Long Tail v. Short Tail: Which is Best for SEO?

If you’re thinking about content marketing, then you need to think about SEO. And if you’re thinking about SEO, then you need to think about keywords. ‘Keywords’ are the words or phrases that your audience will search for, so in terms of ranking it’s important that your website content matches your audience’s needs. However, SEO can sometimes be a little tricky, especially as we move towards Web 3.0.

Types of Keyword

In many cases, an SEO company like Mi Web Design will break down potential keywords for your website content into two categories: short tail keywords, and long tail keywords. So what’s the difference?

Short Tail Keywords are typically made up of one word, sometimes two. For a jewellers in London, for example, relevant short tail keywords would be ‘jewellers’ or ‘jewellers London’. The advantage of short tail keywords like this is that they are quite broad and generic, which means that they’re great for boosting visibility. The downside, however, is that these keywords are highly competitive, so it’s vital to work with an SEO consultant – to ensure your content doesn’t get lost among all the other businesses that have also optimised their content with these words.

Long Tail Keywords are generally much longer than their short tail counterparts. Using the above example, a relevant long tail keyword would be ‘jewellers in Islington London specialising in platinum wedding rings’. The downside to long tail keywords is that they are incredibly niche, which means that you won’t be targeting large numbers of people. The advantage, however, is that you will be targeting users who know what they want, and who are in a position to act. If short tail is for boosting visibility, long tail is for increasing conversions.

Which is Best?

Both long tail and short tail keywords are necessary as part of comprehensive SEO services. However, while the trend has been to focus on short tail in the past, there has been a notable shift towards long tail keywords recently, and that’s because of Web 3.0. Also known as the ‘Semantic Web’, Web 3.0 aims to assign meaning to user search terms, and this is significantly changing our SEO marketing strategies.

With Google SEO evolving to attempt to understand user behaviour, long tail keywords are becoming increasingly important. As a form of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google uses what it has ‘learned’ from a user to provide what it deems to be the most relevant results. Therefore, the more context we add to our keywords and phrases, the better Google can match us with the right people.