Long-tail keywords have long been part of any successful search engine optimization strategy. But what makes them so effective? We’ll get there. But first, let’s dive into what they are.
What are long-tail keywords?
To define the phrase in a simplified way, long-tail refers to a search query that is more specific. It’s typically over two or three words in length. Long-tail keywords can be phrases or questions used in search engines, often to find a product or service.
When it comes to an SEO strategy, long-tail keywords must be a primary content marketing weapon. For that reason, you can use keyword research to create content that answers questions for your customers.
How long is a long-tail keyword?
Unfortunately, there is no exact answer for how long a long-tail keyword is. It tends to be longer than two or three words because it takes more words to be more specific. A keyword with a long tail can easily be 5, 10, or even 15 words long. But there is no set rule for the length.
In fact, the phrase long-tail keyword doesn’t really come from the number of words. It comes from specificity.
Imagine that you are looking at the profile of a kangaroo. The creature stands tall and looks to the left. His very, very long tail tapers off to the right.
Let’s say that a line from his toes to his head measures internet search volume. The horizontal line from his toes to the tip of his tail measures the number of search queries.
Research shows that 60.7 percent of search volume or search demand is found in our friend’s heads and shoulders. All that traffic is generated by a tiny number of keywords, 0.16 percent.
The other approximate 40 percent of search traffic is represented by the sloping back and tapering tale of the kangaroo. This percentage involves millions of less popular search terms, keywords, and strings of words.
Long-tail keywords got the name because they are in the long tail of the kangaroo. In SEO jargon, the opposite is called a “head term” or, in contrast to the long-tail keyword, a “short tail.”
Go where the competition doesn’t
Clearly, long-tail phrases don’t generate as much search volume. But a little secret: it can benefit your business and bring you more traffic. Keyword strategy involves identifying the low-competition topics that are hyper-specific to your business and tagging your content with those keywords.
Even with lower search volumes, keyword-rich content can bring excellent SERP results. It can also help you reach your target audience to earn higher conversion rates.
For example, Google’s search results for this broad keyword — ice cream — bring more than 1.6 billion hits. That’s a “head term” that could give your website a brain freeze. People could be looking for recipes, brand names, trends, or variations of your seed keyword.
A related phrase — ice cream shop — a longer long tail, gets 2 billion results. Apparently, every ice cream shop with an online presence is competing to reach the top ranking.
If you refine that search — ice cream shop Pittsburgh — you get a mere 31,000,000 million results. A narrower query — ice cream shop fifth avenue Pittsburgh — brings it down to 1.7 million hits. But even more important than the number is the search intent.
Someone doing that last search is almost certainly interested in buying ice cream on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh. If you sell ice cream on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh, do you want to try to reach that smaller number of searchers or the billions who are interested in ice cream in any form or fashion?
With a more specific keyword, the long tail can provide better click-through rates. This can lead to conversions and potential customers.
How do I develop and execute long-tail SEO?
To execute a long-tail SEO strategy, you need to know your specific goals for your long-tail keywords. Most goals can fall under the following three categories:
- Increase traffic
- Improve conversions
- Build brand loyalty
A seamless and secure way of achieving this is to sign up with a content performance platform like rellify. Its experts will analyze your strategy, content, and website. Then, they’ll develop a plan to help you reach your goals through SEO optimization and in-depth, relevant content that naturally ranks high in search engine results.
Once you understand your goals, you can determine which long-tail keywords from your keyword research can help you achieve the desired results. You can create SEO pages (typically not seen on the main part of your website) and/or blogs that directly target these long-tail keywords.
If your long-tail keywords tend to include questions, you might create an FAQ page or individual blog posts that go over the topics in detail to help achieve all three of these goals. It would help if you also considered how you could link your long-tail keyword back to your head keyword.
Pulling traffic to smaller pages on your website is beneficial. But most importantly, you always want to drive traffic back to your main pages. These pages capture, nurture, and convert your leads into customers.
Let’s go back to an ice cream shop example. The head words in this example would be “ice cream shop.” The long-tail keywords would be, “ice cream shop on Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh.” Whenever you create a page for “ice cream shop on Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh,” you will create an anchor text of “ice cream shop” on the page. This would link back to the main head keyword page. This creates a seamless user experience and drives traffic to other pages on your website.
Long-tail keywords and use intent
Whenever you create content, you need to have your goals in mind. You also need to understand user intent.
Search queries fall into three categories based on intent:
- Transactional: The user wants to find a site and do something, often make a purchase. The user has decided to do something or is all but ready to.
- Informational: The user wants to know something about a topic. Google often includes a direct answer as a no-click option. Businesses can appeal to these users with relevant, in-depth content that includes a call-to-action ending that might move them into the transactional column.
- Navigational: The user wants to go to a particular website. If it’s not your site, there’s almost nothing you can do to pull them your way.
Long-tail phrases don’t necessarily command high search volume, but that can be good for your business. You’re looking for the right traffic, not just any traffic.
How do I find long-tail keywords for SEO?
In order to find your long-tail keywords, you need to conduct keyword research. This is part of every SEO strategy.
Several tools are available at a range of prices, including some that are free. The only way to discover which one works best for you is to test some out and see for yourself.
Google Analytics is one of the best free, keyword search tools available. You can use it to track the traffic coming into your website and understand what keywords drove that specific traffic.
Semrush is a popular paid keyword search tool. Its Keyword Magic Tool allows users to gain access to over 14 million keyword suggestions for a single search query. It promises to find low-competition keywords by analyzing:
- Competitive density: The level of competition between advertisers bidding on a keyword in their PPC campaigns.
- Keyword difficulty: Index that shows how difficult it would be to outrank competitors in Google’s top 20 for a keyword.
- Search volume: Estimate of monthly searches to help you assess potential search engine traffic for a keyword.
- SERP features: The special search results triggered by your keywords, and how many URLs are displayed.
Moz has also gained a large fanbase over the years. Using a powerful algorithm, Moz can display a range of related head keywords and long-tail keywords that relate to the first keyword you type in. Additionally, you can create reports that track these keywords, which is beneficial for your SEO strategy. You only need to set up the search queries once to get monthly results.
How to do long-tail keyword research
To keep this example simple, we will stick with our ice cream shop example. We already know that something like “ice cream shop Main Street” is one possible long-tail keyword. Let’s try to identify three more.
One easy method is to use Google search. Simply go to Google’s home page and begin to type in “ice cream” into the search bar. Google’s autocomplete suggestions will list long-tail keywords that are generating a lot of activity. Depending on your local area, you will begin to see “ice cream near (city/town/neighborhood).” You may also see “ice cream near me.” These are both long-tail keywords that will help you develop effective content for your website.
Likewise, the bottom of the first page of a Google search offers Related Searches. This is a list of long-tail keywords related to your query.
Another method is to use Google Analytics. Once you log in to your dashboard, you can click on Traffic Sources and then Keywords. From there, you will set up a goal, which can then be used to help you analyze your traffic data. Click on Goal Set Up and include as few or as many long-tail keywords as you have discovered. Over time, you will be able to see the conversion rates for each of these keywords. You can use this information to determine which ones are bringing in the most traffic.
Of course, the paid keyword research tools can help you find long-tail keywords. You can even use these keyword suggestions to add to your Google Analytics Goals. Your preferred paid tool will give you an option to search for a head keyword, like “ice cream shop.” From there, it will display data about the average number of searches for numerous related keywords. You can read through the results and determine which keyword variations are relevant for your local area.
Experts on long-tail keywords and more
Long-tail keywords are the bread and butter that your SEO strategy needs to convert qualified leads. People searching for long-tail keyword phrases have a specific user intent. You can easily address their intent with tailored SEO pages or blog posts on your website.
If you’re ready to improve your SEO strategy, contact rellify to learn what high-performing relevant content based on AI-assisted keyword research can do for you.