Long-Tail Keywords: The Hidden Gem of SEM

In the ever-changing, complex world of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), it’s easy to get caught up in pursuing high-volume keywords. After all, they offer significant traffic and visibility. However, if you are narrow-sighted and focus solely on the popular or more general keywords, it can cause you to overlook an undervalued gem of SEM: long-tail keywords. These specific, low-volume terms may not attract vast amounts of traffic, but they hold the key to higher conversion rates, less competitive bidding, and, most importantly, getting the right customers to your website.

Understanding Long-Tail Keywords

In SEM, keywords are classified into three types: head, body, and long tail. The first two, head and body, are what are known as short-tail keywords. Head keywords are usually single-word terms with high search volume and competition. Body keywords consist of two-to-three-word phrases with moderate search volume and competition. However, long-tail keywords are longer phrases, typically four words or more, with low search volume and competition.

Long-tail keywords are highly specific and more niche. They often signal a user’s intent to purchase or find precise information. 

Here are a few examples of short-tail versus long-tail keywords:

The Power of Long-Tail Keywords in SEM

Here are some compelling reasons to include long-tail keywords in your SEM strategy:

  • Potential Savings: Long-tail keywords generally have less competition, which means lower cost-per-click (CPC) in your SEM campaigns. This can translate to significant savings in your advertising budget.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: Because long-tail keywords are more specific, they tend to attract users who are further along in the buying cycle and can attract people who are actually interested in what your website has to offer. This means that while the total number of clicks may be lower, the percentage of those clicks that convert into sales is often much higher. A user searching for ‘women’s waterproof hiking boots size ‘ is much more likely to make a purchase than someone simply searching for ‘boots’. 
  • Improved Quality Score: Google rewards relevancy. By using long-tail keywords that closely match your offering, your ad relevancy increases. This, in turn, improves your Quality Score, can lower your CPC, and improve your ad ranking.
  • Improved Local Search: As more consumers use the internet to find products and businesses in their area, targeting those long-tail keywords that contain your local city can increase your chance of these potential customers finding you.

Real-World Application of Long-Tail Keywords

A great example of the successful application of long-tail keywords can be found in Amazon’s SEM strategy on Google. As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon targets long-tail keywords that are highly specific to the products they sell. For instance, instead of bidding on a short-tail keyword like ‘laptop’, Amazon might focus on long-tail keywords, such as ‘Dell XPS 13 9310 laptop’ or ‘MacBook Pro 16 inch with Apple M1 Pro’.

By targeting such highly specific keywords, Amazon attracts users who know exactly what they want and are likely ready to purchase, leading to higher conversion rates. This strategy has also allowed Amazon to maintain a dominant position in search engine results for a vast range of products.

Five Ways to Implement Long-Tail Keywords in Your SEM Strategy

Implementing long-tail keywords in your SEM strategy involves in-depth keyword research and continuous optimization. A “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality won’t help you here.

Below are five steps to get you started:

  1. Conduct Keyword Research: Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to find long-tail keywords relevant to your business. Look for keywords that have a reasonable search volume, low competition, and align with your product or service offerings.
  2. Search Query Reports: If you already have a current search campaign running, try running a Search Query Report. This report shows you the actual search terms that potential customers used to trigger your ads. This is a goldmine for discovering long-tail keywords that are relevant to what you have to offer. Try to understand the intent behind the search queries. Are users looking for information or comparison? Are they ready to purchase? Align your ad copy and landing pages with this intent to boost conversions.
  3. Google Autocomplete: Another excellent method for finding long-tail keywords is by using Google’s Autocomplete feature. Simply enter a short-tail keyword into the search engine, and as you type, Google’s longer-tailed suggestions will automatically appear, as you can see in the example below.

  4. Related Searches: Once you have entered your short-tail search term, scroll down to find Google’s Related searches. These terms can give you an idea of other long-tail keywords your target audience might be using. See the example below.

  5. Monitor and Optimize: Regularly track the performance of your long-tail keywords. Are they driving traffic and conversions? Are they cost-effective? Use this data to continually refine and optimize your long-tail keyword strategy.

While long-tail keywords may not attract the most traffic, their potential for high conversion rates and cost-effective bids make them an invaluable asset in SEM. By understanding and leveraging the power of long-tail keywords, businesses can significantly improve their SEM performance and achieve a greater return on investment. Plucking these lower-hanging fruit opportunities can significantly boost your visibility and attract more qualified traffic to your website.

Long-tail keywords might be hidden gems, but their impact on SEM is undeniably profound. If your business is implementing an organic search strategy alongside an SEM campaign, read our previous blog post, “The Value of Long-Tail Keywords for Your SEO Strategy.”

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