Long tail keywords

Selecting the right keywords is of utmost importance to its success. But it’s long-tail keywords that are particularly valuable to small businesses.

What Are Long Tail Keywords?

Unless your website is very established and has built up a significant amount of credibility, the chances of ranking high in search results for a very competitive keyword like “dog toys” or “laptop computers” is very low.

That’s why it’s important to focus on long tail keywords instead.

Google long tail keyword searchLong tail keywords are like regular keywords, but extended. They’re more like natural phrases that a person might type into a search engine, or ask a voice assistant.

So instead of “dog toys”, we might aim for a much more specific keyword: “natural dog chews for puppies”.

You may think that being ranked highly for a specific one-word keyword would provide the best chances of success. But research indicates that may not be the case. In terms of keyword distribution, searches of 5 or more words make up over 40% of all queries, while searches for a single word make up less than 3%.

So although long tail keywords are niche, you can work that to your advantage if you choose the right ones.

Why Focus on Long Tail Keywords?

Why should you use long tail keywords? Because long tail keywords are:

  • Easier to rank for. As discussed in the example above, long tail keywords give you more chance of getting to the first page of search results for something that you sell or provide.
  • Higher chance of conversion. Fewer people search for long tail keywords. But traffic isn’t everything. People who search for very specific things are almost certainly more likely to buy. If someone is searching for “kids trainers”, they are probably just doing some initial research. If they search for “kids red Converse boots size 10”, they’re clearly on a mission to buy.
  • More efficient. Most small businesses don’t have huge marketing budgets. Even if they do, they rarely want to blow the whole lot on hundreds of articles about one thing to cover lots of keyword variations. Long tail is more specific and therefore requires less resource.
  • Easier to write about. Long tail keywords mirror natural conversation. They are easier to get into your website content without looking like you forced them in there.
  • Matched to searcher intent. Writing keyword variants, rather than repeating words robotically, is the best way to create quality content that is well optimised. Website content should always be written with human readers in mind.
  • Pre-optimised for voice search. More of us are using voice search with Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or Google Home. Long tail keywords are ideal for matching these queries because they sound more like something a person would actually say.
  • Easier to link to. When you base an article around a long tail keyword, linking between articles becomes easy. And internal links are crucial; they help visitors to navigate, and they help search engines to understand what your business does.

How to Research Long Tail Keywords

Not all long-tail keywords will lead to riches. Specific is great, but you still need to check that those keywords are going to draw a reasonable amount of traffic to your site.

Finding the right balance between the competitiveness of a keyword compared to its number of monthly searches is crucial.

Google AnalyticsHere’s a long tail checklist:

  • Have a clear idea. Think about your company, product, website, and typical customer. Creating a mission and vision can be a great way to get started if you don’t have one already. What do you want to offer to your audience and what makes your services or products special? Why would people search for your site over any other?
  • Look at your current web traffic. If possible, review search queries. Ask your customers how they found you on Google and what they searched for. Gather information from your helpdesk: what do people want to know?
  • Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. You can use SEO tools to spy on your competitors and see precisely the exact keywords they are targeting. If you don’t want to shell out for tools just yet, just read their content and get a good idea of the keywords they think are important.

Here’s our final tip. Hire an SEO expert. If you’re just starting your website or blog, then maybe the DIY approach will work just fine. But if you’re an established business that has the money, you should consider outsourcing the keyword research process to a consultant or agency.

Research should always tie in with your overall content strategy. Resist the temptation to go for the scattergun approach and randomly target keywords that you think might work. Instead, plan ahead, think about your customers, and write content about the things that are important to them.

Online Keyword Tools

Long tail keyword researcher
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

There are a number of online tools that can help you in completing keyword research and coming up with an optimisation strategy for your website. Some of them are free services, while others are paid.

  • Google’s auto-complete feature is surprisingly helpful. It provides the suggestions that automatically pop up below the search box when you begin typing your query. It’s one of the simplest ways to find long tail keywords and get new ideas. Just type in your primary keyword and browse the recommendations that appear.
  • Google Analytics. When you want to look a bit deeper than the auto-complete tool, Google Analytics is the next great place to look. This free tool has been a favourite of website owners, bloggers, and SEO experts for years and with good reason. It provides invaluable insight into keywords and other trends that help you form a foundational strategy for your website.
  • Ubersuggest. Type in your keywords, select your language, and go. It’s free and offers spreadsheet export.
  • Answer The Public. This website is much like Ubersuggest, but where it really excels is helping you to generate titles for your business blog posts. If you type in a keyword like “chocolate chip cookies”, it will generate a number of common questions to answer the “Five Ws” (who, what, where, when, why and how) that people ask such as “how to make chocolate chips without eggs”, “why are chocolate chip cookies fluffy”, “can chocolate chip cookies cause heartburn” — all great long tail ideas.
  • Keywordtool.io. This tool allows you to search Youtube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, and the App Store. You can also narrow down results to a specific country or language. It allows you to see some popular long tail keywords for free, but unlocking advanced information such as search volume, CPC, and AdWords competition requires a monthly subscription.
  • KWFinder. This allows you to do a couple of free searches per day and provides much of the information that Keywordtool.io locks behind their membership. If you plan carefully, you can get some great free information out of it. But once you hit your search limit, you will need to buy a monthly plan. If you are using a keyword tool on a regular basis to generate blog titles and other web content, KWFinder comes at a budget price of only $29 USD per month.
  • SEMRush. This is a more advanced all-in-one SEO suite that is used by internet marketers and SEO experts. It provides some of the most in-depth SEO information available from any tool online, including generating excellent long tail keywords. However, the cheapest version also costs $100 USD per month.

Final Thoughts on Keywords

The most important thing to remember about keywords is that your customers aren’t robots, and neither are you.

It’s essential that you incorporate long-tail keywords into your content; don’t forget to optimise your existing content for long tail keywords. But your primary goal should always be on developing the best piece of content that you can. If you get the quality right, and you have one important long tail keyword, the rest of the variations will usually fall into place by themselves.

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Dustin Yarc is a freelance writer working with Red Robot Media. He specialises in business, finance, and technical content.
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