tail keywords is you need to research what phrases and words your customers are using to search for your industry and/or your products. Free tools such as Google Trends and sites like Answer the Public give you brilliant insights into what people are typing into search engines aligned with what you think they are typing in.

So, the best approach by far is to have a strategy that combines both short tail keywords for ranking and awareness, and long tail keywords for more specific search and conversion, not forgetting that this is about ranking and being found through your keywords and content.

Remember your content has to be good enough to engage them, seduce them and convert them. Using Keywords is simply the beginning of the relationship with your customers.