What You Need to Know About Short-, Mid– & Long-Tail Keywords

Oct 7, 2022 | SEO

You may have heard of keywords before, but you probably don’t understand the difference between the three main types:

  • Short-tail keywords
  • Mid-tail keywords
  • Long-tail keywords

Don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know!

But First, What Are Keywords?

Keywords play a major role in any successful SEO strategy. They are the words or phrases that people use to find your business online

Let’s say Bob lives in Dallas, TX, and he needs a plumber. He will probably take out his phone and type in “plumber in Dallas” on Google, right? “Plumber in Dallas” will therefore be a keyword. From a business perspective, if you have a plumbing business in Dallas, you will want Bob as your customer. To get him, you need to rank your website and Google listing for that keyword, so you are the first result Bob sees on his phone.

Chances are, he’ll contact the first or second plumber he sees in the results. That is the power of keywords, and that’s the value they bring to your business — they connect you with interested customers.

The Different Types of Keywords?

Not all keywords are created equal. There are short-, mid-, and long-tail keywords. Each of these categories is based off of three main things:

  • Their specificity (how short/long and specific/broad the keyword is in length and meaning)
  • Their search volume (how many people search for the term each month)
  • Their keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank your website for that keyword in search results)

If you focus on a keyword that is too broad (e.g. “plumbing”), you may never rank well for it. If you focus on a very specific keyword (e.g. “affordable plumbing repair expert”), very few people will search for it. The goal is to include a range of all three types of keywords to maximize your chances of ranking and attracting customers.

Short-Tail Keywords

Example: “plumbing”

Results on Google: 667,000,000

Short-tail keywords have a lot of search volume but are highly competitive which means it is difficult to rank for them. Plus, they are very broad in meaning and may not always relate to your line of work. For example, not every person who types in “plumbing” on Google would be interested in a plumbing service. They may need to buy a plumbing fixture. That’s what we mean when we say short-tail keywords are broad. It is good to include those in your strategy, but you will likely have to wait a long time until you rank for them. In the meantime, you should also focus on mid- and long-tail keywords.


Long-Tail Keywords

Example: “affordable plumbing repair service near me”

Results on Google: 65,700,000


On the opposite side of things are long-tail keywords. They are highly specific and usually consist of three or more individual words. They can be formed as a question, too. “What year was America discovered?” is a good example.

These keywords usually have a very low search volume and competition which means ranking for them is easy. While they will not generate a lot of traffic to your website, they will likely attract potential clients who are more likely to convert.


Mid-Tail Keywords

Example: “plumbing repair service”

Results on Google: 105,000,000


Mid-tail (or medium-tail) keywords are the best of both worlds. They have just the right amount of specificity and search volume to make them easier to rank than short-tail keywords. But, just because there isn’t too much competition, it doesn’t mean that it won’t take a lot of work to rank for mid-tail keywords.

If you’re working with an SEO expert or a digital marketing agency, the difficult job of finding the right balance between short-, mid-, and long-tail keywords will fall on them. By partnering with 411 Locals, you are ensuring that you have a top team of experienced professionals handling your keyword selection, content optimization, and overall online presence.



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