August 3, 2022

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

By: Mary Hiers

Long-tail keywords are less popular, more specific keyword phrases. You may wonder, “Why should I care since I sell insurance (or I’m a chiropractor, or I’m a roofer)?”

It matters because long-tail keywords can get the right people to come to your website. And by “right people” we mean people who are getting closer to making their purchase decision.

Less Popular, More Effective

Long-tail keywords are less popular than what we think of as “typical” keywords. But why would you want to bother using less popular keyword phrases?

It has to do with the searcher’s intent. The more specific a searcher is, the more likely they intend to make a purchase. 

For example, search on “athletic shoes” and you know you will get a massive amount of information. And sometimes that’s enough.

But if you search on “men’s black Adidas athletic shoes size 11 basketball,” you are probably closer to making a purchase. In fact, you might be ready to purchase them right then. Here are some more examples.

Popular KeywordLong-Tail Keyword
coffeecafé au lait
fabricsilk chiffon
dogfemale labrador retriever
ringmen’s signet ring

Long-Tail Keywords Are Valuable

Trying to rank for long-tail keywords is a smart strategic move. Seventy percent of page views are the result of long-tail keywords. 

Additionally, your website is more likely to rank highly for long-tail keywords than for typical keywords. And the page views you get from them are more likely to be from people who are closer to making a purchase. 

What They Are and Are Not 

The term “long-tail” implies that a keyword is longer than the typical keyword. In most cases, that’s true.

“Car” is a major keyword, with millions of searches per month. “Silver 1990 Toyota Camry 5-speed” is a long-tail keyword.

However, longer keywords are not necessarily long-tail keywords. Likewise, a short, rarely used word is not necessarily a competitive keyword. 

For example, the word “sendal” is only six letters long, but it is a long-tail keyword that only gets about 330 searches per month. (It’s a type of silk, FYI.)

By contrast, the phrase “restaurants near me” is fairly long, yet it is not considered a long-tail keyword at all. It gets over 25 million searches per month. 

Bottom line: long-tail keywords have to do with how often they are used in searches. They do not necessarily have to do with how many words or letters make them up.

Benefits of Using Long-Tail Keywords

It is easier to rank highly for long-tail keywords. This means your site is more likely to show up in search results presented to people who are closer to making their purchase decision.

This is especially good for newer websites. The longevity of a site positively affects ranking, and if you don’t have longevity, it’s hard to rank for popular keywords. 

Long-tail keywords also benefit digital advertisers because they cost less per click than super popular keywords. So if you do digital advertising, consider long-tail keywords for your ads as well as your website.

Think of it as building a structure. You can build with big blocks or small blocks. Say 10 small blocks equal one big block. 

You can buy 10 small blocks for $1, or one big block for $2. It makes sense to buy the small blocks and put in some sweat equity if your budget is tight, right?

How to Identify Long-Tail Keywords

Sometimes you can come up with long-tail keywords from the products you sell. Say you sell pizza. 

Describing it more fully can yield a great long-tail keyword: “deep dish Chicago style pizza with organic tomato sauce” for example.

Here are some other tips for identifying long-tail keywords.

Use Your Regular Keyword Tool

You can use the Google Keyword Planner, ahrefs, SEMrush, or some other keyword tool. Find long-tail keywords by browsing down a list of keywords to the ones that get a few thousand searches a month. 

Some keyword tools have built-in long-tail keyword finders that make it even more convenient. 

Use Google Autocomplete

Start typing a popular keyword into the search bar and see what autocomplete comes up with. Bear in mind that many of the phrases it comes up with are also extremely popular. 

You’ll need to check any potential long-tail keywords for search volume to make sure they really are long-tail.

Use the People Also Ask (PAA) Feature

Google’s People Also Ask feature doesn’t always come up. You have a better chance of getting it to pop up in search results if your search is in the form of a question.

The questions themselves can give you plenty of ideas for keywords. And the more questions you click on in the feature, the more questions it generates. 

If you see the Google “Related Searches” box on the search results, this too can be a good source of long-tail keywords.

Use Social Media and Forums

One terrific way to find out what actual people look for is to look on social media and discussion sites, like reddit. In the search bar, just type in your keyword, followed by “” (or “,” etc.).

If you see a term repeatedly in a relevant discussion thread, write it down and check its search volume. It may be a great long-tail keyword.

Know Competitors’ Ranking Keywords

There are many domain tools that will let you plug in a URL and find out which keywords that URL ranks for. They’re great for keeping an eye on the competition.

If your top competitor ranks for “umbrella personal liability insurance policy” and you can’t get any traction trying to rank for “liability insurance,” you may need to shift your focus to the long-tail keyword. 

Rank Is Inclusive of Longer-Tail Keywords

If you rank for a keyword, you also rank for long-tail versions of that keyword. This is fantastic news because it means less work for you.

In other words, if you rank for “healthy cat food,” you’ll also rank for “healthy things to feed my cat” and similar longer-tail keywords. When optimizing your website content, you won’t have to write multiple pages for each long-tail keyword.

How to Use Them in Your Content

It’s hard to make some long-tail keywords flow with your content. For example, consider the “men’s black Adidas athletic shoes size 11 basketball” phrase referenced above. 

How do you put that into a sentence without it sounding wrong? You can’t. 

In these cases, you have to fine-tune your long-tail keywords. You could, for instance, say “We’re having a sale on men’s black Adidas basketball shoes, sizes 8-13.” 

In other words, don’t shoehorn an awkward long-tail keyword into your content. Finesse it until it can be used in a way that makes sense. Google is smart enough to figure it out.

More Eyeballs on Your Website

Search engine optimization is about getting your website in front of more people. If you’re trying to compete with Budweiser for the keyword “beer,” good luck.

But if you identify long-tail keywords that describe your product (“dark Czech pilsner,” “American brown ale”) you can build your rank steadily and appeal to people with a specific interest in your product.

Keyword strategy can sometimes feel like playing 3-D chess. Search engine algorithms evolve, and new buzzwords appear all the time. 

If you want to focus on your business and how it solves people’s problems while someone else worries about keyword strategies, maybe you should schedule a call with us

Every Best Website has SEO-enriched content built into it, with all the right keywords. And we do it at a fraction of the cost that website designers charge. Let us help you spread the word about your business!


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