October 9, 2023 Mark Acornley

What are Short Tail Keywords?

In SEO, keywords are the fundamental building blocks that bridge the gap between what users seek and what content creators provide.

These are words or phrases that encapsulate the essence of a topic, embodying the queries users type into search engines.

Keywords are the navigational beacons guiding individuals through the vast ocean of information available online.

Keywords are generally categorised in to two different  types;

  • Short Tail Keywords: Two words or less, that’s a short tail keyword
  • Long Tail Keywords: When a keyword has three words or more, these are classed as long tail keywords.


What Are Keywords?

Keywords, in their simplest form, are words or phrases that encapsulate the core idea or subject matter of a piece of content.

They signify the primary focus or theme, providing a glimpse into what readers or viewers can expect.

These terms are strategically chosen to align with what users are likely to type into a search engine when seeking information, solutions, or products related to a particular topic.

Why Keywords are Vital for a Successful SEO Strategy

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a dynamic and critical digital marketing strategy that hinges on the strategic use of keywords.

Keywords are the linchpin of SEO efforts, significantly influencing a website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results.

When implemented effectively, keywords enable a webpage to feature prominently in search results, attracting organic traffic and potential customers.

With high levels of competition, understanding the nuances of keyword selection, placement, and usage is paramount.

SEO professionals meticulously analyse and incorporate relevant keywords into various elements of a webpage, including titles, headings, content, and meta descriptions.

By doing so, they enhance a website’s chances of being discovered by individuals actively seeking information or solutions that the website offers.

In essence, keywords are the compass that guides digital content to the right audience, and mastering their usage is foundational to successful SEO strategies.

Understanding Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are succinct and brief keyword phrases, typically comprised of three words or less.

They are highly general and broad, encapsulating a vast range of search queries and topics within a few words.

These keywords often hold significant search volume due to their general nature, making them highly competitive and valuable in the world of search engine optimisation (SEO).

Short tail keywords, often referred to as “head terms” or “generic keywords,” are concise phrases that convey a broad meaning or a general topic.

These terms are characterised by their brevity, typically consisting of one to three words.

Due to their minimal length, they encompass a wide spectrum of information or products related to the topic they represent. For example, “digital camera” or “best laptops” are classic examples of short tail keywords.

Characteristics of Short Tail Keywords:

  • Broad Scope: Short tail keywords encompass a broad range of topics and variations related to the core phrase, making them versatile but less specific.
  • High Search Volume: These keywords often experience a high volume of searches, attracting a large audience. However, this also means intense competition among websites to rank for them.
  • General Intent: Users using short tail keywords are usually in the early stages of their research and have a more general or exploratory intent. They seek a broad understanding of a subject or product rather than specific details.
  • Competitive Landscape: Due to their popularity and high search volume, short tail keywords are highly competitive. Many websites vie for top positions in search results for these keywords, making it challenging to rank organically.

Advantages and Limitations of Short Tail Keywords


  • High Search Volume: Short tail keywords often receive a significant number of searches, presenting a valuable opportunity to reach a large audience and drive substantial traffic to a website.
  • Visibility and Exposure: Ranking well for a popular short tail keyword can provide heightened visibility for a website, potentially attracting a wide range of visitors.
  • Brand Awareness: Using popular short tail keywords allows businesses to increase brand awareness by reaching a broader audience and establishing a brand presence in their industry.


  • Intense Competition: Due to their high search volume, short tail keywords face intense competition, making it challenging to achieve top rankings without a robust SEO strategy.
  • Low Conversion Rates: Users searching with short tail keywords often have a general intent, leading to lower conversion rates compared to more specific, long tail keyword searches.
  • Limited Specificity: Short tail keywords lack specificity, making it difficult to precisely target a niche audience or cater to specific user needs and preferences.

Understanding the nuances of short tail keywords is essential for a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Effective Strategies for Short Tail Keyword Research:

When it comes to driving high search volume and enhancing website visibility, short tail keywords play a crucial role. To ensure effective research for these keywords, a strategic approach is essential.

Leveraging the Right Tools and Analysing Competitor Keywords: In this process, utilising the right tools and analysing competitor keywords are integral strategies.

Keyword research tools prove to be invaluable assets, aiding in the identification of relevant short tail keywords and providing insights into their search volume, competition, and potential impact.

To effectively employ these tools, the following steps are key:

  • Identifying Core Keywords: Initiate by brainstorming a list of primary keywords pertinent to your industry, product, or content. These keywords typically represent the essence of your niche.
  • Using Keyword Research Tools: Utilise reliable keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ubersuggest. Input your core keywords into these tools to generate an extensive list of related short tail keywords.
  • Analysing Metrics: Evaluate essential metrics like search volume, competition level, cost-per-click (CPC), and keyword trends. Focus on keywords that strike a balance between high search volume and manageable competition.
  • Exploring Variations and Trends: Identify variations of your core keywords and stay updated on emerging trends within your industry. It’s crucial to stay informed about evolving search patterns and adapt your short tail keywords accordingly to remain effective and relevant.

Analysing Competitor Keywords

Analysing competitor keywords is a strategic approach to understanding the landscape and gaining insights into effective short tail keywords used by competitors.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Identify Competitors: Identify your main competitors within your industry or niche. These are the websites that rank high in search results for your target keywords.
  • Analyse Competitor Content: Study the content on competitor websites. Identify the short tail keywords they are targeting in their titles, headings, and main content. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can assist in this analysis.
  • Evaluate Performance: Assess the performance of your competitors’ content that ranks for these keywords. Note the engagement, traffic, and rankings. This will help you understand the effectiveness of these keywords.
  • Identify Competitive Advantages: Learn from your competitors’ successes and shortcomings. Identify keywords that are effectively driving traffic to their websites and strategise how to implement similar approaches for your own content.

Effectively utilising keyword research tools and analysing competitor keywords are essential steps in short tail keyword research.

Optimising with Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords, with their broad appeal and high search volume, require a focused approach to optimise content effectively.

Employing best practices and addressing associated challenges is crucial for successful integration.

Strategic Placement:

  • Title and Headings: Incorporate short tail keywords naturally within the title and section headings to immediately signal the content’s relevance to search engines.
  • Early in Content: Position the primary short tail keyword near the beginning of the content to ensure its early visibility to readers and search engines.

Quality Content Creation:

  • Relevance and Value: Create high-quality content that is relevant to the short tail keyword. Address the user’s intent behind the search, providing valuable and informative material.
  • Readability: Ensure content is easy to read and digest, enhancing user experience and encouraging prolonged engagement.

Meta Description and URLs:

  • Meta Description: Include the short tail keyword in the meta description to entice users and improve click-through rates from search results.
  • URL Structure: Optimise the URL structure by integrating the short tail keyword, promoting a clear and SEO-friendly link.

Monitor and Adjust

To ensure optimal performance of your digital PR strategy, regular analysis is key.

This involves monitoring the content’s performance using short tail keywords with the help of analytical tools.

Keep a close eye on rankings, click-through rates, and engagement metrics to gather valuable insights and make informed adjustments.

Through continuous refinement based on these performance insights, you can enhance the content’s effectiveness in attracting and retaining organic traffic.

One of the significant challenges encountered in this domain is intense competition, especially concerning short tail keywords.

The vast competition often makes it challenging to secure prominent rankings in search results.

To address this, it’s advisable to broaden the focus and incorporate long-tail keywords alongside the short tail ones.

Long-tail keywords typically face less competition and can effectively drive targeted traffic to your content.

Another challenge involves the general intent and subsequent low conversion rates associated with users searching through short tail keywords.

These users tend to have a broad intent, leading to lower conversion rates.

A strategic solution is to optimise your landing pages in a way that aligns with specific products or services related to the short tail keywords.

Additionally, integrating compelling calls-to-action on these pages can encourage higher conversion rates, ultimately improving your digital PR campaign’s overall effectiveness.

Evolution of Search Algorithms

The evolution of search engine algorithms presents a significant challenge.

These constant changes can have a direct impact on keyword rankings and the overall effectiveness of digital PR strategies.

It is imperative to stay informed and updated on the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes.

By doing so, you can proactively adapt your keyword strategies, ensuring they align seamlessly with the most current SEO guidelines and best practices in the field.

To effectively optimise content using short tail keywords, a balanced and strategic approach is crucial.

It entails considering industry best practices while addressing the challenges posed by these evolving algorithms.

Adapting to the changes and implementing informed strategies will ultimately enhance the reach and impact of your digital PR efforts, ensuring your content remains visible and relevant in the ever-evolving world of search engine optimisation.

Comparing Short Tail Keywords with Long Tail Keywords

Short tail and long tail keywords serve distinct purposes in the realm of SEO and content strategy.

Understanding their differences is vital for an effective keyword approach.

Traffic Volume and Competition

Short Tail Keywords:

  • Traffic Volume: Short tail keywords typically have high search volume due to their general nature. Many users search using broad terms, generating significant traffic potential.
  • Competition: The high search volume of short tail keywords attracts intense competition among websites vying for top search rankings. It’s challenging to achieve a high ranking due to the competitive landscape.

Long Tail Keywords:

  • Traffic Volume: Long tail keywords have lower search volume individually compared to short tail keywords. However, when combined, the traffic from multiple long tail keywords can surpass that of a single short tail keyword.
  • Competition: Long tail keywords generally have less competition, making it easier to rank for these phrases. The specificity of long tail keywords narrows down the field of competition.

Conversion Rates and User Intent

Short Tail Keywords:

  • Conversion Rates: Users searching with short tail keywords typically have a general intent and may not be ready to make an immediate decision. Thus, conversion rates can be lower as they are in the early stages of their search process.
  • User Intent: The intent behind short tail keyword searches is often exploratory, seeking a broad understanding of a topic, product, or service. Users may still be researching and gathering information.

Long Tail Keywords:

  • Conversion Rates: Long tail keywords usually have higher conversion rates as they attract users with specific needs or queries. Users searching with long tail keywords often have a clear intent, making them more likely to convert.
  • User Intent: Users searching with long tail keywords have a more specific intent, looking for precise information, products, or solutions. They are often closer to making a decision and taking action.

Short tail keywords attract a broader audience with high traffic but face intense competition and generally have lower conversion rates due to their general intent.

Long tail keywords, on the other hand, have lower traffic individually but collectively can drive substantial traffic.

They also offer higher conversion rates due to the specificity of user intent. Balancing the use of both in an SEO strategy is essential for achieving optimal results.

Conclusion and Future Trends

Short tail keywords, characterised by their brevity and broad scope, attract a significant volume of searches, providing substantial visibility to websites.

However, they come with intense competition and often lower conversion rates due to their general intent.

Employing strategic best practices, such as strategic placement, quality content creation, and regular analysis, is vital for optimising content effectively with short tail keywords.

Understanding the nuanced differences between short tail and long tail keywords is crucial for devising a balanced keyword strategy.

Short tail keywords, with their high traffic potential, should be complemented by long tail keywords that drive targeted and specific traffic, ultimately enhancing conversion rates.

The evolution of search engine algorithms necessitates a flexible and adaptive approach to keyword optimisation.

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