Long-Tail Keywords - What Are They Good For?
Today's content landscape is extremely competitive - so how can you optimize your content to reach your audience? The answer may be going after the less popular search terms.
If you work in digital marketing, you’re probably very familiar with keywords and their important role in SEO. To put it simply, keywords are an essential tool for helping users find your website. But did you know that you can go so much further than just using your standard (what we’ll refer to in this article as “head”) keywords?
By using long-tail keywords, you can potentially improve your search rankings even more and reach more relevant users with higher chances of converting. Sound good? Then keep reading to find out everything you need to know about long-tail keywords and how you can use them to your advantage.
What are Long-Tail Keywords?
When you think of a keyword, it’s likely that you imagine terms like “dog food,” “sectional sofa,” or “social media marketing.” Well, these are what we’d call head keywords. Head keywords are (often - not always) pretty short, usually consisting of between one and three words.
This is in contrast to long-tail keywords, which are - you guessed it - longer, often being three or four words long or even longer. Long-tail keywords are often phrased as questions or are otherwise more specific and granular than their short-tail counterparts.
For example, long-tail keywords might sound something like this:
● Hypoallergenic dog food brands
● Sectional sofa with chaise
● How does social media marketing work
Now, we don’t want to mislead you into thinking that long-tail keywords are called that because of their length - they’re not. In fact, long-tail keywords can be just two or three words long.
Rather, “long-tail” refers to where these keywords sit on a graph of keyword search volume. As opposed to the smaller number of more popular keywords, they live on the much longer section with a smaller amount of monthly searches - what might appear, when graphed, to look something like a kangaroo tail. Most searches (like 95% most) are for long-tail keywords.
That being said, long-tail keywords are usually longer than the more popular head keywords, so if it helps you to remember the difference to think of it that way, we won’t tell anybody.
So, yes, long-tail keywords get fewer searches per month than head keywords, but they’re no less powerful when it comes to digital marketing. Let us explain why.
The Importance of Long-Tail Keywords
Like we mentioned above, long-tail keywords make up nearly 95% of internet searches, so why would you ignore them in your digital marketing strategy? In fact, using them can offer you several benefits that we’ll explain below.
They Help Guide Your Content
If you publish a blog with the goal of being ranked high in web searches, you’ll have to post content regularly. But even if your blog is generally related to a certain head keyword like, let’s say, solo female travel, you can’t just write dozens and even hundreds of blog posts about that very general topic - you’ll have to go more granular at some point in order to have stuff to write about.
Well, long-tail keywords are great at giving you ideas for what to center your content around. By doing long-tail keyword research, you’ll find out what people who are interested in solo female travel are more specifically interested in, including topics like:
● Best solo vacations for females
● First time solo female travel destinations
● Senior woman traveling alone
This information can help you write content that can reach the people searching for these terms, capturing valuable traffic, while also giving you ideas for what to write about.
They’re Less Competitive
Let’s be honest, the chances of you ranking on the first page of search results for the head keyword “education” is pretty low. Sure, you could put lots of time and resources toward it, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.
But when you optimize for long-tail keywords, your chances of ranking on the first page and even as the very first search results get much higher. That’s because these keywords are so much more specific that there are just fewer competitors out there trying to rank for them.
SEO-wise, long-tail keywords help you swim in a smaller pond, giving you a much better chance of being the biggest fish.
There Are So Many of Them
Like we mentioned above, nearly 95% of online searches are done for long-tail keywords. So while ranking high for a single long-tail keyword may only help you capture a relatively small amount of traffic, an SEO strategy focused on long-tail keywords can collectively add up to a pretty hefty chunk of traffic.
How to Use Long-Tail Keywords
So now that you know about the power of long-tail keywords, you’re probably wondering how you can use them to improve your search results. Here is a quick guide to help you out.
Long-Tail Keyword Research
The first step of long-tail keyword SEO is finding the keywords that you want to try and rank for. There are several ways to find these. In your favorite keyword planner, we recommend typing in your head keyword and then sorting by volume to go from least to most. To start out with, it’s probably best to look for keywords with a search volume of between 10 and 300 searches per month.
If your keyword planner allows you to look for searches phrased as a question, this is also a great way to find long-tail keywords that are easy to create content for and capture high-intent users.
Another option is to find keywords that your competitors rank for rather than starting with a specific head keyword.
Incorporating Long-Tail Keywords
Once you’ve found a list of long-tail keywords that you want to rank for and are relevant to your website, what do you do next?
Luckily, the SEO principles that you’re probably already familiar with apply here, too. Use your long-tail keyword in your website pages, doing your best to make use of it in headers, alt tags, and meta descriptions.
Often, a single long-tail keyword can correspond to a single page or blog post. For example, the long-tail keyword “sudoku strategies for hard puzzles” can make for a great stand-alone piece of content. That being said, not all long-tail keywords will be able to justify an entire page of their own, so use your judgment when deciding how to build out your content. As always, make sure that your content is valuable and easy to understand above all else.
Something else to keep in mind is that long-tail keywords are incredibly helpful for internal link-building, another element that can really help boost your SEO. Whenever you can, link from your long-tail keyword-centered pages to pages that you have on your site that are built out to rank for head keywords. This will help Google understand your site structure and improve the SEO of both types of pages.
A Word of Warning
The thing about long-tail keywords is that they can be very specific. And while, in many ways, this can be good, it can also make it tricky to use the keywords multiple times in your content in a way that sounds natural. Creating content that repeats the keyword “leak repair” ten times throughout it is much easier than doing the same with the long-tail keyword “transmission fluid leak repair cost Albany.”
For that reason, we want to caution you against throwing aside basic, important SEO principles - like prioritizing readability and customer experience over keyword stuffing - for the sake of using long-tail keywords.
As long as you keep the user experience in mind when delving into the world of long-tail keyword marketing, you should remain golden.