If you’re a content manager tasked with search engine optimization (SEO), you need to be aware of the difference between short and long-tail keywords and the distinct benefits and drawbacks of each. One great thing this knowledge gives us is an elegant and effective SEO content strategy.

This article will first briefly explain the difference between short and long tail keywords and highlight their benefits and drawbacks. Then the article will outline how you can use AI writing tools to leverage both types of keywords to create a scalable SEO strategy.


Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords are so called because they are short, broad, non-specific phrases that tend to have a higher search volume. They are what most people first think of when they think about SEO. A mattress company, for example, will want to heavily feature the word "mattress" on their website so that it appears in more people’s Google results when they are in the market for a mattress.

The short tail includes the phrases people will type into Google when they first start looking into a topic. Someone who has just determined that they might want a new mattress will likely begin with a broad Google search for the word "mattress" or "mattresses".

Short tail keyword distribution

Benefits of Short Tail Keywords

With that in mind, it’s easy to see the benefits of going after short tail keywords when SEO-ing your website. If you’re a mattress company that has the resources to dominate the keyword "mattress" on Google, your website will appear in many people's searches, and you’ll get a lot of traffic that can be converted into sales. 

Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially for smaller businesses in a large, widespread market like mattresses. On the other hand, if you’re working in a smaller, more niche market, there’s much less competition over popular short tail keywords, which makes them easier to go after and dominate.

Drawbacks of Short Tail Keywords

As mentioned above though, it’s not always realistic to expect to dominate short tail keywords in a populous market or industry. Google will favor large, well-established businesses when returning results of short tail searches, while smaller, less authoritative sites will fall by the wayside. 

Another problem with short tail keywords is that because they are broad and non-specific terms, they have a low signal-to-noise ratio which may not actually result in more sales. Going after short tail keywords might help increase general traffic to your site, but they are less likely to drive meaningful consumer engagement.

People who are drawn to your site based on vague short tail search phrases are probably just perusing the internet looking for general information about the topic, and not doing serious research into which product to buy. In other words, while short tail keywords may drive more site traffic, they are less likely to convert that traffic into more sales.

Long Tail Keywords

This is where the importance of long tail keywords, search phrases with four or more words, becomes apparent. After all, people don't always use short 1-2 word phrases in their Google searches. It is also safe to say that the more detailed a query, the more likely it is that the searcher knows what they are looking for.

It's therefore crucial for SEOs to also cover long-tail keywords. even though they tend to have lower search volumes. 

Long tail keywords tend to have lower search volumes because the longer the phrase, the more possible permutations exist, which expands the pool of possible search phrases. Some long tail keywords that our hypothetical mattress company might want to address would be "firm queen-sized mattress" or "best Serta mattresses for less than $500".

long tail keyword distribution

Benefits of Long Tail Keywords

Longer keywords tend to be used when searchers have more specific ideas about what they are looking for. For example, maybe they have already done the broad preliminary research allowed by short tail keywords, and are ready to get more into specifics so they can make a definitive choice of which product to buy.

Coverage of long tail keywords is essential for converting prospects into full-fledged customers. 

Long tail keywords are also helpful for smaller businesses that operate within a large, populous market. There are a lot of different mattress manufacturers and retailers, and it might not be worthwhile for the smaller ones to try to compete with the likes of Serta, Sealy, or Tempur Pedic for high-traffic short tail keywords. 

Going after longer tail, lower-competition keywords gives those smaller businesses a fighting chance to appear in more Google searches and improve their site authority.

Drawbacks of Long Tail Keywords

Optimizing your long-tail keyword coverage can be quite a tedious task, though. As mentioned above, the longer the phrase, the more possible permutations exist, and optimization means including as many of these permutations as possible.

This coupled with the low-traffic, niche nature of these specific keywords means that you’re paying for a copywriter - or a whole department of writers - to produce lots and lots of content that few people will actually see.

As important and useful as long tail coverage is for SEO purposes, it's often simply not an affordable strategy for the businesses that would benefit the most from it.

How to Monetize your Keywords

Keyword research isn’t just about finding low-competition, high search volume keywords. Yes, that’s important, but you must consider short and long-tail keywords. This section will teach you what keywords you want to target and how to create optimized SEO content.

When creating blog posts or articles, you need to ask yourself:

“Why am I creating this content?” 

Realistically, most people want to create content because their end goal is to increase their income. However, you need to be more detailed with your monetization plan. 

Do you want to create content that ranks well, gets a lot of readers, and generates income from display ads? Perhaps you want to create targeted user content that earns money from affiliate commissions, or maybe you want to create content that will lead directly to leads and sales for your own product, software, or service. 

The point is that there are multiple different monetization options available to content creators - the monetization path that you choose will determine precisely what keywords you should be focused on ranking well for.

Earning Display Ad Income

Firstly, content that earns a lot of income through display ads. To be successful in making money with this type of content, you need more readers. Having more traffic will directly affect how much money you can earn. That’s because display ad platforms like Google AdSense, Ezoic, Mediavine, and Adthrive typically pay bloggers for every 1k pageviews.

Now you understand your goal for this type of content. You need to decide what keywords to choose. Firstly, you should usually target informational keywords that contain phrases like "how to" and "what is" - in other words, your content should be helpful and provide informational value. This is because informational keywords generally have higher search volume and are less competitive to rank well for.

Short-tail keywords usually have higher search volume, BUT they are more competitive to rank well for and don’t have the same level of intent. Someone searching for "coffee" or "camping" may be looking to buy coffee, read about different types of coffee, find a camping site near them, or watch a video of people camping, etc… simply, it’s challenging to predict exactly what someone is looking for. 

You will struggle to satisfy search intent with your content because what a searcher is looking for will massively vary from person to person. As a result, Google will see that people are “pogo-sticking” between search results, so they will display high authority websites like Wikipedia instead of you.

This means that you will find it difficult to rank on page 1 for a short-tail keyword. Unfortunately, if you are not ranking on the first page, there is little point in the content, as people will not find it organically. Of course, you could promote it religiously on social media and receive traffic that will earn display ad income, but this means jumping through an extra few hoops.

Ideally, you will be able to create your content, let it rank well, sit back, and generate passive income from your website. So, to do this, we recommend targeting an informational long-tail keyword that is low-difficulty. A few examples of keywords like this are:

  • How to heat up french fries in an air fryer
  • How to make soap bombs
  • How to start a chess game
  • How many books did Dr Seuss publish

You will notice that these keywords are precise, and only a limited amount of content will be available. This gives you the perfect opportunity to easily create the best content available and rank in the top few spots on Google.

You might be thinking… These keywords are too specific and won't bring in much traffic. However, the truth is that when you rank well for a keyword like "how to make soap bomb", you will also rank well for hundreds of similar variations, such as "soap bomb-making" and "how can I make a soap bomb". This is because people search for information in different ways, but a 1-2k word article that is a genuinely helpful resource will be able to rank for these keywords and bring in significant traffic.

Also, because your traffic will be very focused, it will be much more likely to satisfy the user’s search intent and keep them engaged with your content. As a result, the adverts on your page will be viewed more frequently and for a longer period of time, leading to a direct boost in ad revenue.

Earning Affiliate Commissions

Affiliate income is one of the most accessible income streams to earn through your content. It’s not about being a savvy salesperson or marketer. Instead, it’s just about ranking for the right sorts of keywords and being able to generate clicks on your affiliate links.

Between 1% and 2% of all affiliate link clicks convert to a sale and a commission for you. While this may not sound like a lot, if you can generate 200 affiliate link clicks daily, that would be around 2-4 commissions. If each commission made you just $10 (it could be a lot more), that would be an extra $30 daily or $900 monthly. Content and affiliate links don’t take weekends or holidays!

With that said, we are not trying to sell you a pipe dream. You can’t just throw affiliate links into all of your articles. They have to be meaningful; luckily, making them relevant is easy. It's just about keyword selection.

Content that earns money through affiliate commissions is buyer intent focused. This means that the people who are reading your content have already decided to make a purchase. They just aren't always precisely sure what they want or how much they're willing to pay.

For example, someone searching "best laptops for college students" is looking to buy a laptop and is most likely a college student or the parent of a college student. Your content is in a unique position to help guide the reader into making a purchase decision simply by providing information, recommendations, and authenticity. So, a standard structure for this type of article will be to make a list of the "best laptops for college students", rank them, and include features, pros, cons, and reviews. That's it! 

Once your content starts ranking and receiving some traffic, make sure your content is visually appealing (use lists, images, headings, and regular paragraphs). You could then add your affiliate links. When someone reads your article, they will consume your content, come to a decision, and quite often, they will click on your affiliate link and be redirected to a third-party store, such as Amazon. Once they make a purchase, you will receive a commission for the sale. At this point, your income is being generated totally on auto-pilot.

The keywords you chose will include phrases like "best", "top", "vs", "review", and "affordable" let's look at a few examples:

  • Best vegan protein powder
  • Shopify vs Wix
  • Lenovo Laptops Review
  • Affordable hot tubs for backyard

In the same way as the informational content you create that drives display ad income, focusing on long-tail keywords for affiliate income-generating content is a great idea too. Once again, you will rank for variations of the primary keyword. You will also be creating less competitive content that is very helpful and relevant for your readers.

Selling Your Own Product, Service, or Software

As you will have seen, picking keywords to generate display ad income and affiliate commissions is straightforward. However, it does become a bit more difficult when you’re selling your own product.

Your keyword strategy will likely come down to your website's authority and whether you want to focus on the content or e-commerce side of the equation. As we mentioned, a company selling mattresses would love nothing more than ranking for the keyword "mattresses". However, depending on what you sell, ranking for the short-tail keyword will be difficult, but NOT impossible.

For example, if you sold a personal training fitness service, ranking for short-tail keywords like "personal trainer", "fitness service" and "fitness coach" would be incredible. These keywords get A LOT of searches, so ranking well for these keywords would mean more leads and new clients. However, this should be your long-term goal and something to work towards. In the short term, you need to be more deliberate with your keyword research.

The best way to start driving tangible results is by building a content strategy and showcasing what you offer, your knowledge, and your experience. To do this, we recommend creating informational content directly related to your product or service. So, as someone who wants to sell a personal training fitness service, you must come across as a teacher and authority figure in the space.

We suggest creating highly relevant content for your clients and not too competitive. So instead of writing generic articles about "how to lose weight" some good examples would be:

  • Ab stretching exercises
  • Back flexibility stretches
  • 100m sprint training drills
  • 30-minute high-intensity workouts

There is an endless amount of valuable content that you can create. Focus on being genuinely helpful rather than being financially driven. With that said, within all of these articles, mention that you provide personal training services, note what you can offer, and dedicate a small portion of the article (preferably nearer the end) focused on marketing your service. Make sure to include a call-to-action such as "Find Out More Here". 

Your readers will be in a great frame of mind as you have already provided them with valuable information for free, and they may want to learn more about your services. Not only will you receive more leads and conversions you can also run display ads on your content to generate even more income.

How to Speed up the Process

You might be thinking, great, this is a strategy I can implement immediately. But how do I rank for the most coveted short-tail keywords in my industry? 

Well, it will take time as there is a lot of competition. Depending on your niche, you might start ranking for short-tail keywords a lot faster, but it’s no guarantee. However, you can take a few steps to speed up the process.

Build Backlinks

Most importantly, you need to build backlinks. By writing guest posts and being interviewed on podcasts, you will quickly become more known across your industry. This will signal to search engines that you are an authority in the niche and deserve to rank higher. If the backlinks you receive are keyword rich, that’s even better. For example, if another website links to you using anchor text such as “fitness services” or “fitness coach” this will be highly beneficial for your rankings.

Include Internal Links

Once you have content ranking well and receiving a decent number of visitors, you should create internal links on these pages to your services page. By doing this, you are distributing authority from a page that is already ranking to a page that you want to rank. By building backlinks and internal links, your website will become organized and authoritative, allowing it to appear higher in organic search for years to come!

Using Both Short And Long Tail Keywords To Produce Content At Scale

Given their advantages and disadvantages, it is essential to make as much use out of both short and long tail keywords as possible. If utilized correctly together, they can provide an SEO strategy that will drive any content production operation to scale. 

The key is in the long tail. Since long tail keywords are full phrases with a very specific meaning, they can act as a guide for the content writing team by letting them know what topics people search for and what questions they ask.

For example, our mattress company might find that a lot of people are searching for something like “mattresses that help with back pain.” This can become the topic of a blog post - or several blog posts. 

One post might be a list of the top ten mattresses for back pain, while another might be a more informative post about how the right mattress can help with back pain. In this way, long-tail keywords act as useful prompts for content writers, informing the topics of their posts. 

Another great aspect of this strategy is that it will also improve your short tail coverage, simply because important short tail keywords are usually contained within long tail keywords. The depth of your niche content will in turn provide more breadth to your short tail coverage.

That said, even the most keyword-optimized content strategy can still be expensive. Some marketing departments don’t have the time to implement this strategy or don’t have the funds to hire freelance writers to do it. Until recently, these businesses haven’t had the means to reliably scale their content production.

How To Sustainably Produce Content For A Long Tail Keyword Strategy

AI writers like Article Forge offer a potentially (inevitably) revolutionary solution to this problem. Article Forge has gotten to the point that it can produce long-form, natural-sounding written content in minutes and without the need to pay for a freelance copywriter’s time.

Using AI to write articles could virtually eliminate the front-end investment that has traditionally been necessary for optimizing your site’s long tail SEO coverage. 

Rather than paying a copywriter to spend hours producing content for each of the different permutations of your long-tail keywords, you can just feed those different phrases to Article Forge, and it will generate all your content automatically.

Using Article Forge to create large volumes of long tail keyword-focused content is also great for smaller businesses and startups because it makes up for their inability to compete on the short tail.

It lets smaller businesses play to their strengths, producing more content that speaks to their customers' specific concerns. In this way, an AI article writer like Article Forge can also improve the overall quality of your site’s content, since it lets you cover a wider array of specific topics and issues that will be of interest to your potential customers.

It makes your content more likely to be truly helpful and meaningful to your highest intent customers.

While it has made great strides over the last few years, Article Forge is nowhere near perfect yet. The content may need input from a human to tailor the message to your audience or reflect your brand’s strategy. Read more about the current limitations of AI writing tools here.

Even so, this technology has become sophisticated enough to be a significant time and energy saver in most content production workflows.

Use An AI Writer To Fill Out Your Content Strategy

A simple fact of an AI writer is that it can produce a lot of content very quickly. This helps with your long tail keyword coverage for the reasons mentioned above, but it can also help shore up your short tail coverage.

The more content you produce, the better your depth of coverage and site authority will be.

This is not to mention that long tail content also improves your short tail coverage because long tail terms contain some of the highest traffic short tail terms. 

On a related note, utilizing an AI content generator can help get your foot in the door for shorter tail keywords because search engines like Google give priority to more recent content, so the constant stream of new content that an AI writer potentially allows for will improve your site’s authority significantly.

Some AI writers have integrations with third-party tools to streamline your content production and deployment workflow. Article Forge, for example, features a post scheduler and an integration with WordPress, allowing for the creation of a fully automated, end-to-end content pipeline. 

Article Forge also has a powerful API that allows web developers or DevOps engineers to integrate Article Forge directly into their development workflows. Features like this make it even easier to produce content at scale.

Good use of an AI writing tool like Article Forge is a true embodiment of the old maxim “Content is king.” At its core, the objective of AI writing tools is to produce as much content in as little time as possible.

Still though, it’s important to understand these concepts of SEO and use them to strategize your content production. Identifying the best long tail keywords and using your AI article writer to unleash a barrage of content targeting them is a great way of improving your site’s authority and raising its visibility.


What are short tail keywords and why are they important?

  • Short tail keywords are 1-3 word phrases that have a high search volume.
  • Covering short tail keywords will let you appear in more searches and increase traffic to your site.

What are long tail keywords and why are they important?

  • Long tail keywords are 4+ word phrases that have a lower search volume.
  • These keywords are more specific and have higher intent, so searches are more likely to convert to sales.

How does Article Forge help leverage them both?

  • Article Forge’s AI writer lets you dramatically scale your content production.
    • It’s much easier to cover all permutations of long tail keywords.
    • More content means better depth of short tail coverage.

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