In search marketing, long-tail keywords can produce tremendous results if you know how to use them properly. They account for 70% of web searches, so the SEO benefits of long-tail keywords are obvious.
Whether you’re new to SEO and keyword research or you’re a seasoned pro looking for some tips, read on to find out why long-tail keywords are so fundamental to your strategy.
What is a long-tail keyword?
When we talk about search terms or keywords that we might want within a digital marketing strategy, we are talking about a range of terms across a search market which your customers use to find your product or service. Long-tail keywords will make up the bedrock of your strategy and open the doors to more opportunities.
Let’s use mortgages as an example. ‘Mortgages’, ‘compare mortgages’ and ‘buy to let mortgages’ all have huge monthly search volumes. However, ‘first-time buyer mortgages, remortgage advice for over 60s’ and ‘corporate buy to let mortgages’ have much smaller monthly search volumes because they’re more specific. The latter are our long-tail keywords.
What are the SEO benefits of long-tail keywords?
When these search terms are plotted on a graph in order of search volume, you’ll see that the broader terms form the ‘head’ and the more specific ones string out into a ‘long tail’. That’s where the name has come from.
Long-tail keywords usually represent a customer who is closer to a buying decision. They’re more educated about the product or service they need and, provided that your ad and/or landing page content address that need, conversion rates are much higher too.
The net result of those factors is usually:
- More leads and sales from long-tail keywords versus those in the head
- Lower cost per conversion from long-tail keywords than those in the head
In most keyword markets and therefore search marketing campaigns, adding the volume of traffic in the long tail and comparing that to the volume of traffic in the head almost always reveals that there’s much more traffic in the former. It’s just spread across dozens or often hundreds of search queries or keywords.
7 reasons to target long-tail keywords
Targeted correctly, long-tail keywords have a plethora of benefits for your SEO strategy. Here are just some of them.
1. Cheaper cost per click
Long-tail keywords have one very clear advantage: there’s less competition for them. Everyone wants to optimise a page for ‘fish tank’, but only a small percentage of them will be optimising a page or blog post for ‘best fish tank for tropical fish’. In the PPC world, less competition means your cost per click is reduced, saving you money while you bring relevant traffic to your site.
2. Easier to rank ahead of your competition
By optimising and ranking for long-tail keywords, you are more likely to have less competition when getting there. This not only means it will be easier to sneak up the SERPs, but it will also put you ahead of your competitors as you’ll be dominating in places they are not.
You may also notice that your long-tail keywords already incorporate the broader head term, too (or a variation of it). This means that while you’re increasing your brand awareness, traffic and domain authority, you’re indirectly increasing your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs for the broader terms without even trying! How’s that for a win-win?
3. Driving relevant traffic to your site
Specific, more descriptive searches are only going to drive relevant traffic, which is what every good SEO strategy needs. These searches show that the user knows exactly what they want and so your target audience is more likely to click on them.
There’s no point in driving hundreds of thousands of users to your site if they’re not going to convert. In this case, the quality of traffic is much more important than the quantity, and that’s what a long tail keyword strategy can provide your business with.
4. Increased page relevance
It’s well known that the more relevant and trustworthy your page, the more likely it is to rank, right? Well, by implementing a strategy with long-tail keywords, you are ensuring your page is relevant to the query, which benefits your SEO. It’s in your brand’s best interests to present relevant pages to attract those more likely to convert. Plus, it’s in a search engine’s best interests to find the most relevant pages for users.
5. More likely to win featured snippets
There’s more than one way to dominate the SERPs – long-tail keywords provide a great way of going after featured snippets. The People Also Ask box, information panels and more all provide more exposure for your brand. Think about your target audience’s burning questions and create content that answers them using long-tail keywords.
6. More likely to show up with voice search queries
In 2020, Google has reported that 20% of queries on its mobile app are using voice searches. This rise of voice search and smart technology is changing the way people search and so SEO is having to adapt.
Instead of typing short-hand into a search box, we use natural language when asking questions out loud. Long-tail keywords are favoured in this sphere because the queries are much more niche, so optimising for these can only benefit you.
7. More Google Shopping visibility
If you’re optimising for Google Shopping campaigns, you’ve probably noticed that long-tail searches are more common. This is because, unlike search campaigns, the matching algorithm is more organic. On the Google Shopping platform you’re bidding on your inventory, which Google automatically matches with search queries. Using the long tail here is recommended so that searchers can find your products.
How to find your long-tail keywords
Coming up with long-tail keywords is very straightforward – which is great when they can really benefit your SEO strategy.
A great place to start is Google itself. Type in your fat-head keyword and see what the autofill suggests. You can even preface your keyword with phrases like ‘how to’ and ‘why’ to find out what people are looking for.
On any of these searches, you will also find related searches and the People Also Ask box. These are goldmines for content ideas.
There are also plenty of tools to use when figuring out the search volumes for your long-tail keywords. Ubersuggest is a free tool that allows you to see monthly search volumes and how fierce the competition is. You can also search a domain name to get an insight into your competitors’ strategies.
Google has its own keyword planner, but you do need a Google Ads account to access it. It works much the same as Ubersuggest only you can type multiple keywords at the same time. Both platforms will also provide you with alternative keyword suggestions.
You can even use Google Trends to find your keywords. This has the added benefit of allowing you to see seasonal trends so you can figure out the best time to post your content.
Don’t forget keywords in the head
While long-tail keywords will provide countless benefits to your SEO strategy, it wouldn’t be wise to completely disregard the more common keywords. Optimising some content for these will ensure that people can gain familiarity and trust in your brand.
Any good strategy will have a mix of both. Missed opportunities will be detrimental to your leads and conversions.
The most effective long-tail keyword strategy
Targeting long-tail keywords will enhance any SEO strategy, but remember to pay attention to intent behind users’ searches. Be sure to optimise long tails for:
- Users with a strong buying intent through paid search, Google Shopping and SEO
- Users with lower intent, like research queries, with great content and optimisation for organic rankings
As with everything, balance is essential. Targeting terms in the head with paid search is great if you have the budget. But most of all, remember that the more present your brand and site is, the higher the conversion rate you can expect.
How do you go about researching your long-tail keywords? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @TeamTillison. If you have any questions or would like to know more about our SEO services, send us an email today using the button below.