As you craft your SEO strategy, it’s important to consider all stages of the user funnel and ensure that your website ranks well to convert those clients.
Short-tail keywords are great for targeting clients at the top of the funnel and driving high amounts of organic traffic to your website.
Read our latest article to learn what short tail keywords are, why you should be using them, and how to perform keyword research to find them for your site.
Short tail keywords are search phrases that consist of 1-3 words. These types of keywords are broad in focus: an example of a short tail keyword would be “SEO” or “Cars”.
Short tail keywords can also be used as a "seed" that you may use to locate a few longer search term variants. Other names for short tail keywords include:
They also typically have larger search volumes and higher competition because everyone is searching for these types of phrases at the beginning of their user journeys.
Like I mentioned before, short tail keywords have the highest search volumes, so if you can rank for these head phrases, you can drive significant amounts of organic traffic to your website.
in a study by Raven Tools, 10,000 keywords make up nearly 20% of all searches, despite there being millions of keywords that are frequently searched on the web.
Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing.
Despite there being a lot of potential through targeting short tail keywords, there are some downsides that you should be aware of.
Short tail keywords are highly competitive to rank for - if your website or brand isn’t one of the most authoritative in your niche, it can be extremely difficult to rank well when targeting short tail phrases.
There’s a direct correlation with the number of words in a phrase - the more words there are, the less volume there is, but there’s also less competition so you have a higher likelihood to rank at the cost of less organic traffic being driven for your website.
Head terms are also broad - as a result, even if you rank well for these types of phrases, they don’t always guarantee conversions despite a large amount of traffic being driven to your website.
Having said that, it’s important to have a mix of long tail and short tail keywords in your content to maximize the ranking potential of your website pages.
Here are a few examples of what short tail keywords can look like:
Let’s start with SEO keywords. An example of a short tail keyword could be:
These are all short in length, highly competitive, and drive a lot of search volume. Compare this with a few long tail keywords:
These types of phrases are more specific and drive less search volume, but are more likely to convert a user as they’re looking to perform specific things for their websites.
Next, let’s move onto automotive keywords that are short-tail:
And now let’s look at some long tail variants:
Lastly, we’ll look at mortgage short tail keywords:
And here are a few long-tail phrases for our mortgage seed term:
Now that we’ve looked at both short tail and long tail keywords, you may be wondering what the difference is between long tail and short tail terms, which we’ll cover below.
The easiest way to find short tail keywords is to envision the types of keywords that capture your niche/industry. For example, a head term for my website would be “SEO.” For a real estate agent, their head term would be “real estate.”
Come up with a list of possible terms - once you’ve jotted them down, you can plug them into a keyword research tool such as Keysearch, SEMRush, or Ubersuggest to see what the search volume is for those terms.
You can also perform competitor research as well - enter their URL into one of the keyword research tools that I mentioned above. You should be able to filter the keywords your competitors rank for by word count - pull a list of their ranked keywords and you’ll have another opportunity to identify a bulk amount of short tail phrases that you can then try to optimize your website for.
After identifying your short tail keywords, the next step is to ideate long tail keywords for your ranking strategy. Read our latest guide for a deeper dive into what long tail keywords are and how to find them for your website.