What are long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords are search terms that are composed of 4 to 5 words (or even more). And since they are long, they clearly describe the intent and problem of user’s search queries. In simple terms, long tail keywords provide a clear indication of what the search user is looking for.
Let’s look at an example here.
When a user searches for ‘7 day keto challenge,’ they are probably ready to incorporate the keto diet into their meal plan. Most probably, they are looking for a keto diet schedule that they should be having for the next 7 days.
Even though the keyword has a lower search volume, the content ranking for this keyword will usually have a high conversion value because of the match of intent.
Whereas when you search for its head term ‘keto’ or ‘keto diet, you will notice how both competition and search volume is high here.
The problem with the head term is that there is no specific intent involved i.e. is the person looking for ready made keto diet or is she looking for cooking guidance, or diet schedule. It will always remain a guess.
To summarize, because long-tail keywords use more words, they tend to explain the need better. That means as a content strategist, you can frame better content that satisfies this need, resulting in more user engagement and action.
And that’s the biggest benefit of targeting long tail keywords.
Why use long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords are often referred to as the holy grail of SEO.
Long-tail keywords are how users interact with search engines. They generally tend to ask long and detailed questions rather than using one- or two-word queries.
It helps them get relevant answers to their questions.
Thus, long tail keywords have the potential to bring organic traffic that converts better.
To better understand, let’s look at some of the benefits of long-tail keywords for your SEO.
#1: Represent a better match of how searches happen on the internet
Google is continually trying to refine its search results to provide the most relevant information to its users.
Let’s say you are a fashion monger. When you search ‘jackets,’ Google lays out varieties of jackets in different colors.
This is a broad topic.
However, when you search for ‘red denim jacket,’ it precisely displays posts on red jackets. It narrows down the Google search.
Google is trying to match the exact phrase more often now.
Thus, long-tail keywords tend to bring in refined results that a user is expecting. That means targeting long tail keywords help you send right signals to Google and improve your chance of ranking.
#2: Match users’ ‘search intent’ better
When Google rolled out its Rankbrain and BERT updates, it completely changed how search results are displayed.
Long before, keywords stuffing was your primary weapon. But that isn’t anymore.
Google is now using machine learning to better understand users’ search intent. Search intent is nothing but the reason behind a user query.
In simpler words, users are typically searching for one of the following reasons: to learn something, to buy something, or to go somewhere.
For instance, when someone looks for ‘buy red denim jacket,’ they probably have the intent to buy it.
Through the long-tail keywords, users are expressing their intent to purchase products online. And that’s why you see Amazon as the first result.
And this is the biggest benefit of long-tail keywords. The traffic that they bring is more targeted and has a higher chance of converting.
#3: Provides more context to content as compared to short-tail keywords
With every algorithm update, Google has pushed itself towards contextual search. It favors those articles where the context is clear.
Long-tail keywords help Google understand the context of the content. It helps determine the topic and the specificity of certain content.
When you target both a short-tail keyword ‘jacket’ and a long-tail keyword ‘how to style red denim’ in your article, it provides more context around the content.
You may not rank for ‘jacket’ or “denim”, but you may start ranking for “how to style a red jacket”. That’s the beauty of using long-tail keywords.
Remember, in the end, it’s still about matching the best result or answer to a specific query.
#4: Long-tail keywords are less competitive and easier to rank for
As I have mentioned previously, long-tail phrases have less competition as compared to short terms.
For instance, a short-tail keyword like ‘red jacket’ has over two billion search results on Google and a high organic difficulty score.
Clearly, you will have to beat the fierce competition if you want to rank for position #1 in Google.
But, when you search for ‘red jacket mens clothing,’ it narrows down the search result to three hundred million and a lower organic difficulty.
Thus, it becomes easier to rank for long-tail keywords with lower competition.
#5: Gives new ideas for your blog post
Maintaining a blog is one of the most effective ways to rank on search engines.
But that also means that you need to constantly generate ideas to write your post.
That’s why you need long-tail keywords to keep creating content. For instance, when you type ‘wear a red denim jacket,’ Google suggests you some more ideas users are often looking for.
Now you have enough ideas to create your blog posts for a month now.
Pro tip: Don’t try to overstuff keywords. Use long-tail keywords in the correct context within the URL, body text, and title tag.
#6: Helpful for ranking for voice searches
The use of voice search is vastly increasing. When we converse with a smart device, we generally tend to ask a whole question rather than just using a couple of words.
For instance, while using Alexa, our first instinct to ask would be –
‘Hey Alexa, how do I pair my red denim jacket?’
Long-tail keywords can help you train for these voice assistants. It completes a question and provides information to mobile queries.
That’s why when optimizing for voice search, you shouldn’t ignore long-tail keywords.
How to find long-tail keywords?
Here are the seven most popular ways to find long-tail keywords:
At the bottom of Google’s search result page, you will see a section called ‘Searches related to…’
It provides you with more keyword suggestions related to the one you have entered.
You have to do nothing. Simply enter a keyword that you want to rank for.
And then, scroll to the bottom of the page. You will get a good amount of other long-tail keywords that you can target.
Easy, isn’t it?
Quora is your crowdsourced Q&A site.
Once you have logged into Quora, enter a long-tail keyword into the search bar at the top.
It will show up a list of popular questions related to that topic. Some of the questions will have high-volume keywords that you can target.
#3. Answer The Public
Answer The Public is your go-to tool if you want to discover what people are asking about. It generates question-focused keywords.
Simply enter a broad term into the field and click ‘Get Questions.’
It will display results with questions that people usually ask related to that topic.
You can even download the data as a CSV.
#4. Google Autocomplete
When you use Google search box, you must have noticed how it drops down a list of suggested keywords.
It is one of the quickest ways to find the most relevant long-tail keywords as these suggestions come straight from Google.
#5. People Also Ask boxes
‘People Also Ask’ boxes are again another popular way to discover question keywords.
When you search for a keyword in Google Search, you will notice in some cases, Google displays’ People also ask…’ box in the SERPs. Keep an eye on it.
These are the questions that people generally ask around the topic you have searched for.
This is another easy way to find question keywords.
Besides, when you expand one of the questions, Google shows you even more questions.
#6. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service tool that shows you how your website is performing.
It is also the place where you can find relevant keywords that you can target.
When you scroll down the performance report, you will see a section of ‘Query.’
It contains a list of keywords that you already rank for. Most often, you will come across long tail keywords that you never planned to get ranked for.
This is a goldmine of information and you should now use these long tail keywords to either optimize the existing content piece or write a new but more detailed content targeting the keyword.
#7. Google Trends
Whenever you are planning to launch an SEO campaign, Google Trends can help you know whether people are interested in that topic.
It’s very simple to use.
First, enter the keyword you are targetting.
The tool will show you ‘interest over time.’ These results are based on search volumes.
You can easily study if the search volume for a particular term keeps fluctuating or remains stable.
When it keeps fluctuating, you can guess that it’s a seasoned product. Or, there might have been some circumstances.
And when you scroll down to ‘Related Queries,’ you will find more trending keyword suggestions. So you get a whole set of long tail keywords, along with their trends.
How to use long-tail keywords?
Now that you have identified the long tail keywords, the next step is to learn how to use them within your content.
#1: Use OnPage Champ to understand how competitors are using long-tail keywords
Once you have identified your keywords, the first step involves analyzing the websites that already rank on top of Google for the selected keywords.
You need to find out what type of content ranks for those long-tail keywords.
In many instances, an article ranks for some other keyword, even though they had optimized for a specific focus keyword.
Plus, identify the type of content that is ranking i.e. is it a product/service page or a blog post, what’s the content length, is the page targeting the exact match keyword or a related keyword, and so on.
You can use OnPage Champ to do this entire research in just a matter of seconds.
Just enter the keyword and target location, and see what the top SERPs are doing to their content.
#2: Build content around long-tail keywords
When you have a long-tail keyword to target, you can create a new blog post around that term.
Optimize your content with the keyword. And if the competition is relatively low, you will find yourself ranking on Google’s first page pretty soon.
Caveat: Ranking for long-tail keywords comes with a downside sometimes. If the keyword search volume is low, the chances are that you won’t get high traffic. Thus, you will need to create a lot of articles optimized around long-tail keywords to bring more traffic to your site.
#3: Optimize on-page parameters and content for long-tail keywords
When you are trying to rank for long-tail keywords, you need to place it in the body strategically. However, just adding keywords to your content is not just enough.
You need to optimize your on-page parameters to achieve better rankings. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Put the keyword in the H1 tag & within the Title Tag
- Include a close variation in the meta description
- Include exact match/LSI keywords in H2/H3 (wherever possible)
- Optimize the URL with your target keyword
- Write image alt-text relevant to the focus keyword
Myths surrounding long-tail keywords
Myth #1: You should optimize content only for long-tail keywords
Write on a topic, focus on one long tail keyword but don’t forget about short tail keywords.
Google works mysteriously and you will often see your content ranking for more than one keyword. And as your content gains authority, you will see it ranking for short tail keywords as well.
For that to happen, you need to cover topics, not just keywords. That’s how Google ranks content now.
Myth #2: Focus on only one long-tail keyword
Let me get this straight.
If you try to over-optimize for only one long-tail keyword, you risk getting penalized by Google. Yes, keyword stuffing is black hat SEO now.
I’m not saying don’t target a main long-tail keyword. But when you write a topic around it, have instances of related LSI and long-tail keywords as well.
You can focus on related long-tail keywords and can still create traffic from one post, by targeting multiple long-tail keywords.
Myth #3: Every long-tail keyword is easy to rank for
Is it so?
There’s a general misconception that it is easier to rank for long-tail keywords.
Not every long-tail keyword has a low volume. When a long-tail keyword is itself a broader topic, it can have high competition.
For example, the keyword ‘on-page seo tools’ shows a ranking difficulty of XYZ on UberSuggest.
It’s a long tail keyword with very clear search intent, at the same time super competitive to rank for.
Myth #4: Every long-tail keyword is pocket friendly
Long-tail keywords may have low search volume, but it might still have high CPC (cost-per-click).
Look at the CPC for the keyword ‘long tail keyword research tools.’
Long-tail keywords have low volume, but it gives a higher ROI than short keywords. A person clicking on it has a higher probability of converting as long-tail keywords better match a user’s search intent.
Thus, more and more business owners will try to bid on those keywords.
Since CPC is dependent on how many people bid for it and not on its search volume, the cost is bound to go high.
So, what’s the next step?
Now that you know how to research and optimize your content around long-tail keywords, the only step left is to start taking action.
Create awesome content around it and improve your site ranking.