Short Tail Keywords vs Long Tail Keywords – which to use for SEO ?

Here’s an example of a short tail keyword; local advertising.

Short tail keywords are typically the popular keywords with one, two or three word search queries having the highest search volume in a topic.

Also known as head terms they usually have the greatest search volume but are also the hardest terms to rank in Google for.

How to do short-tail keyword research

Using Ahrefs you can filter a specific keyword by the number of words.

I’ve used advertising as the short tail keyword.

  • There’s 116,864 phrase match keywords that include “advertising”
  • There are 12,857 keywords containing 1 or 2 word keywords.
  • There are 103,997 keywords containing 3 or more words.

So if “local advertising” were the short tail keyword, what’s the long tail keyword ?

The long tail keyword that I initially targeted when I created my page was

how to advertise my business locally

This long tail keyword has 6 words in the query.

Short Tail Keywords versus Long Tail Keywords

Here’s a quick comparison of short tail versus long tail keywords.


Short Tail KeywordsLong Tail Keywords
Search VolumeHigherLower
Keyword DifficultyHarderEasier
Clicks from searchesHigherLower
CTRLowerHigher
ConversionLowerHigher

Ideally, when doing your research you should identify both short tail keywords, medium tail keywords and long-tail keywords as part of your content marketing strategy for your target audience.

By only targeting short tail keywords may be a primary reason your website doesn’t get the organic traffic you think it deserves.