The Value of Long-Tail Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

For many sites, focusing on generic head keywords can be an exercise in frustration. However, having a long-tail keyword strategy for organic search can make all the difference.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

On a curve showing the size of the search demand, like the one below from ahrefs, the keywords with the largest search demand are positioned at the far left and make up the head, while the keywords with low search demand trail off to the right in what is known as the long tail of search.

Source: ahrefs

Long-tail keywords are typically highly focused and specific queries that include clear search intent. While head keywords are often one or two words and extremely broad in nature, long-tail key phrases are often three or more words. However, it’s important to note that the length of the query does not determine its tail length — the amount of search demand for the query does. 

Long-tail queries often include descriptors like size, color, gender, location, and more. They often are phrased as a question, mimicking the way that people naturally speak. An example of a head keyword is “suv” or even “kia suv,” while a long-tail keyword is “gray kia sportage awd suv.”

Although individual long-tail keywords typically have low search volume, they are also less competitive terms than their head keyword counterparts, which everyone is trying to rank for in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Long-tail phrases typically also have a higher conversion rate, driving a more profitable audience to your site. 

How To Discover Relevant Long-Tail Key Phrases

The good news is that Google gives clues to the types of long tail keywords people search for directly in its search results pages. Moning these for ideas for your seed list is a good place to start. For example, if you sell Kias, your research might look something like this.

First, do some introspection on your company’s unique value proposition. Then, start with the products or services that you offer, and ask yourself what makes your brand stand out from the competition. Begin creating a seed list of potential keywords. 

Try typing your seeds into Google search and see what populates in the autocomplete feature. 

Grab ideas of what people want to know related to your seed term. In this case, the year is clearly important, as is the price and whether it’s a hybrid.

Another place to look for long-tail keyword ideas is in the People also ask section directly in the search results. These can be added to your seed list as well. 

This data shows us that models are important, with a focus on the all-wheel drive functionality and reliability.

At the bottom of the SERPs, check the “Related searches” feature for additional phrases. 

Other tools like AnswerThePublic, Quora, Also Asked, and Semrush can provide even more ideas for long-tail phrases people are searching for that are related to the term you input in the tool. Gather the most relevant phrases from all of these sources, and then input them into Google Keyword Planner or your keyword tool of choice, conducting proper keyword research.

Google Keyword Planner will give you data for each of the terms you input as well as other related long-tail keywords and their accompanying search volume data. Once you’ve done your keyword research, you will want to create a keyword map, identifying the most relevant long-tail keywords for each page on your site. The keyword map gives you a starting point for optimizing your pages, refreshing and reoptimizing pages, and even potential opportunities for creating new content.

Creating Content That Ranks

Once you’ve discovered the long-tail keywords that you want to rank for, you need to determine what type of content to produce. Check to see what types of content are currently ranking in the SERPs for your specific long-tail query in Google. If your search produces primarily informational content, then writing a well-optimized blog post or informative article would be in your best interest. On the other hand, if your long-tail key phrase returns ecommerce category or product pages, you’ll need to write copy for similar pages on your site.

This insight into what is already ranking well in organic search is an excellent guideline as to the quality, length, and type of content you need to create in order to compete. But keep in mind that your content should provide even more value than what exists while providing an excellent user experience, according to Google’s Helpful Content guidelines.

Another practice for improving your SEO copy is reoptimizing existing content on your site and sprinkling these new long-tail keyword concepts into the copy in a way that reads naturally. Don’t just use the keywords; actively answer the questions they represent. 

Once you have optimized your content, measuring your performance with Google Search Console is key. Google Search Console can give you insight into what queries searchers are reaching your pages with. These queries can be possible long-tail keywords that you want to strengthen in your copy. Paying attention to the data can help you refresh your content in a never-ending cycle of optimization.

Reasons To Build an SEO Strategy Around Long-Tail Keywords

Often a long-tail keyword strategy is overlooked by SEOs and marketers vying for top-ranking positions in the SERPs. Using long-tail keywords strategically can help you surpass your competitors by specifically focusing on answering searchers’ intent and optimizing your site with a focus on the long-tail. 

While they may have a lower search volume and drive less traffic overall, long-tail queries are a powerful tool for SEO. The visitors that do land on your page are likely to be the most relevant target audience for your business with a higher probability of converting or making a purchase. While traffic to your site is extremely important, reaching the right type of traffic is more valuable. Rather than obsessing about traffic as your key performance indicator, keep an eye on conversions. 

Organic search ranking is a much easier game to play when optimizing for long-tail keywords. Since they are less competitive, you have a higher chance of boosting your rankings for these specific terms. With the thousands of variations of long-tail keywords, there is plenty of untapped potential in the SERPs for winning those ranking positions on page one. 

Focusing on a long-tail keyword strategy in organic search can provide valuable results in the long run. Remember, SEO is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. So be sure to take your time and optimize for long-tail keywords that have the potential to rank and drive spot-on traffic to your website. People who are searching for these highly specific long-tail queries are more likely to convert, as they know exactly what they want and are further along in the buyer’s journey. Optimize your pages with these long-tail keywords, and answer searcher’s intent – giving them what they came for.

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