But not all keywords are automatically the same. Online marketing managers distinguish between a whole range of different types of keywords. The distinction is important because each type of keyword has its own special characteristics.

Short Tail Keywords

The name already reveals what these keywords are all about. Short Tail Keywords are keywords that are usually a maximum of 2 terms long. These keywords usually have a significantly higher search volume than your siblings.

Thus, people more often search for a term like “pizza” than “how many calories in a slice of pizza”.

Semrush Search Volume Pizza
Example: Monthly search volume for the keyword: “Pizza”

Which is actually not that surprising. Just think about the fact that these keywords are the first approach to get some information about a topic.

High search volume means high traffic. And wherever is a high demand, there is usually a lot of money lying in wait. Which, of course, also means that this is where you will find the greatest competition. 

Why is it not the best idea to rank with these keywords?

Because Short Tail Keywords tend to not convert the user well. The chance is very high that the user will not get an answer to his specific search query. In addition, a lot of effort has to be invested to prevail against the competition in highly competitive areas.

Therefore, short tail keywords in search engine optimization usually form the basic structure of our website. Over a long period of time, the more answers we can give to a keyword, the more relevant our website becomes to this general search query.

Such fundamental keywords are also known in the SEO scene as: “Seed Keywords“.


Examples:Eggs, Lemons, Privacy law, Plastic Surgery
Advantages:High search volume
Cons:Poor conversion rate, high competition
CompetitionVery high

Long Tail Keywords

Longtail keywords are a word chain of at least 3 terms. Almost every combination of these keywords (key group) reveals much more what the potential visitor is actually looking for.

Monthly Search Volume for Longtail keyword Snoring

Longtail keywords are more precise in your search intention

Because these terms are so much more specific, you also have a much lower search volume. And a significantly weaker competition. Which makes these keywords particularly interesting for new websites or search engine optimizers.

We know exactly what the user is looking for and can adjust our content to match this keyword. In this way, we solve the problem of our visitor. And the chances are high that he or she will stay on our website for a long time. Possibly even converting them to customers.


Examples:Cooking hard eggs, Lemon Vitamine C, Setup a Cookie Opt In, Risks in Plastic Surgeries
Advantages:High conversion rate, weak competition, and potential niches
Cons:Low search volume
Competition:Low to medium

Local Keywords / Geo-Targeting-Keywords

When we talk about local keywords, we are talking about keywords that are location-based. There are special rules for location-based search queries in search engines. They are subject to your own ranking factors.

Example for local keywords
Example for local keywords: Monthly search volume for Co-Working in Berlin

These results are usually only displayed if you find yourself in the immediate area of the shops or explicitly search for results in another location.

This makes sense as well. Who wants to receive results from dentists in Cologne when they are in Frankfurt am Main at the moment?


Examples:Dentist Berlin, Café in Munich, Gym Prenzlauer Berg
Advantages:High conversion rate, mainly companies close to geographical location
Cons:Depending on company type and city size low search volume, different rules for positions & rankings
Competition:Low to medium

Product Keywords / Commercial Keywords

Product keywords have one thing in common with longtail keywords: they have a very specific search intention. In most cases, the searcher is already aware of a product and is only one step away from making a purchase. Well composed, there are high chances to convert a customer.

Example Monthly Search Volume Buy Vacuum Cleaner
Example for Ecommerce Keywords with the search intention to buy a vacuum cleaner

Therefore, product keywords can usually be divided into further subcategories with different search intentions. Your task as a website operator should now be to fulfill the search intentions of your visitors.

If there is already a purchase intention existing: For example: “Buy a vacuum cleaner”, then websites that only provide educational content will have a much harder chance to reach top positions compared to a webshop that sells vacuum cleaners directly. The webshop simply fulfills the search intent of the user better. Therefore you will find mostly only results from webshops or shopping ads.

The top positions for the keyword: “Buy vacuum cleaner” are all online stores. No advice pages.

If, on the other hand, the user searches for the keyword: “vacuum cleaner test”, the search intention differs and primarily advice pages with comparisons are displayed.

Search intent searching for product review

The content must match the search intention.

Top Positions for searching for product Reviews
The top positions for the keyword: “Buy a vacuum cleaner” are all advice pages. Online stores are no longer represented.


Examples:Buy a scooter, Mixer XYZ review, surfboard test
Advantages:High conversion rate, high competition
Cons:Difficult to rank without offering your own products, search intention must be fulfilled
Competition:Medium to High

Why is it important to distinguish keywords?

It is important to understand that every kind of keyword has its own search intention. This means that already during the keyword research you can determine which competition is present and what kind of content we need to create for this keyword. This is the only way to fulfill the search intent of the users, which has become so crucial for search engine optimization today.

These were by far not all kinds of keywords. There are many more subcategories into which keywords can be divided

Examples: Question, news or brand keywords.