You may have heard the term long tail keywords when it comes to SEO, but perhaps you’re not really sure what they are, how they work or why people are targeting them.
In this article we will attempt to shed some light on long tail keywords, why smart SEOs are targeting them and how you can use them in your SEO strategies. If used correctly, they can help to bring more targeted visitors to your site, resulting in higher conversion rates and more customers.
What is a long tail keyword?
Right, let’s get down to brass tacks. ‘Long tail keywords’ is a term used to describe keyword phrases that are highly specific. Typically a longtail keyword has more than 4-5 words in the query string and many come in the form of a question.
To get a really good understanding of what long tail keywords are imagine a comet. There’s a busy furious head with lots of exciting action happening up the front. Then there’s the tail – this trails off like a funnel and as it does, the amount of energy, excitement and action falls off according to the size of the tail. This is the same concept for long tail keywords.
At the head of the comet are all the very high-level keyword terms like cars, real estate, TV, etc. They’re usually one or two word search strings and very broad (i.e. not specific). There are three important factors to understand as keywords move their way down the tail:-
- keyword terms get longer (more words in them)
- they tend to be more specific (more targeted)
- the competition for these terms reduce (easier to rank for)
What’s the difference between a long tail keyword and a normal keyword?
For this article we’re going to use a keyword that everyone will no doubt understand. In almost every living room in Australia is a TV. Now let’s pretend for a minute that you’re a store that sells TVs on the north side of Brisbane and you’re trying to figure out what keywords to target for SEO on your website.
Let’s look at a practical example of how long tail search terms differ from your everyday garden variety keyword.
At the head of the comet might be a high level, very broad keyword term like ‘TV’. About halfway down the tail, a different type of search might be ‘Samsung QLED TV’ – we would call this a keyword variation. Then towards the end of the tail the keyword search might be ‘Samsung QLED TV suppliers in north Brisbane’. This last keyword would be what you call a long tail keyword.
Let’s take a look at these search terms from a search engine's point of view. We’re going to take into account the amount of people typing this term into a search engine every month and the number of results in Google.
|Search term||Number of searches per month||Results in Google|
|TV||100K – 1M||6,870,000,000|
|Samsung QLED TV||1K – 10K||6,440,000|
|Samsung QLED TV suppliers in north Brisbane||10 – 100||985,000|
Now let’s look at the difference between ranking on the first page of a major search engine for these three search terms:-
The first thing you will notice is that there are a lot more people searching for the term 'TV'. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that ranking on the first page of Google for this term would mean loads of traffic to your website, which on the surface is great however, if we dig a little deeper we may discover it’s not quite as good as it seems.
Let’s think about the term 'TV' for a moment. This keyword term is very broad, meaning that someone looking for the term 'TV' in a search engine could be looking for information about the history of the TV, the way TVs work, analog TV, digital TV, pictures of a TV or even an online TV guide for tonight’s programs.
Because this term is so broad, we have no real understanding of what the user is trying to find out by typing this into a search engine, other than it has something to do with TVs.
So if you were to work really hard on your SEO and potentially spend loads of money getting your website onto the first page of Google for the term TV, you will probably find out very quickly that much of the traffic you’re generating is untargeted (particularly if you’re a TV shop on the north side of Brisbane!).
Keyword variation: Samsung QLED TV
OK, so this keyword term is starting to get a little more targeted as we have a better understanding of what people are looking for. Someone who types this into a search engine will most likely be looking either for information or a place to buy this type of television.
If your website sells or has information, reviews and user opinions about this particular make of television, then your site is well on its way of covering the broad spectrum of information people are intending to find when they type the term 'Samsung QLED TV' into a search engine.
Longtail Keyword: Samsung QLED TV suppliers in north Brisbane
Granted, this term is not searched for a lot however, this search has a very logical and deliberate reason behind the words used to make up the search phrase. If your website provides an opportunity for the person typing in this search term to find out, purchase or somehow fulfil their search term in a way that is relevant and timely, this will give you the ability to present your website to a target that is more likely to purchase, click or sign up to an opportunity you provide digitally.
Why keyword intent is a hugely important factor in SEO
Now that we have three different examples of keywords (1. a keyword, 2. a keyword variation and 3. a long tail keyword) let’s take a look at the intent behind these search terms.
TV is a term that is incredibly broad – we don’t really understand what the searcher is looking for. This means that this keyword is pretty untargeted. They could be looking for a wide range of things relating to the term TV. You may get a whole bunch of traffic coming to your website using that term, but you won’t get many conversions.
Samsung QLED TV is getting a little better. We’re starting to form a bit more of an idea about what this person is looking for. Even so, it’s still fairly broad as they may be looking for images, technical information or a video showing the quality of the image – we don’t really know.
Samsung QLED TV suppliers in north Brisbane is a great example of good keyword intent. If we think about what this user is trying to find or what answer they’re trying to get, we have a very clear understanding.
This is what understanding keyword intent is all about. Thinking about the reason behind the search and the answers that people are trying to find.
Targeting the long tail
If you are operating in a highly competitive space, or you are just launching your website, it may be beneficial to optimise your website for long tail search terms. Instead of spending all your time and money trying to get your website on the first page of Google for a broad keyword that will drive a lot of untargeted traffic with a very low conversion rate, you may find it more beneficial to build several pages, each trying for long tail terms that are not as competitive.
This also has the added advantage in that it will be likely your website will rank quicker for these terms as there isn’t as much competition.
Reducing risk of SEO failure
The other added benefit of targeting the long tail is that you will naturally build up the content on your website, enabling search engines to drive traffic from a wide range of pages, instead of trying to get your homepage to number one for a competitive term.
If you place your SEO success on a narrow range of competitive keywords, what happens to your traffic when you get bumped to page two of Google? Your entire lead generation machine can die almost overnight if Google tweaks their algorithm and you get bumped off the first page.
By generating a wide range of content that builds up the content relevancy of your website you will drive traffic from a wide range of pages, so if one page was to get bumped over to the second page of Google, it’s not going to have a huge affect on your search referrals.
Where to find long tail keywords
There are many tools you can use to find long tail keywords however one of the better ones is a Google Suggest Scraper. This will generate keywords based on Google’s suggestion engine.
Personally I use http://betterwaytoweb.com/google-suggest-scraper and find it very useful. When using this tool I will use this method of searching:-
Keyword + with
Keyword + for
Here are just a few results from that search to give you an idea of the different types of long tail keywords you can generate.
- Samsung QLED TV for sale
- Samsung QLED TV for android
- Samsung QLED TV for amazon
- Samsung QLED TV for business
- Samsung QLED TV for computer
- Samsung QLED TV for cash
- Samsung QLED TV for dummies
- Samsung QLED TV for dish
- Samsung QLED TV with bluetooth
- Samsung QLED TV with chromecast
- Samsung QLED TV with dvd player
- Samsung QLED TV with dvd
- Samsung QLED TV with hdmi
- Samsung QLED TV with hdmi cable
- Samsung QLED TV with iphone
- Samsung QLED TV with iphone 6
- Samsung QLED TV with kodi
Create them yourself
The other way to generate long tail keywords is to think about the questions that people might ask about a particular product or service. There’s always going to be a long list of questions about different products or servers and for the most part you will probably be able to think about most of them if you put yourself into your customer's shoes. If you’re struggling to think of questions there are lots of places online that you can find them.
Forums are a great place to start. Search places like Whirlpool or look for industry/product specific forums. Some other great places to look for questions are Quora, Yahoo Answers, Google Answers and simply Answers.
Long tail keywords are an important part of your overall SEO strategy and you should really consider integrating them into your content to help round out your copy to help it become more relevant and rankable by search engines.
Most importantly, playing in the long tail is easier to rank for and will garner more conversions so really... it’s a no-brainer.