Short-Tail Keywords | Top 10 Benefits & Best SEO Audit Tools

In this guide, you’ll learn about Short-Tail Keywords in detail. Not forgetting, they have been used by SEO service experts for a while now, and it still works. But, with the increasing demand in search engine query results, Long-tail keywords are also taking in some momentum. If used correctly, it can be a compelling way to take advantage of high-intent search traffic.

Overall, when it comes to search keywords, there are a wide variety of keyword types. In most cases, they basically fall into these two common categories: short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. On one side, short-tail keywords are prevalent searches that are generally specific by a given term and yield a wide range of search results per the user queries.

Generally, short-tail keywords are often just 1-2 words. A good example of a short-tail keyword is “web design.” On the other side, long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that are 3,4, or even more words long. And they are very specific as they focus on a niche. A good example is “a web design agency in Kenya.” Perse, we’ll learn more about them in a short while…

What Are Short-Tail Keywords?

Short-Tail Keywords are keywords or key phrases that are broader – and usually shorter – than most recently used and specific Long-Tail Keywords. They normally have only one word or two words. Notably, they are known to get more search traffic than their more specific long-tail keywords. For instance, talking about one word we mean a term such as “design.”

Whilst, a combination of two words is “website design.” All these are short-tail keywords, whereas “an SEO-ready website design” is an example of a long-tail keyword. In short, the term “short tail keyword” is the opposite of the “long tail keyword” in that order. So, understanding the term “long tail keyphrase” informs what is meant by the short tail keyphrase.

The big benefit of optimizing your website for short-tail keywords is that they have the highest amount of searches per month. In fact, according to one study, the 10,000 most used keywords are virtually all short tail. They also make up almost 20% of all searches, out of millions of all keywords.

That makes them the biggest opportunity to get more traffic and conversions to your website from organic search. However, the high volume and broad meaning also make short-tail keywords highly competitive.

Short-Tail vs Long-Tail Keywords

I am sure by now you may be wondering if it’s more valuable to rank for short or long-tail keywords. You may see the higher levels of competition and lower conversion rates and get scared away from short-tail search terms. However, short-term keywords still have a much greater opportunity and are very important to your business.

According to Yoast, focusing on Long-Tail Keywords is a very great SEO tactic. Having a working long-tail keyword strategy can greatly help you out when there’s a lot of competition in your market. Or rather, whenever there’s a lot of competition for the main keywords you want to rank for.

Unlike the shorter version, Long-Tail Keywords are keywords or key phrases that are more specific – but usually longer – than more commonly used Short-Tail Keywords. Notably, they are known to get less search traffic. But, when they do, they’ll usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific.

The Long-Tail Keywords allow you to gradually get more traffic to your site and be found by new and motivated audiences. Basically, a long-tail keyword doesn’t need to have a specific length, and it doesn’t need to include your head keyword.

Learn More: Long-Tail Keywords | 10 SEO Benefits With Example Tools

That being said, long-tail keywords often contain around 3 – 5 words, and in many cases, they do include the head keyword too. Since these keywords are more specific than generic terms, they allow you to target niche demographics.

These keywords are also less competitive than generic keywords because they are designed to better reflect how people make queries. A good example of a long-tail keyword is a web design agency in Kenya. With long-tail keywords, you are able to attract more high-quality traffic to your website which is more likely to lead to conversions.

In other words, long-tail keywords are more specific and less common than other keywords. They focus more on a niche. On the other hand, short-term keywords are prevalent searches that are general and yield a wide range of search results. They’re often just 1-2 words. A good example of a short-tail keyword is web design.

This means that the web content writer would want to rank for these two terms in search engine results. Below are the key pros and cons. Lastly, long-tail keywords typically offer a vastly higher Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI) too. More so, than trying to compete with a huge number of large businesses. For they have somewhat of a monopoly over them.

The key benefits are:
  • Higher search volume
  • Greater opportunity to get your website in front of more potential customers
  • More total clicks and conversions for just the one keyword

In other words, ranking for short-tail keywords represents the biggest opportunity for your website. Now that they have huge amounts of search volume. Meaning, ranking at position #1 for them would lead to a massive return on your investment. Even though there is usually more competition for short-tail keywords, it’s still worth the effort to optimize your website for them.

But, the best way to rank for them isn’t to only focus on short-tail search terms and ignore everything else. Optimizing for longer versions of a seed keyword also helps you rank better for the short-tail version.

The main drawbacks include:
  • Much more competitive to rank for short-tail keywords
  • A broader range of user intent makes it more difficult to create the right content for it
  • Lower click and conversion rates, and higher cost per click

Basically, long-tail keywords have been used by experts offering SEO services for a while now, and it still works. If used correctly, it can be a compelling way to take advantage of high-intent search traffic. The truth is that you should optimize for both the short and long-tail keywords as part of a balanced SEO strategy.

Optimizing your website for short keywords will get you more awareness and total clicks to drive more business. But, optimizing for long-tail keywords will give you higher converting traffic for less effort and cost. It will also help you rank higher for the seed keyword. When you put the work into ranking well for all of them, you reap all the potential benefits.

Should You Still Target Short-Tail Keywords?

Important to realize, when searching for more specific results, web users tend to type a longer query (i.e.: a long-tail keyword) into Google or another search engine. More so, in order to get more relevant results. By contrast, if they are only searching for a general topic, then they’re more likely to enter a short-tail query of one or two words.

When looking for keyword suggestions, novice online marketers can be tempted to go solely for short-tail keywords, since these terms often hold the most traffic. However, it’s important to remember that short-tail keywords are extremely competitive. More so, in spite of the large number of hits the keywords receive.

While short-tail keywords are usually extremely competitive, this does not mean that you shouldn’t target them as well. After all, it is still likely that most of the traffic to your website coming from search engines will come from short queries. Short-term keywords are still important for driving traffic to your website and raising brand awareness.

Even though the most valuable traffic (i.e.: visitors who ultimately become customers) is usually more likely to come from long-tail keyword searches. For example, typing ‘SEO’ into Google will yield many millions of results (almost 2M results). And the term has hundreds of thousands of monthly global searches.

Related Topic: Best SEO Techniques | 10 Tips to Get Organic Site Traffic

Needless to say, getting your website listed on the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for that term will be almost impossible. By comparison, targeting a long-tail keyword that is more specific to your particular business will be far less competitive.

Equally important, the traffic generated is more likely to lead to conversions. For example, targeting ‘Beginners guide to on-page SEO’ is far more specific. Generally, for web-based business sellers, it’s easier to rank highly with long-tail keywords. What’s more, users who visit your website through long-tail terms are also more likely to buy!

This is because long-tail keyword searches are highly specific. And, as such, users mostly know exactly what they are looking for when searching for any given terms. As opposed to short-tail keywords. For one thing, they are often used in the early stage of looking for a product or service, perhaps when researching before buying.

In reality, short-tail keyword opportunities are still very much worth looking into.  But, you’ll have to play the long game. The quickest returns can often be found in the form of long-tail terms which drive the most valuable traffic to your website.

Better Content SEO: A Sample Business Audit Plan

So far, keywords are a major part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Meaning, choosing the best keywords to target is crucial for the success of your website. In order to get search engine robots to detect the subject matter of your website, you should target relevant keywords.

But, how do you do that? Well, by placing them into various website elements. Such as headings, descriptions, and the content itself. However, it’s also particularly important to ensure that you do not over-optimize your website through excessive keyword usage.

Meaning, your chosen keywords should be used sparingly. More so, in such a way that they are almost unnoticeable and natural to your readers. Otherwise, your SEO strategy can end up being completely counter-productive. That said, consider the following sample business audit plan.

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Let’s say, Jackie (a Kenyan-based vegan, gluten-free ice cream shop) has heard about your SEO team. Thus, she wants help improving how often they show up in organic search results. In order to help them, you need to first understand a little more about their customers.

For instance, you can ask yourself: are individuals looking for health-conscious ice cream specifically? Or are they just looking to satisfy a sweet tooth? And then, where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?

To do so, you might ask questions such as:
  • What is the current SEO status of the business?
  • What types of ice cream, desserts, snacks, etc. are people searching for?
  • How are people searching for the business and what are the search terms?
  • When are people searching for ice cream, snacks, desserts, etc.?
  • How are the seasonality trends throughout the months, year, etc.?
  • What words do they use and what questions do they ask?
  • Are most of their searches performed on mobile devices or other gadgets?
  • Why are these people seeking ice cream or other related products?

Lastly — here’s the kicker — how can you help provide the best content about Jackie’s Shop? More so, in order to cultivate a community and fulfill what all those people are searching for?

Related Topic: Online Reputation Management (ORM) | 10 Good PR Tools

Well, asking such questions is a crucial planning step for your keyword research. Not only is asking kicker business questions a crucial planning step for your keyword research, but it’ll even help you craft better content.

You may have a way of describing what you do, but how does your audience search for the product, service, or information you provide? Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process. Let’s now look at the Keyword Research Tools you should consider.

Short-Tail Keywords Research Strategic Plan

Now that you’ve learned how to show up in search results using the short version of key terms, it’s time to determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content. As well as how to craft that content to satisfy both users and SERPs.

Bearing in mind, the power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market. In addition to how they are searching for your content, services, or products. And then, once you uncover how your target audience is searching for your content, you begin to uncover a whole new world of strategic SEO.

So, what’s in for your unique keyword research strategic tools? In reality, a great keyword research tool provides you with specific search data that can help you answer various questions as an SEO expert.

Consider such questions below:
  • What are people searching for?
  • How many people are searching for it?
  • In what format do they want that information?

Basically, before you can help a business grow through search engine optimization, you first have to understand who they are, who their customers are, and their goals. This is where corners are often cut.

But, oftentimes, too many people bypass this crucial planning step. Obviously, because keyword research takes time. So, why spend the time when you already know what you want to rank for? The answer is that what you want to rank for and what your audience actually wants are often two wildly different things.

Focusing on your audience and then using keyword data to hone those insights will make for much more successful campaigns than focusing on arbitrary keywords. The best way to go about it is by using a keyword research tool.

What Is A Keyword Research Tool?

After learning about the keywords criteria above, it’s time to look for the best keyword research tools for your SEO audit strategy. Whether it’s for your unique web business or even that of your customer. Keyword research tools are vital for growing traffic to your site.

Technically, they help you write the perfect content to increase your organic search traffic. Unfortunately,  the biggest challenge is that finding the right keyword research tool can be tricky. Especially, if you’re fairly new to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) alike.

So, What is a Keyword Research Tool? Well, according to wpbeginner, a keyword research tool helps you find topic ideas that people are searching for on search engines. More so, on search engine results like Google, Bing, Amazon, etc.

Related Topic: How SEO Ranking in SERPs is Done for Sites to Rank High

This helps you find content ideas that your customers are looking for. You can then plan your content strategy to cover those topics in your blog posts and landing pages. Keyword research tools also help you see both seed keywords and long-tail keywords where your competitors are ranking at the top.

You can then improve your content to target those keywords and steal their traffic. That being said, allow me to list for you some of the best keyword research tools for SEOs that you can use. Just click on the link to get started with any of them.

Consider the following:
  1. SEMrush
  2. AnswerThePublic
  3. Ubersuggest
  4. Ahrefs
  5. Google Keyword Planner
  6. Long Tail Pro
  7. Serpstat
  8. SpyFu
  9. Google Trends
  10. Google Search Console

Personally, after trying out all the popular keyword research tools above, I believe that SEMRush is the best keyword research tool and the #1 SEO toolkit in the market. Notably, Semrush offers solutions for SEO, PPC, content, social media, and competitive research. It’s trusted by over 7000000 marketers worldwide.

All in all, whether you’re a blogger or an eCommerce website, in order for keyword research strategy to work, you must set up Google Analytics and connect Google Search Console to your website. All these tools help you see how your website is performing for specific keywords. Along with showing you the average CTR (click-through rate) on your listing.

The Best SERPs Keyword Rank Tracking Tools

The best strategy to stay ahead in terms of web content queries and search results data is by using Keyword Rank Tracking as a starting field. And if you only can Start Tracking SERPs, you can easily keep an eye on your marketing campaign progress. Especially, by tracking your keyword rankings across multiple search engines, devices, or zip codes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

In general, Rank Tracking Software are tools that allow you to track the rankings of your keywords the SERPs. They are important for monitoring your site’s overall SEO performance. So that you can adjust your current content and SEO strategy. In that sense, SEO rank tracking is having your posts and pages tracked by such tools to see where it is landing in the SERPs.

These tools are not perfect but they do act as a baseline for where you stand in a given search engine. One great way to track your web ranking is by using Raven Tools (the original SEO platform). Another great tool to check your keyword rankings is SE Ranking. Below are a few more tools that you can give a try.

Consider the following:
  1. SERPWatcher
  2. Wincher
  3. Advanced Web Ranking
  4. Authoritylabs
  5. Moz Rank Checker

Overall, a good keyword tracker tool helps with keyword research to optimize a website’s on-page SEO performance. Additionally, it provides important data and metrics about keywords too. Including keyword position, search volume, traffic, and more on the SERPs of search engines like Baidu, Google, and Bing.

Then again, it compiles the information into instant desktop and mobile ranking reports. As such, these platforms help small businesses or large enterprises keep track of how well their website performs for those exact keywords. While keyword rank tracking platforms develop, marketers can expect to see a boost in the functions and SEO tools they offer.


Back in 2008, through his data analysis report, Bill Trancer put this into perspective this way: “There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

Technically, keyword research makes the (SEO) world go round. It’s always worth investing in keyword research, but not all keywords are created equal. Of course, they can vary a lot in topic, type, and length. And those differences have a big impact on how you optimize your website for them.

Take short-tail keywords for instance. Whilst typically harder to rank for than their long-tail counterparts, they are still valuable search terms to target (if you want to reach the right audience). Lots of people search for a given seed keyword to start their search for a specific topic.

Related Topic: Blog SEO | How to Increase Website Rank with Categories

Eventually, while ranking for a short-tail keyword can be difficult, they are also highly valuable to your business. So, what’s your say? Well, let’s know your experiences with short-tail vs long-tail keywords. How do you come up with long-tail keywords for your website? Have you had great success with targeting the short tail instead?

We’d love to know about that and more! But, if you’ll need more support, you can always Contact Us and let us know how we can help you. Feel free to share your opinions thoughts, suggestions, contributions, or even additional questions in our comments section below. All in all, I wish you all the best!

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One comment

  1. Thanks, jmexclusives for sharing this useful guideline on Short-Tail Keywords, its 10 Benefits & Best SEO Audit Tools with us.
    I am looking forward to more great and similar or related blog content in the future.
    Good Work!

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