Search engine marketing truly has an incredible potential for reach. The sheer number of people out there in your target demographic, just waiting to be organically captured through their Google searches by some kind of keyword strategy – it’s nothing short of mind-boggling.
Unfortunately, the sheer number of brands and companies vying for their attention is mind-boggling too. You’re probably not going anywhere with an SEO strategy revolving around the keyword “summer clothes” when a million and one other fashionable companies are fighting for a piece of the pie.
That’s why long-tail keywords are definitely the next-generation strategy you should be implementing to ensure that your content gets the visibility it needs!
Let’s dive deep into long-tail keywords and demonstrate how these extra-detailed strings can benefit your marketing strategy.
Shorter and Longer?
Why are they called short-tail and long-tail keywords?
Many people start off thinking that it has something to do with the length of the keywords. After all, short-tail keywords are usually made of 1-3 words, and long-tail keywords are 4 words and up. That’s kind of true, but not exactly why these keywords are called such.
However, short-tail and long-tail actually refer to the different ends of a search volume distribution graph. Short-tail keywords represent the “short” end of the graph, where the majority of search volume is situated.
Meanwhile, long-tail keywords are all the way to the “long” side of the demand curve, meaning that they represent keywords with low search volume, entered into search engines far fewer times than short-tail keywords.
However, search volume, in this case, doesn’t intuitively correspond to page views.
In fact, as much as 70% of all traffic that comes from organic searches will have originated in a long-tail keyword search that zoomed in on a particular niche.
Advantages of Long-Tail Keywords
If you somehow need further convincing even after learning that most traffic will be coming from long-tail searches, here’s a list of some of the things that make a long-tail strategy so effective.
1. You’re Up Against Fewer Competing Brands
That “summer clothes” keyword strategy up there won’t work because there’s probably a hundred other clothing brands out there selling summer products – your site will be buried somewhere in page 5 of your SERPs if you try to work this out.
A long-tail keyword strategy like “summer clothes for teenagers in Albuquerque” would face you off against a much smaller competitive market, as there’s a much smaller number of sites out there that will be going for this niche.
2. They’re Far More Targeted
A long-tail keyword ticks a lot of checkboxes that potential searchers might be looking for. If you’re an Albuquerque-based clothing retailer that specializes in summer clothes, then every once in a while you’re going to get visitors who originally searched for “summer clothes” and ended up at your site. Chances are, they’re not looking for you specifically!
However, if you have a long-tail keyword strategy in place, you may be capturing searches by people looking for “summer clothes for teenagers in Albuquerque,” and these people are exactly the kind of potential customers you want to be pushing into your sales funnel!
3. Your Conversion Rates Will Be Higher
When someone searches for “summer clothes,” they’re probably just browsing around looking for different styles of summer clothes, or canvassing for a good price point to prepare for.
Once they’re typing in “summer clothes for teenagers in Albuquerque,” though, they’re already looking for local brands and narrowing down the search to a more specific demographic – indicating that they’re actively looking for ways to buy what they want.
Simply put, visitors who land on your site via long-tail hits are already going to be deeper into the customer journey already, ready for conversion.
4. They Already Have The Short-Tail Keywords You Need Anyway
At the end of the day, a long-tail keyword strategy will probably have the keywords you’d otherwise be using! “summer clothes for teenagers in Albuquerque” has all manner of short-tail keywords embedded within, from “summer clothes” to “clothes for teenagers,” and if you’re thinking about LSI keywords, you may even be part of “summer clothes in Albuquerque” as well.
5. They’re Great For Semantic Search
Semantic search has been looking at user intent for years now. Indeed, Google’s 2017 algorithm update explicitly declared that context and meaning are going to be more important than simple keyword matching.
Long-tail keywords are very well-suited to semantic search because a long-tail keyword gives search engines a lot more to work with, so to speak, in determining user intent.
However, the use of semantic search has lately been bolstered by the rise of two particular technologies.
An increasing volume of searches nowadays are being done over voice, as with Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. These voice searches tend to be done in question format, which often includes long-tail keywords in the structure.
On a similar note, more and more people are talking to chatbots to help them get what they need. These people, too, are searching in question format.
By adopting a long-tail keyword strategy, you’ll be able to leverage the abilities of semantic search and these new technologies in a meaningful way. You may also want to phrase your long-tail keywords as questions to follow this trend.
6. Long-Tail Keywords Look More Natural In Content
Content marketers will know the pain of having to pepper their work with keywords and try to make things look natural, but even the least-savvy visitors will be able to spot them a mile away.
Because long-tail keywords are competitive within a smaller niche, you’ll need to use far fewer of them in your content, making it more attractive to read for consumers.
Note: Keyword density is a fairly dinosaur-esque strategy. Simply crafting your content around the long-tail target naturally, and including it in your title/headline will generally be more than enough.
Targeting Intent Versus Traffic Volume
All this talk about how long-tail keywords are better for various targeting and competitive reasons – really just points to the reality that targeting intent is the new way to go for any keyword marketing strategy, comparing favorably to the old ways of just looking at whatever has the best search volume.
Let’s face the facts:
Long-tail keywords really won’t have a lot of search volume behind them, exactly because of how targeted they are!
However, just like it’s often better to have a few close friends than a whole lot of assorted acquaintances, a bunch of low-volume long-tail keywords that address specifically what your niche’s audience is looking for, will be better than high-volume short-tail keywords that serve your niche, along with a whole lot of other niches and markets that you’re not even a part of!
Targeting intent over volume means that you’re actually trying to connect with your potential customers’ needs, rather than just shouting keywords into the wind hoping that someone will decide to randomly choose you, however deep you are into the SERPs.
And you’ve probably already heard the old joke: What’s the best place to hide a dead body?
Why, page 2 of Google search results, of course.
Building A Long-Tail Keyword Strategy
Once you’ve decided to adopt a long-tail keyword strategy, you’ll have to get the old ways of search volume-first thinking out of your head and start focusing on user intent.
The steps to adopting such a strategy are a little different from simple keyword research. Here’s a few of them to help you get started.
Analyze The Needs Of Your Audience
With long-tail keyword research, it’s more important than ever to really understand how your average customer thinks – and how you fulfill their needs.
Figure out not only why your customer should buy your product, but the journey they take to reaching your product in the first place. There will be several potential customer journeys that end at your products and services, and you’ll need to take the intent behind each one into account when choosing your long-tail keywords. It’s using a little psychology in your SEO to get ahead.
For example, if we dredge up once more the well-worn example of an Albuquerque-based clothing retailer, there’s a whole host of ways they might arrive at your store. Some of them will want to see the alternatives to the clothing competition in Albuquerque. Others might be tourists in town for the summer and want to buy appropriate clothes from local retailers – we hear the Route 66 Summerfest and the Wine Festival are great times to visit, after all.
Think about these questions, research your audience, and deliver these answers in the form of intent-driven long-tail keywords.
Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
Ah, the USP! One of the most basic concepts in traditional marketing remains even more relevant when thinking about long-tail strategies:
How do you set yourself apart from the competition?
The answer to this question is one of the ways you can determine the long-tail keywords to use.
In the “summer clothes for teenagers in Albuquerque” example, you might be the only retailer in the city who specifically sells teenager-designed summer clothing! Or perhaps your clothes are artisanal, or handcrafted, or even single-origin (is that a thing in clothing?).
Terms like these are readily available for inclusion in a long-tail keyword solution, and if your users are searching for them, you’ll be ready to catch their attention.
Start With Suggested Terms In Keyword Research Tools
With your user intent in mind, it’s now time to hunt for some keywords.
Starting off isn’t particularly different from the way you’d normally look up keywords. Fire up your favorite keyword research tool and look up the usual short-tail keywords that apply to your niche.
From there, look at the various alternatives and matches that your tool provides, focusing on keywords that are four words long and above – these are potential long-tail keywords you can be using.
Search for keyword clues that don’t have a lot of search volume but are important to your niche. Use ones that have some traffic and little competition, so that you can capture that niche and drive them to your site. The most common keyword clues you can add are; location (i.e. the city you’re in), type of product (i.e. what exactly you’re selling), and so on.
Even if there aren’t a lot of people searching for them, remember: Users searching for long-tail keywords are further down the customer journey already, and are more likely to convert! You should take advantage of this fact as much as you can.
Automate Your Long-Tail Keyword Search
Of course, it’s a long and arduous process to think up these keywords, and using most simple synonym-based methods are going to produce unnatural-looking results that simply won’t catch the audience you want.
Rather than settle for a tedious manual solution or an inefficient and ineffective automated solution for long-tail keyword research, you can try AI- and data-driven methods provided by growth platforms like Zag.
The Compounding Interests app, in particular, may be…of interest to you, as it uses artificial intelligence to look up locations, ideas, people, and companies that are relevant to your business and content. Through Compounding Interests, not only are you provided with optimal long-tail keyword ideas, but you might even expand your reach to audiences that you and your competition might not otherwise have noticed!
Starting off on a long-tail journey is the start of an overall marketing strategy that is more tailored to your customers’ needs.
Sure, your reach might be smaller at first, but you’re also potentially getting more engagement out of each lead you create, and they’re far more likely to convert because you’re closer to what they need.
On top of that, a long-tail keyword strategy is potentially more cost-effective, as you get more out of your clicks and a better conversion rate, which leads to a greater return on your investment.
Of course, it needs more research. More time and effort spent on getting to know your audience, a more focused approach to solving the problems they have.
But hey – isn’t that actually a good thing?