Head or Long-tail Keywords? Here is the answer!


To have a head or long-tail keyword, that is the question.

Hamlet, the famous character written by Shakespeare, in 1603 might be confused about continuing living or choosing death. However, the 21st-century digital marketers are thinking whether they should use head or long-tail keyword.

Talking about types of keywords are not far from the notion of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a method that makes you get the top rank in search engines. There are a lot of SEO elements, but the keywords are frontline. They describe what your content is talking about, then Google utilizes the information to connect it with its relevance and popularity, as the Google ranking factors. Keyword research and its results can mean the world for your blogs.

Head and long-tail keywords are two of the keyword types that are based on length. As their names suggested, it deals with the number of keywords and they work in the opposite.

Head keywords

Head keywords, which are also the same as generic and broad keywords, are short keywords. They usually only use one to three words. The examples of the head keyword are “book”, “social media topics”, “Starbucks coffee”, and “Donald Trump”

Search volume

You can predict that there are a lot of websites that use this keyword on their pages because it is popular and highly used by SEO writers. It is indeed that search volume is high as people frequently begin their research using this type of keyword that matches their intent.

Let us take a look at one of the keyword tools, LSIGraph. For example, you want to write about a minimalist apartment. The relevant keywords, that are categorized as head keywords, are “minimalist furniture” and “minimalist bedroom”. They get 2,400 and 5,400 in search volume, compared to the long tail keyword like “modern small apartment design exterior”, it only has 10 searches.


So, you know that the search volume of head keywords is high. Then, you start using it as your marketing strategy. Hold on, do not get trapped!

It is true that the head keyword seems great as they drive high search volume if you search on keyword tools. However, it also means that head keywords are highly competitive.

Imagine that you only choose “iced green tea” as the keyword. Google will gather all results about iced green tea around the world. Many websites that are already well-known get the first page on Google like the websites of Starbucks, Lipton, WikiHow, and culinary authors, Jessica Gavin for instance. Your new-built business site has a low probability to exceed them.


The disadvantage of using head keywords is you cannot specify your target audience since the focus is low.

For example, you sell English classic books, but you only use the keyword “book”. People who only search books are hard to find you because when they type “book”, they probably also encounter sellers of sci-fi books, audiobooks, and children’s books, or they can get information about the history of books and best books of the year.

Another issue is the conversion rate of this keyword is low. You may obtain hundreds of searches and dozens of clicks, you can count people who finally buy your products on one hand. People tend to buy things when it is directed only for them.

Long-tail keywords     

Unlike head keywords that only use three words or less, this type of keyword has 4 words or even more than that. Examples of long-tail keywords are “best green tea brands in the US”, “marketing content writing examples”, and “softball equipment near me”.

Search volume

As you know that these keywords work in the opposite way, the search volume of long-tail keywords is low. It might be bad news for you since you cannot get an opportunity in appearing in plenty of searches.

You have realized that the keyword about minimalistic home design above only gets 10 searches. It goes the same with other long-tail keywords under the same topic like “modern small apartment design exterior” or “minimalist small apartment design”

However, you do not need to worry about the small number of search volume because more than 70% of web search traffic has been done using longtail keywords.


The search volume is low, so is the competition. It is great to use long-tail keywords if you sell an item, there are only a few stores that offer the same thing.

SaaS company from New York has conducted research and the result has shown that long-tail keywords outperform head terms with 1,68 difference in an average rank movement when it is used in on-page optimization and 0.3 when it is without on-page optimization.

Let us try the same topic with the example in the competition category above. When you search “iced green tea”  there are 697 million results appear on your screen. Meanwhile, when you use a long-tail keyword like “how to make iced green tea latte” you have 7,09 million websites talking about that. Well, even though it is still big, the number drops up to 690 million sites!


Once you use this, you are prepared for people who intentionally look for it. As a result, long-tail keyword searches have been clicked 3 percent higher than the generic ones because you target the specific audience who really need the information.  

For instance, a website talking about general shoes and another about Nike running shoes, the specific brand, and the function you have been looking for. You most likely prefer the last one, right?

That is why landing pages who apply long-tail keywords attain 36 percent of the conversion rate, compared to the landing pages with head keywords that can only convert at 11,45 percent. This type of keyword is effective to generate people within your niche because they feel like they have met “the one” that can answer their needs.

After grasping the information, which one would you like to choose? Is it a head or long-tail keyword? Due to the strong competitiveness of head keywords, it is quite impossible to win “the big boss” for small or medium businesses. In this case, long-tail keywords can help you with the high percentage in the conversion rate.