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In SEO, there are two types of keywords: “head” keywords and “long-tail” keywords.
Over 70% of search queries are made up of long-tail keywords while the other 30% consist of head keywords, as shown in the below graph:
If you are ignoring long-tail keywords then you are ignoring 70% of the search traffic.
Head keywords are harder to rank for. It takes a lot of time and effort to outrank your competition because mostly bigger brands are competing with your site for short-tail or head keywords.
On the other hand, long-tail keywords are easier to rank for because they consist of specific topics that less people write about. There is less competition, no fear of bigger brands outranking you, and you can easily bring in more traffic to your site.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords are 3-5-word phrases with low search volume that are used to capture relevant traffic to a website. They target niche audiences instead of mass audiences.
Some examples of long-tail keywords are:
- White Adidas shoes with green stripes
- Where can I find my windows product key?
- Best hill stations to visit in April
- How to wear a denim jacket in summer?
- Red dress with white polka dots
The basic aim of long-tail keywords is to match the exact intent of the searcher and provide the right information to them as fast as possible.
When people use long-tail keywords in their search queries, they are being very specific regarding their needs. So featuring your website at the top of the search results for such specific keywords offers more opportunities for conversions.
Long-Tail vs. Short-Tail Keywords
Long-tail is a clear winner when you compare short-tail with long-tail keywords because they have:
- Low competition
- High focus
- Low cost
- High conversion rate
Interestingly, Amazon generates 57% of it sales from long-tail keywords:
If you follow Amazon's example and target long-tail keywords, that will help you optimize your website for the most motivated customers, resulting in maximum conversions.
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Top 9 Reasons Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Super Useful for SEO
Here are the top reasons why you must definitely use long-tail keywords in your SEO campaign:
1) Long-Tail Keywords Are Easier to Rank For
One of the biggest advantages that long-tail keywords offer is that they are easier to rank for. The reason why they are easier to rank for is because the competition is less.
There are fewer pages competing for long-tail keywords and as such your webpage will easily rank on top if it has user-intent-focused unique content and the page is able to acquire a few quality links.
Here is an example of a real estate website, Big Block Realty that uses “city directories” in the footer section of their site to link to internal pages targeting long-tail keywords:
For example, this page targets the keyword “Huntington Beach real estate broker”. The page has relevant content along with videos that Google would love to rank for real estate queries related to Huntington Beach. This is just an idea of how you can intelligently link to pages promoting long-tail keywords within your website.
Have a look at the below screenshot that displays the top ranking pages for the keyword “turmeric for weight loss” that has a search volume of 2,500:
When you look at the number of links, you will easily discover that it is much easier to rank your site for this keyword. Leaving one domain, you can defeat the other ones simply by acquiring links from 11 referring domains, provided that the other ranking factors stay in your favor (like content).
2) They Are Intent-Rich and Aid in Conversions
It’s no wonder that long-tail keywords convert 2.5X higher than head keywords: Long-tail keywords are always focused on a single user intent.
A person searching on Google with a broad keyword like “buy dresses” isn’t clear regarding his/her needs. Hence, the chances of getting conversion from such keywords is less likely.
On the contrary, a person searching with a query like “buy mens t-shirt under $100” is extremely specific regarding his/her needs and the conversion chances for such keywords is always high. That's why the average conversion rate for a long-tail keyword is around 36%:
3) Long-Tail Keywords Actually Help Your Site Rank for Shorter Keywords
Not many SEOers think of this, but yes, it’s actually true that long-tail keywords help head keywords rank faster. How is this possible?
Long-tail keywords help you acquire more traffic by allowing your site to rank for a higher number of niche-specific keywords.
When traffic to the website increases, people link back to your site more often and Google considers your site to be a niche authority. This way your site is able to rank for the more competitive short-tail keywords.
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4) They Are Best for Highly Competitive Niches
If you are competing in highly popular industries like travel, shopping or food, then you are competing with some of the top brands of this world like Expedia, Amazon, the Food Network, etc.
In that case, your site won’t be able to rank for head keywords at first because you need to build up your site authority by adding pages to your site and by acquiring high-authority links. This is a long process and will take months and months of effort.
So how will you able to show your SEO success to your client? With long-tail keywords. You can choose a set of long-tail keywords related to your niche and promote your site accordingly:
Soon you will be able to start ranking for less competitive long-tail keywords and traffic will start flowing to your site. This will make both you and your client happy!
5) Your Blog Content Is Powered by Long-Tail Keywords
Everyone in the industry is aware of the success of content marketing – and SEO and content go hand in hand.
The biggest power behind the absolute success of content marketing is your blog. When you think of blogs, you should think about long-tail keywords.
Blogging 20 times or more each month helps bring in more traffic. Have a look at the below chart that displays the impact of blog posts on inbound traffic. If your blog post count increases to 401+ then your traffic is almost doubled:
Niche blogs do well and bring in high-value traffic that is able to convert faster. Long-tail keywords are the best to target on your blog. Simply research some of the best long-tail keywords in your industry and prepare high-quality blog posts on it.
Just by following this strategy of publishing blog posts that focus on long-tail keywords, your website will acquire tons of relevant traffic.
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6) Long-Tail Keywords Help You Rank for Voice Search
The future of SEO is voice search. By 2020, around 30% of all searches will be conducted without a screen:
Long-tail keywords are your best bet for optimizing your site for voice search. The reason? Voice commands comprise of 4-5 words or more – which is a long-tail keyword.
When someone searches with the help of Google Assistant, Siri or Amazon Echo, they use commands like “Which is the highest mountain in this world?”, “Which are the best shoe stores near me?”, “How do you prepare a chocolate cake?”, “How do I set up a tripod?” and so on.
Such queries are naturally long-tail and if you start optimizing your website for these kinds of searches, then in the future your website will start to rank on top for voice searches.
7) They Help Get Your Website into Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are also known as “answer boxes”. When you optimize your website for long-tail keywords, the chances of your website getting ranked in the featured snippet also increases.
Have a look at the below screenshot that displays how Shopify is able to acquire a placement under featured snippets for the long-tail keyword “What is SEO and how it works”:
You can prepare a list of long-tail keywords based on question searches, because those have a better chance of returning a featured snippet. Optimize your website by improving content relevancy and get it ranked under featured snippets.
A study by Ahrefs revealed that 8.6% of clicks goes to the featured snippet, meaning that you would be able to easily acquire about 8% extra search traffic for every long-tail keyword if you are able to make it to the featured snippet:
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8) Long-Tail Keywords Increase Your Chances of Getting Links
When your website starts acquiring more traffic, then the chances of acquiring links also increases.
Let’s consider a scenario: you create 100 blog posts that focus on long-tail keywords and they start to rank in the top 10. Slowly and gradually you start acquiring more traffic to your site.
Your pages that rank in the top 10, especially under the top three positions, are able to acquire more links naturally because people are constantly searching for them, clicking on them and linking back to them.
9) Long-Tail Keywords Have a Good Search Volume
In a study of 1.9 billion keywords conducted by Ahrefs, it was found that around 29.13% of keywords with 10,001+ monthly searches consists of three or more words – which means that long-tail keywords aren’t low on search volume as most of the SEOers think:
You can easily prepare a list of decent volume long-tail keywords to power up your SEO strategy and increase conversions.
How to Find Long-Tail Keywords
Here are some great ways to find the best long-tail keywords for your SEO campaign:
1) Use Google's Autocomplete and Related Searches Feature
You can use the Google’s autocomplete or the related searches feature to find long-tail keywords of your choice. This is perhaps my favorite strategy for finding relevant long-tail searches.
Simply type in your main money keyword and look at the searches suggested by Google:
Similarly, you can see a list of related searches presented by Google at the bottom of the search page as shown in the below screenshot:
In the image above, Google suggests a few important long-tail keywords related to “how to keep bees” like “starting a beehive with packaged bees” or “raising bees for beginners”. These are excellent search terms if you are looking to promote your business related to bee keeping.
Whatever the niche, Google autocomplete and related searches always provide the best option to find high-quality and relevant keywords related to your business.
2) Get Help from Quora
Quora is a powerhouse of information. The biggest advantage with Quora is that the content is written by users themselves and therefore the relevancy and uniqueness of content remains unmatched.
Simply enter your main keyword on Quora and search for the questions that people have asked. You will be amazed to find so many relevant long-tail question-based keywords related to your niche.
Also, Quora suggests the top questions asked by people related to your business by looking at your search history. You are never short of keyword ideas because you can simply login to Quora and see a list of questions waiting for you. Just pick some of those and start preparing your next article around it. Easy, isn’t it?
For example, when I search on Quora with keywords related to marketing, I get keyword suggestions like:
- “Is Twitter a strong online marketing platform for small business?”
- “How do ‘push’ and ‘pull’ strategies work for getting additional web traffic?”
These are great topics for my next blog post focused on a long-tail keyword.
3) Use Ubersuggest or Answer the Public
Both Ubersuggest and Answer the Public are awesome keyword research tools that let you find relevant long-tail keywords in seconds.
The best part is that both these tools are free to use. Answer the Public displays all the possible question-based keywords that your potential customers might ask when searching on Google, while Ubersuggest displays all the long-tail keywords whether they are question based or not.
Simply visit Ubersuggest, enter your main money keyword in the search bar and hit search:
Then click on “Keyword Ideas” on the left side to see lots of relevant long-tail keyword ideas and also tell you whether they are easy to rank for or not:
Similarly, visit Answer the Public and enter your keyword in the search bar. For example, for a keyword like “link building”, it displays about 63 long-tail question based keywords:
4) Use the Ahrefs Site Explorer
Ahrefs Site Explorer is another great tool to find fruitful long-tail keywords.
Log in to Ahrefs and enter the domain of your closest competitor in the search bar. Move to the “organic keywords report” located in the left side bar. Apply a filter for displaying keywords with low search volumes.
This is a simple and a great way to find long-tail keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t.
5) Analyze Your Own Site Analytics
Use Google Analytics to find the keywords that your website is already ranking for.
Log in to GA and move to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Traffic. Click on “Organic” and you will be able to see a list of long-tail keywords on which your website is already ranking:
These are some great keywords to optimize for to ensure that your site stays at the top position.
Bonus tip: If you are using Google Ads, then you can use the Search Query report to find all those long-tail keywords that are driving people to click on your ads. These are highly relevant keywords to optimize for.
4 Case Studies that Prove the Effectiveness of Long-Tail Keywords for Your SEO Strategy
Here are four case studies that prove why long-tail keywords are so important for your SEO strategy:
In an interesting case study published in Unano, it was revealed that resume writing software Zety was able to generate around 6,500 sessions in one month by publishing a blog post, all due to the power of long-tail keywords.
The team at Zety researched a blog post to be prepared on the topic “hobbies in resume” that had roughly 1,900 searches per month:
The topic was finalized and the post was published: “20+ Best Examples of Hobbies & Interests to Put on a Resume (List)”.
The article was able to divert around 6,500 sessions in a single month which was way above the 600-700 hits that the post would have received if it ranked at the top of the search results for the keyword “hobbies in resume”:
The fact that the article received so many hits was due to the power of long-tail keywords. The article started ranking on hundreds of different long-tail keywords that generated lots of traffic.
This is the real essence of working with long-tail keywords. You can generate TONS of organic search traffic each month if you regularly publish blog posts that have the potential to divert traffic via long-tail.
2) Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits
This case study is really worth reading. Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits was able to sell his website for a massive $425K without building any links to the site. All he did was to target long-tail keywords. He did spend a lot of time doing keyword research, and the image below displays a list of keywords that he identified and got his site to rank for them:
All the keywords are long-tail and have a decent search volume. The idea was to use content relevancy as a factor to rank on Google instead of link popularity. This strategy worked really well because he was able to target the right long-tail keywords.
In the words of Spencer Haws:
“Here's the Google Analytics screenshot of the business I just sold for $425k. All of this growth occurred with just really solid keyword research, great content, and almost no effort put into link building.”
3) Success at School
In an interesting case study published by Jamie of Brand New Copy, he stated that he was able to increase traffic to his client’s website successatschool.org from 7,029 to 77,698 (1,005%) in a matter of 9 months.
Here is a screenshot displaying the increase in traffic during the last 3 months of the project:
How did they increase the traffic? They:
- Conducted an SEO audit of the website using Screaming Frog SEO Spider
- Used SEMrush to identify long-tail keywords and “low-hanging” keywords
- Produced content focused on long-tail keywords having at least 3 internal links pointing to other posts
- Re-optimized the posts for creating better, relevant and longer content
The results were amazing and this case study makes us realize that long-tail keywords should definitely be a part of your SEO strategy along with the other important elements.
4) Search Logistics
A case study published by Search Logistics reveals how a furniture and homeware seller was able to increase e-commerce transactions by 336%, improve organic traffic by 122.27% and improve revenue by 369% primarily by ranking for as many long-tail keywords as possible.
The idea was to:
- Increase overall search visibility by improving the rankings of long-tail keywords that were already ranking on page 3 of Google
- Improve the rankings of head keywords by making the site rank for as many low-competition keywords as possible
- Wipe out thin content and ensure correct on-site optimization
By improving the quality of content and by acquiring high-authority links, the site was able to rank for several long-tail keywords and even broader search terms. The result was:
- organic traffic was up by 122%
- new users were up by 115%
- transactions improved by 336%
- conversion rate was increased by 96%
Long-tail keywords offer the best way to connect with your customers. They are easier to rank for, cost less and convert more. What else do you need from your SEO campaign? Start using long-tail keywords as suggested in this article and power up your SEO strategy!