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Long Tail Keywords Vs Short Tail: Differences & Which One Is The Best

long tail keywords vs short tail, the most common topic in the search engine optimization community. Let's see which is better and how they differ.

If you've been an active user of the internet or operating a business online, you must have heard about these two buzzwords, which are long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords. 

When it comes to digital marketing and search engine optimization, these two types of keywords are the most talked about because they play a crucial role in establishing your presence in the digital world. 

If you start your digital marketing or search engine optimization campaigns with the wrong types of keywords, you'll waste your effort and money.  

In this article, we'll dive deep to know more about long-tail keywords vs. short-tail, the differences, and the other types of keywords. 

What Is Keyword?

You might already know what a keyword is, but let's get a refresher. 

A keyword is a word or phrase that helps the searcher to find a piece of specific information or products on the internet. That means if you have a website that includes certain types of keywords, and when people search for that keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they discover your or others' website and blog posts related to that word or phrase.

What Are The Different Types Of Keywords?

The number of keyword types has also increased along with the expansion of digital marketing and search engine optimization practices. Now there are various types of keywords available, and depending on your niche, you can target any of those keywords to rank on search engines. 

Let's see some of the common and mostly used keywords type: 

1) Short-Tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords are keywords that are only a single word. An example of a short-tail keyword would be 'cars'. These keywords have a high search volume but also a high competition level. 

They are usually used by people who are looking for general information or browsing different options.

2) Mid-Tail Keywords

Keywords that have two to three words are called mid-tail keywords. For instance, the word 'used cars California' is a mid-tail keyword. These keywords have a moderate search volume and competition level after short-tail keywords. 

People who have a more specific idea of what they want but still need some guidance or comparison especially search with mid-tail keywords.

3) Long-Tail Keywords

Keywords that have at least four or more words are known as long-tail keywords. These keywords have a low search volume but also a low competition level making it easier for new businesses or companies willing to start content marketing to rank easily. 

Primarily people who are ready to take action, such as making a purchase or want to know specific information search with long-tail keywords. An example would be 'used cars under $10k near me'.

4) Informational Keywords

Keywords that help a person to find information about a product, topic, business, etc., in detail are known as informational keywords. Information keywords usually start with words like " what, " " how, " "why, " " when, "Is," etc. 

For example, 'How many jobs are available in EDP services.' These keywords have a high conversion potential because they indicate that the user is interested in learning more about these types of information

5) Navigational Keywords

Keywords that help find specific brand names, domain names, product specifications, prices, or page titles. An example of a navigational keyword is 'Royal Recruiter's blog page.' 

These keywords have a low conversion potential because they indicate that the user already knows where they want to go and what they want to do.

6) Commercial Keywords

Keywords that help customers to compare different products, find services or brands are commercial keywords. They usually include words like 'best,' 'top,' 'review,' 'comparison', etc. 

For example, "best keyword research services" is a commercial keyword; here, the person is looking for niche keyword research service agencies. These keywords have a high conversion potential because they indicate that the user is in the consideration stage of their buyer journey and is looking for options.

7) Transactional Keywords

As the name suggests, transactional keywords indicate a person is going to take action, such as buying something online, taking services, booking an appointment, etc.

Phrases like 'buy', 'order', 'book', 'sign up' etc are transactional keywords. An example would be 'buy iPhone 14 online'.These keywords have a very high conversion potential because they indicate that the user is in the decision stage of their buying journey. 

Long Tail Keywords Vs. Short Tail, Which One To Use? 

In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), the main keywords are short-tail and long-tail. They play a vital role in determining a website's visibility and ranking on search engines like Google. 

And one of the most asked queries is long-tail or short-tail. Which one to use? 

Now let's explore the differences between long-tail vs short-tail keywords in more detail:

Search Volume: Short-tail keywords have the highest search volumes and are searched by a large number of people. Long-tail keywords have lower search volumes but are more specific and targeted.

Competition: In terms of competitiveness, short-tail keywords are highly competitive, making it difficult for a new website to rank for them. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are less competitive and easier to rank. Long-tail keywords are suitable for all types of search engine optimization and advertising campaigns.

Conversion Rate: Long-tail keywords have a higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords. This is because people searching for long-tail keywords usually look for specific information or products and are more likely to convert into customers.

Cost: When it comes to pay-per-click or click-per-cost and other advertising campaigns, short-tail keywords are expensive compared to long-tail keywords because almost every company, from small to giant, tries to bid for short-tail keywords to get more leads and traffic. 

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are cheaper to bid on and can provide a better return on investment.

So, when should you use long-tail keywords, and when should you use short-tail keywords?

There is no specific answer to this question because there's no restriction on which types of keywords one can use. But, there is some standard, according to industry experts. 

For example, if you have just launched a new website or operate a small business, it is advisable to focus on long-tail keywords and avoid short-tail keywords initially. 

As long-tail keywords are less competitive and can help you build a strong online presence within a short time. Also, long-tail keywords are useful for targeting specific audiences and can help you attract qualified leads to your website.

On the other hand, if you have an established website and a large size business, you can consider short-tail keywords to drive more traffic to your website. However, you must consider a few factors when choosing between long-tail keywords vs short-tail, such as your budget, expected return on investment, campaign time, etc.

Best Tool For Long-Tail And Short-Tail Keyword Research

Currently, there are many keyword research and keyword monitoring tools available that will do the long-tail and short-tail keyword research for you. 

Some of the best tools for long-tail and short-tail keyword research are:


  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush
  • Moz 

These three are considered the best keyword monitoring and keyword research tools not only for long-tail and short-tail keyword research but you can also do competitor analysis, backlink check and build guidelines, keyword rank checker, and other tools. 

For subscriptions, the basic plan for Ahrefs and Moz is $99 each month, and for Semrush, it's $119.95. However, you can create Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush free accounts to try their features. 


  • Google Keyword Planner

There's a good tool that is often used as Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush alternative, that is Google Keyword planner. Even though the features Google keyword planner offers are limited, they can also contribute to finding great keywords and launching effective pay-per-click campaigns. 

However, it doesn't matter whether you use paid or free keyword research tools for long-tail keywords or short-tail keywords. There's a drawback to using both types of tools, which is difficult to use. 

Keyword research is a challenging task, for an individual, it could take a long time to master all the features of keyword research tools, and it won't guarantee that the campaigns or researched keywords will help them to get the expected outcome. 

For better results and to find the best keywords, you can consider taking help from keyword research services agencies. And when it comes to keyword research service agencies, WpSocket is one of the best equipped with expert keyword researchers; our expert team will help you find the best niche keyword for your business, which will help you reach your goal and better ROI from your PPC and other campaigns. 

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