What are short-tail and long-tail keywords? And what’s the deal with them?

First, you must know what keywords are right? Keywords are specific words/phrases that facilitate DESCRIPTION of searched-for written content, images, web pages and a lot more in the digital platform. That means in search engines like Google, they are a means for users to find their choice of information just by typing specific group of words.

Keywords no doubt are very important in the history of the internet. The concept of using these is what started the systemization of online information channels we have today. The simple prospect of typing words and clicking the search engine results has led to SEO companies’ brutal competition against each other just to get to number one, or at least on the first page, of the SERPs (search engine results pages).

As worse comes to worst, the bloody online competition has led to the prevalence of black-hat practices such as “overstuffing” of keywords, poorly-spun content and other black-hat techniques. And so Google, with its ever constant updates named after cute animals such as Penguin and now, Panda 4.0 version, has over the years been doing something that caused many SEO businesses have second thoughts. In the aim of providing better user experience, Google’s updates mainly aim to eliminate poor content from the search pages.

That is why for us, this is a fact: putting quality content is significant in ranking your site. Poor content not only will turn your potential customers away, you’ll get a bad reputation with Google as Google de-ranks your website if it sees content that are poorly done or plagiarized.

Given this whole situation, what’s the future for small business players constantly shadowed by big corporate players when it comes to targeting customer niches, online? The answer – that is the deal with short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Big companies today might have built authority when it comes to online information channels or certain branding aspects, but you know that doesn’t end there. Any small business can succeed and even expand if it learns to achieve perfect balance when it comes to implementing customer campaigns. For one, big companies tend to target the public in general, while a small business happens to have the flexibility to just concentrate locally. A small or medium business has the time to get to know its local customers and get attuned with its vicinity. A local business has the time to take care of its customers personally.

That’s the deal with short-tail and long-tail keywords.


Short-tail and Long-tail keywords

Short-tail keywords are simply keywords consisting of more general and shorter phrases, probably one to three words, for example: “boots”. Long-tail keywords have more words, even a complete phrase, for example: “Blue Ski Boots Melbourne”.  (Let’s also set aside the fact that there are generic keywords consisting of more words, for example, a question “Where to buy shoes?”; the point is in general, longer keywords tend to be more niche-specific.)

Short-tail keywords are usually more general keywords that have probably been used by many businesses over the world belonging in the same niche (you can find actual Search Rates and we’ll discuss that later).

Long-tail keywords are more targeted (we call it in our website “laser targeted traffic magnets”) and with them you can localize, specify your keywords. Specifying your keywords is a very significant part as this helps your site be optimized and be found conveniently when users search for local or specific services.

So you are saying that opting for less competitive keywords is the way to go?

Yes and not necessarily. Long-tail keywords are definitely there to address the information gap between you and your local customers. But then, what about those local customers that prefer to use more general keywords? Or what about those that prefer to combine different keywords in a search?

That is why short and long-tail keywords are not there for the sake of it. They are there to be optimized in best ways possible. These are some considerations to be remembered when utilizing keywords: proper amount of keywords in a certain content length, on-site and off-site optimization, how keywords as well as sites are linked to one another. It’s a matter of balance between keywords, sites (which may as well include page ranks), linking between keywords and sites, and content. If you want to learn more, you can read from Ardor’s websites, read our customer emails, as well as search in the internet.

Choosing your Keywords

You may already know that when it comes to choosing your keywords, you don’t necessarily just choose what pops in your mind, while there are times following your gut is good.

For a start, you can get to know Google Adwords. There are other free keyword search tools you can use such as Wordtracker and Wordstream. With the keyword tool, you will need to know how competitive the keywords are against other sites, as well as the count of people who search for the keywords in a period. Other considerations such as spelling and how you’d design content for your prospect keywords must be regarded. Keep in mind that you are here to maximize your opportunity when it comes to keywords.



If you are already familiar with Ardor’s services, you know that we don’t do overstuffing of keywords. In the past, this was a common practice – the more keywords in a content, linked to other sets of content, the better. The search engine updates today just won’t do for overstuffing. SEO practitioners now are careful in putting just the right amount of keywords to make the density look natural (ideally about 1-3% of the content).

So think “Meeting Needs”

Let’s go back to short and long-tail keywords. Don’t imagine keywords as used only in text content; as mentioned before they can be used in naming your images, videos, metatags, etc. Maximize keywords.

This as well leads to exciting opportunities in conceiving your content. The smart first step is setting your objectives, i.e., in the content marketing measures you’re planning to do.

As you set your objectives, consider the following points. Designing your content in the local-level means:

  • Being attuned to the situation of your vicinity. This means recognizing your local situation, in different possible aspects such as current events, economic or business situations.
  • Recognizing local customers’ common needs. As you do this, you will discover that there are specific needs of your local customers that you can elaborate in your content, or needs you have overlooked in terms of information gap or actual service gap (that you may as well address).

Just by citing or recognizing your locale’s situation you can gain credibility and trust from your customers. And by now, you should know that short and long-tail keywords play a good role to that for your content. Whether you are there to provide the best quality blue ski boots or tell there are great ski boots you sell in Melbourne, realizing a good content marketing scheme is possible with the proper use of keywords.

That’s the deal with short and long-tail keywords. More than great site optimization, your key to successful online domination is producing quality content with good keywords as main attention baits. Search engines are into looking for quality content anyway.

(You can browse through Ardor Content and Ardor Media Factory’s sites to learn more about content marketing and the services.)