Ask any SEO professional about short tail keywords, and they will tell you not to bother. In fact, even established large sites find it difficult to rank well for competitive short tail keywords. The advice is to go after the long tail where you can find some keyword phrases where you can rank well. However, there is a method of using the long tail to rank your short tail terms.
First of all, take one of your short tail phrases. Now use one of the many tools online to gather a list of related keywords. To capture all of the keywords you need for this to work, look at the intent and gather keyword phrases for all intents. For example, if the short tail term is “house paint,” then you need keyword phrases that cover buying, selling, types, brands, uses, and techniques.
The process now is to build pages for every single one of those keyword phrases. Each page should have comprehensive coverage of the topic and any and all sub-topics. All of these pages should link back to the main topic page which will rank for the short tail keyword.
You need to them build authority and backlinks to every one of the subpages, which will transfer authority and help improve the ranking for the short tail keyword. Be patient as this process can take time, but with the right content and focus, the main page will slowly rise in the search results.