Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords

There are always questions about whether or not long tail or short tail keywords are the best.  I believe they both have their benefits depending on an individual’s skill in targeting traffic or the niche they are in.

An example of short tail keywords would be “social networking” while long tail keywords would be “social networking for businesses.”  As you can see from the examples the short tail keywords probably have many more searches than the long tail keyword.  However, that being said, with more searches comes more competition.

If one is an expert in traffic generation they could use short tail keywords, however, it would take quite a bit of work to beat the competition.  With a long tail keyword you narrow your niche, have less competition and a have a better chance of getting easier traffic.  With long tail keywords you also have a better conversion rate with regards to sales, etc.

There are drawbacks, however, to using a long tail keyword.  One drawback is that you may narrow your audience too much.  You may rank on the first page of Google, but because of the lower search numbers your traffic will also be low.

I have experienced both the benefits and drawbacks of long tail keywords.  I have found that some niche sites pop right on the first page of Google which is great, but then the site gets no or very few hits.  This leads to the extra work of having to target similar keywords in order to get traffic to that site.

I have also experienced the benefits and drawbacks of short tail keywords.  What I have found from those sites is that although they do not rank on Google right away, with enough hard work they get more traffic than my long tail keywords.

I have read many different opinions on which is better and as I said above I believe they both have their benefits and drawbacks.  What’s Your Opinion?

8 Replies to “Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords”

  1. I guess it depends how specific the keyword is you’re trying to capture. If you are a sports team and you’re hoping to rank for the term “sports team,” good luck, but if you were to use a much more specific long tail keyword, such as, “sports team in Wallaceburg Ontario,” you might have a chance. Plus, the visitors you do get, are more likely to stick around and convert, otherwise, they wouldn’t have used such a specific search term.

    It’s true though, short tail vs. long tail is one of those age old debates. Love the blog!
    .-= Chantielle – CIK Marketing´s last blog ..Benefits of Posting Video Content to Your Website =-.

  2. Thanks for stopping Chantielle! I am in agreement with you, I guess it does depend on the situation.

  3. I think you have to have some kind of mix of the two. Almost naturally, we all have short tail keywords built into our content, so that part is covered. Trying to figure out the long tail keywords is a bit harder. And even then, you still might not find an audience. I optimized my wife’s site for a long tail keyword that has her at #1, but it turns out not to be something searched for all that often. Oh well… 🙂
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..How Influential Are You Online =-.

  4. Hi Mitch! You are definitely right a good medium is required I believe. I have run into your wife’s problem with some of my sites which gives me a bigs head up in doing better keyword research. Thanks for popping by!

  5. Thanks for asking for our opinions. I like dishing out my two cents.

    I am a firm believer in the long tail. It has been my experience that the longer the keyword is, the better the traffic converts into either sales of an affiliate product or clicks on advertising. So, even though you aren’t going to get lots of traffic, you are going to get high CTR which equates to high profit margins.

    Which would you rather have; one hundred people who visit without converting or one lonely visitor who earns you money? I think the answer is obvious. And, that my friend is why I love the long tail.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..The Real Money In Freelance Writing Comes From Promoting Your Own Niche Websites =-.

  6. Hi Jenny,

    I like Newru, great word 🙂 Your right there is a lot of differing opinions.

    I have a question.

    If I was to target “social networking for businesses” as a long tail, for the easier ranking, wouldn’t I also rank for “social networking”, and “networking for business” for that matter ?

    I guess my question is, can you go for the long tail, and still get the benefits of the short tail, at the same time ?

    I hope that makes sense 🙂


  7. Hi Neil

    I guess my simple answer to that is yes you could rank for social networking but from my experience the long tail keyword would not be enough to give you a good ranking, using quality LSI keywords could get you there.

    This is just from my experience however, and usually I may rank for other keywords but not highly unless I have like I said used the LSI keywords. Hope that makes sense thank for stopping by!

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