Understanding the Value of Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords should be part of your keyword strategy

Most marketers know how important keywords are to their digital content. Using the right words and phrases helps major search engines find, catalog and deliver your web pages to users. But the key to good search engine optimization (SEO) goes beyond scattering a few relevant keywords throughout your website. You must use a combination of keyword types—including long-tail keywords—to reach the most relevant audiences.

Long-tail keywords are a misunderstood and overlooked segment of many business’s SEO efforts—often to their detriment. Skillfully incorporating long-tail keywords into your content can drive traffic and maximize conversions for your company.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific keywords or key phrases that are relevant to your content. They function in the same way as head keywords (shorter, broader ideas), but they include more specific information related to your company or products.

Most long-tail keywords include three or more words. However, the number of words in the phrase is less important than its specificity.

As an example, imagine that you operate a shoe store. Instead of using the head keyword shoes, your long-tail keyword might be best men’s running shoes, or even better, best men’s running shoes for long distance. These keywords narrowly define what you’re talking about and closely match what the user is searching for.

Because they serve a niche market, long-tail keywords have lower search volume than their head keyword counterparts. Because of this, many marketers mistakenly believe long-tail keywords aren’t a valuable component of their SEO strategies. However, these longer, specific keywords hold immense power when used correctly. Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all search traffic. People are searching for them!

Benefits of long-tail keywords

Lower search demand should not scare marketers away from using long-tail keywords in their content strategies. There are actually many benefits to harnessing the unique power long-tail keywords offer.

  • Easier to rank - High search volume for head keywords often results in tremendous competition from major market players. Unfortunately, this means that your web pages are unlikely to rank high in a search engine’s organic results. The more specific you get, the less competition you have and the easier it is to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs). This means greater visibility for your company and a higher chance of conversion.
  • Higher conversion rates - Think about how you search for a product when you’re exploring your options versus when you know what you want to buy. You may start by exploring shoes initially but search red women’s ballet flats in Denver when you’re ready to find a store and buy. Users searching for long-tail keywords are often much closer to taking action than those who use head keywords. Thus, long-tail keywords generally have much higher conversion rates. Focusing on specific terms that match what your customer wants can drive your sales or sign-ups through the roof.
  • Cheaper ads - If you plan to leverage your keyword research and SEO efforts through a pay-per-click advertising platform like Google Ads, long-tail keywords can also help you save money. Fierce keyword competition can rack up significant costs. If you’re targeting long-tail keywords with lower search volume and less competition, there’s a better chance at landing the top paid spots and converting without blowing your budget.
  • Inform future content - Conducting long-tail keyword research helps you identify other terms you might rank well for. It can also help you get new ideas for future content that fits within your overall content strategy. With hundreds of potential long-tail keywords available for a single broad topic, you can create a robust content calendar that leverages those long-tail keywords to boost your rankings.
  • Provide immense value - Search engine users are increasingly using specific language and even voice-to-text to search. This means they’re more likely to search for specific phrases to weed out irrelevant results. When they search for a specific idea that your content covers, your long-tail keywords will ensure you show up front and center on their SERPs. The content you’ve built around those keywords will provide greater value, since it was exactly what they were looking for.

How to identify the best long-tail keywords

It’s not difficult to determine the right long-tail keywords for your business. All the broad head keywords you already use form the foundation for many more long-tail keywords. Starting from the top is one of the best ways to create a foundational list of long-tail keywords to use in your content strategy.

Consider the head keywords you would want to rank for in a perfect world. Next, think about your business and the special aspects that draw customers in. What’s unique about your products or services? Who needs what you offer? These specifications can help inform some long-tail keywords.

Next, use a keyword search tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to discover variations of long-tail keywords, their search volume and their competition. You want to target high-volume, low-competition keywords for the best results.

Finally, like with all SEO, you want to make sure that the long-tail keywords you choose are accurate and relevant to your brand. Using irrelevant long-tail keywords will not only narrow your audience, it will result in fewer conversions if your content is not what users are looking for.

Long-tail keywords are an essential part of a long-term SEO strategy that drives website traffic and conversions. By targeting the right list of specific keywords, you can capture eager audiences and deliver value with every page.

About the Author

My name is Cale Loken and I'm a digital marketing consultant located in Minneapolis. My agency, 301 Madison Consulting, works with businesses to bring them more new customers from their online digital presence. I enjoy writing articles from time to time, so I appreciate you checking out our blog.

Cale Loken

Marketing Consultant

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