Short-Tail Keywords Full Explanation: Pros, Cons, & Examples

Edgars Kebbe

Updated October 25, 2022

If you are thinking about creating a content marketing strategy for your eCommerce website, you should know that keywords are the core of any SEO strategy. They are a determining factor in generating organic traffic to your site. However, not all keywords are the same. Differentiating their types, advantages, and disadvantages can improve your keyword research so you can select the best ones for your site.

Join me today and find out everything you need to know about short-tail keywords, what they are, their characteristics, and examples; compare them to long-tail keywords and see all the reasons why you should or should not use them on your site. 

Let’s get started!

Short-Tail Keyword: Definition & Characteristics 


Let’s get started by answering the question; what are short-tail keywords?

Short-tail keywords are search terms composed of one or two words. They are basic terms when performing a general and broad query on any topic. 


Their main characteristic is their vast search volume, which can drive more organic traffic.

However, this amplitude can cause the traffic generated to your page is not of quality since it does not offer a concrete answer to the user intent like other search terms, such as long-tail keywords. As a result, they might have an increased bounce rate.

In addition, short-tail keywords tend to have a higher competition index since many sites are looking to rank for them in search engines. 

These search terms have great value because they are the starting point to generate variations of keywords for more specific searches.

An example of a short-tail keyword is “digital marketing,” when you enter it in the search bar, you get millions of results. 

Let’s see now why you should use them in your optimization strategy! 

Main Reason to Use Short-Tail Keywords on Your Web Page

The main reason to use short-tail keywords in your SEO efforts is the monthly search volume they offer, as they are the most used keywords in user search queries. They help to drive traffic to your page and build your brand conscience. 

There is a unique trinomial between keyword length, search volume, and ranking opportunity in search engines’ results. However, it does not mean that they are the only option to consider; in the SEO world, every time someone starts keyword research often faces short-tail vs. long-tail keywords, i.e., which is better? The quantity or the quality of traffic for search engine ranking. 

But these can be a guide to help you find other types of keywords: middle-tail keywords or long-tail keywords.

Here are some examples that will better illustrate the potential of these types of search terms to boost your keyword research.

Some Short-Tail Keywords Examples

For you to better understand why short-tail keywords can help you find more specific keyword options to favor conversion, here are three examples that will illustrate what I mean:  

Keywords with Local Delimitation: “Restaurant.”

The first example I explain to you is local keywords; these are search queries that include a specific geographic delimitation. In these cases, users enter in search engines the name of the town, region, or city where they want to get the results. 

Here I have selected the short-tail keyword “restaurant” and see what variations arise once I add a modifier for a geographic zone.

  • Restaurant.
  • Restaurant in Florida. 
  • Restaurant in Orlando Florida. 
  • Restaurant in Altamonte Springs Florida.

Have you noticed how the user’s search gets more specific? Now you have both long-tail and short-tail keywords.

They are handy because, according to Smart Insights, Long-tail keywords have click-through rates of 3-5% higher than common keywords, so you should not go for the most popular or apparent option.

Pro Tip:

To find variations of a short-tail keyword, you can use keyword research tools, which not only give you suggestions of long-tail keyword searches but also allow you to check which of them have a good volume and better chances of ranking.

Keywords for eCommerce: “Watches.”

Suppose you have an online store that sells watches, and the first word that comes to your mind to optimize your page is the short-tail keyword “watches.” If you enter this word in the Google search engine, it will surely return millions of results. 

Let’s see the possible variations: 

  • Watches.
  • Men’s watches.
  • Leather strap watches. 
  • Leather strap watch for men.

Each option offers you a different search volume, CTR, and impressions that you can check using a keyword research tool, i.e., SE Ranking Keyword Suggestion Tool, Semrush, etc.

However, the more specific you are, the closer you are to conversion. As Profound Strategy explains, 50% of search queries are four or more words, so you must consider long-tail keywords.

I suggest that when choosing words to optimize a page, you have in mind the topic you want to address. For example, you sell watches, and you have a blog where you give ideas, tips, tutorials, etc.; each page should have a keyword directly related to the answer that your content offers. 

Let’s see some search intents that you could consider in your keyword research.

  • Watches maintenance tips.
  • Watches repairs tutorial.
  • Watch trends and styles news.
  • Best watches brands lists.

Pro Tip:

First, determine the search intent you want to cover on your page before choosing the keyword. So, you can be specific in your search engine optimization strategy. Maybe find a long-tail keyword and achieve higher-quality traffic.

Keywords for Virtual Products: “Plugins.”

In this third example, suppose that you offer digital products in the market, “plugins.” 

If you are in the programming world and want to create a business selling plugins for websites, maybe the most obvious option is to optimize your page in search engines for this keyword. The problem is that millions of other sites may try to rank for this term. What to do? Bingo! Think about specific modifiers:

  • Plugins. 
  • Plugins for WordPress.
  • Free plugins for WordPress. 
  • Free plugins for WordPress websites. 

Including these modifiers allows you to find a long-tail keyword option when doing keyword research. Some other search-related options directly target your type of product, industry, and, better yet, your target audience. 

Pros & Cons of using Short-Tail Keywords When Optimizing for Search Engines

Now that you know what short-tail keywords are and what you can use them for, I will point out their benefits and downsides for your search engine optimization actions.

Let’s do it!

Advantages: Why It Is Good to Rely on Them

  • Increased search volume is the strong point of these search terms; you could increase your site’s organic search traffic. 
  • Brand conscience: short-tail keywords help you to achieve a better identification of your brand.
  • Get more visits: These SEO keywords allow you to attract customers in the first stage of the sales cycle.
  • Point different targets: You aim to rank for multiple user search intents.

Disadvantages: Why Not Use Them 

  • High competitivity: many sites want to rank for them; if your company does not have enough authority or recognition, your chances of ranking in the SERP for a short-tail keyword are slim.
  • High costs: Short-tail keywords require you to invest more in advertising campaigns.
  • Low conversion rate: they are so generic or broad that they do not guide the user to the part of the sales funnel you want.
  • No defined user intent: the content of your page may not answer one specific user’s wants.

To Sum It Up

As you can see, the key is to find the balance between using short-tail and long-tail keywords on your site to get the traffic you want. Keep in mind your SEO strategy’s defined goals and objectives before beginning keyword research to get the right terms. Finally, try to play with the different types of keywords in your content, whether short-tailed or long-tailed.

Do you already do your keyword research? Do you want to learn more about how to use keywords for SEO?

Please don’t be shy and leave me your opinion in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between long and short-tail keywords?

The difference is in their length and the traffic they generate. A short-tail keyword is a search term composed of one of two words with massive search volume and traffic. While a long-tail keyword consists of four or more words, their volume and difficulty are lower.

Why use short-tail keywords for SEO?

The main benefit is getting more traffic for its high search volume and a higher rate of clicks and impressions for your website.

Which is better, short-tail or long-tail keywords?

Both have specific benefits. Short-tail keywords are broader and often come first to the customer’s mind when searching for a product or service. A long-tail keyword generates quality traffic, but finding them is more complicated.

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