For those who have been in SEO for any length of time, no doubt you have heard about the different types of keywords, such as head terms, long tail keywords, and other types of keywords.
But, how effective are long tail keywords? Are they really worth investing time into or should you focus your energy elsewhere?
The higher conversion rates means that you have a possibility of turning a customer into an actual sale. Having a healthy mix of broad match and more long tail keywords in your keyword targeting strategy is always a great idea so you can future-proof your SEO strategy.
These types of keywords also have less search volume, so they might not be entirely up there on the search volume list.
There are two main types of long tail keywords: exact match (EM) and non-exact match (NEM). The former matches only the keyword exactly, whereas the latter covers variations of the keyword.
NEM keywords usually perform better in terms of click through rate (CTR), although EM keywords tend to attract more traffic. The two are not mutually exclusive: you can have a higher CTR even though you may have less traffic.
This is why it pays to make sure that your research includes viable long tail keywords in your SEO mix.
Long Tail Keywords: What Are They and How Can You Use Them Effectively?
Long tail keywords are those phrases that don’t contain exact matches to your keyword or phrase. They are usually longer and less common. The goal is to rank highly for these terms because they are much harder to rank for.
Long tail keywords are often overlooked by marketers who focus too much on short term goals. These long tail keywords are also known as low competition keywords.
There are two types of long tail keywords: broad match and phrase match. Broad match keywords are words that appear in the title, description, and video tags. Phrase match keywords are combinations of multiple words that are related to each other.
Phrase match keywords can be more effective than broad match keywords because they have a higher chance of being searched together. For example, if you sell dog food, then it’s likely that someone will search for “dog food” and “best dog foods.” If you use a phrase match keyword like this, then you’ll get traffic from both searches.
If you’re looking to increase your organic traffic, you should always try to optimize your site for long tail keywords. They are a nice supplement to broader short tail keywords, but not a replacement.
Why are Long Tail Keywords Important for SEO?
Long tail keywords are important to SEO because they target buyers who are much closer to actually buying your product or service from your website. By ensuring that you target these particular keywords in your search strategy, you add a target to your site that helps you find specific types of customers from search traffic.
They are important to SEO because they can help you attain more specific buyer traffic. They also help you round out your SEO strategy by not only focusing on head terms.
Although head terms are important because of their search volume alone, in the beginning you might not rank for these terms. That’s because the competition for these keywords is very high, and you may not end up actually ranking for them anyway, in the very beginning.
That’s why having a healthy keyword mix is important: if you don’t rank for the higher volume head terms in the beginning, you can get rankings quickly for the long tail.
How To Think About Long Tail Keywords in Your SEO Strategy
Standard high volume keywords for any niche are going to be tough to rank for. But, long tail keywords are a little bit easier to rank for.
You want to make sure that you aren’t over optimizing for one type of keyword. It may seem tempting to put all your efforts into getting ranked for a specific keyword, but you need to diversify your efforts across several types of keywords.
This way, even if you miss out on ranking for one particular keyword, you still have a good chance at ranking for another.
The Search Query
As mentioned previously, the reason why long tail keywords are what they are, is at the heart of the search query itself. When you choose the higher volume search phrases, you’re going after people who are most likely to be researching their purchase—the more informative queries.
The deeper, or long tail searches, means that people are refining their search to really dig into what they want to buy.
So, naturally, these searches will just have lower search volume, and thus fewer people searching for them as a result.
But, they are more highly qualified, compared to the searches you would get from the higher volume search terms mentioned earlier.
That means that you have a greater chance of converting them when you create landing page content catered to these search queries.
When you look at monthly searches in more detail, you will see exactly how this aligns with people who may be searching for your product or service.
A keyword phrase with one or two words in it, that gets over 100,000 searches/mo in search volume, could be a great contender for a head term.
A head term is a keyword at the top of the funnel, where people will be most likely to start their search process, to figure out exactly where they may need to dive deeper.
As a reminder, when a searcher does this, they don’t know about the product or service. They would be searching for the broader, more all-encompassing keyword because 1. perhaps they heard about it in passing, 2. they heard about it in a commercial on TV and they want to find out more about that specific product.
Then, when they search for the product or service, they will only be entering in the general, broader, higher search volume term for that item. Then, as they get deeper in their search, they will be able to refine it.
Putting It All Together
Now that we know where search volumes for the long tail keyword phrases come from, we can begin constructing our landing pages.
When constructing your landing pages, make sure to target keywords and topics that your buyer is most likely to enter when they are at the bottom of the funnel, and they are ready to purchase.
Keyword Difficulty and How It Relates to Long Tail Keywords
Keyword difficulty is a measurement of how difficult (or competitive) it is to rank for a particular keyword phrase on the Google search results.
This difficulty factor is a combination of different numbers, which takes into consideration things like page authority, domain authority, and content quality.
Keyword difficulty, as it relates to the long tail keywords you would normally be working with, is a very important part of the research process.
The problem is that you cannot get the same measurement of keyword difficulty when it comes to using different tools.
Each tool will have a different number for this metric.
In fact, when you try and do this measurement of keyword difficulty, you may find that these keyword research tools could be all over the place.
Even the most well-known SEO tools all measure keyword difficulty with a different number.
How Do Long Tail Keywords Work?
As you figure out which long tail keywords to target, you will stumble on some great ones, and then some not-so-great ones.
You may want to plug these terms into Google just to verify that you are actually going after some decent long tail keywords.
Keep in mind that long tail keywords should also have some lower competition attributes, including search results that don’t have all that much in the way of higher competition, heavily branded sites.
More popular keywords, on the other hand, will have highly saturated results with very big brands dominating every single SERP (search engine results page) in that niche.
So, it makes sense to make sure that what you are researching really is going to be a viable long tail keyword phrase.
Research: How to Unearth Qualified Long Tail Keywords for Your Site
Using keyword research tools, as mentioned in our article on the topic, can really help you nail down specific target long tail keywords you will want to go after as part of your SEO strategy.
As mentioned above, you want to find out what your target search results contain so you can determine whether your long tail keyword is a viable target.
For example, you could look for easier-to-target results (mentioned above). Let’s take a look into this a little bit deeper.
When it comes to a competitive keyword, not all search results are created equal. For example, you can’t say that one search result will always yield certain competitive sites.
This is why individual search analysis is necessary.
For example: if you search for “what does an SEO do?” The following five sites show up (at the time of this writing):
For “what is SEO and why is it important?” The following sites show up in the top five (at the time of this writing):
Clearly, Google considers the sites as representative examples of their specific niche, and thus ranks them accordingly in the top five for these queries.
But also, it’s worth noting that for less competitive keyword phrases, such as “seo for google sites,” for example:
are the sites that show up in the results.
When you have relative no-name brands (aside from Google) in the SEO space also showing up in the search results alongside Google, this is also a sign that you’re dealing with a less competitive SERP, and could be something that you could potentially rank for.
Using a combination of your favorite keyword tool and comprehensive SERP analysis can help you identify exactly which long tail keywords you should be targeting and why.
Just be wary that not every keyword tool is created equal, in terms of how they report on these types of numbers.
The Different Types of Keywords
It’s worth noting as well that there are several different types of keywords in this vein. Let’s examine the different types and how they fit into the overall long tail keyword paradigm:
Generic Term: This is any keyword that’s considered more of a “blanket” keyword when referring to your brand, product, or service. For example, in the case of real estate, “homes” would be more of a generic keyword. In the case of technology, “computer” would be more of a generic keyword.
Head Keywords: These are the short-tail keyword phrases that are at the top of your buying funnel. These keywords are those that people use whenever they start their research on any type of product or service. They usually have significant search volume, but also have significant competition, so it’s a lot harder to rank for them.
Seed Keywords: While this might seem the same as head terms, these are not necessarily the same. Seed keywords are the keywords you use when you start keyword research, to get a broader sense of your overall market. Then, you dive deeper into your keyword research from your seed keywords.
Long tail Terms: As mentioned previously, these have lower search volume, are easier to rank for, and have a higher likelihood of conversions. When customers are using these keywords, they are much further along in the buying process and much more likely to buy from you as a result.
Relevant Keywords: These types of keywords include any keyword that is relevant within your article. For example “keyword tool” would be a relevant keyword for this particular article.
Competitive Keywords: When a keyword is highly competitive, they are considered challenging to get rankings for. These are the keywords that a site will end up eventually ranking for, when they have achieved enough authority and quality that Google will reward the site accordingly.
Money Keywords: Anytime someone refers to a “money keyword” when it comes to their website, they are talking about keywords that drive the most traffic, rankings, and money-making probability. These are worth noting because they are highly important to the person talking about them, and they should be included in your overall strategy.
Precise Keywords: These types of keywords are significantly more specific and, well “precise” when speaking in terms of what you may want to target. For example: “Mac Pro Computer with a 28 Core CPU and 96GB of RAM” would be considered a precise keyword. These keywords may not have any competition depending on your niche, because people are not always thinking about targeting them. This could be a less competitive, more long tail way to get initial rankings.
Question Keywords: Like the name implies, these are keywords that appear in Google’s “People also ask” area in the search results. All of these queries are those that come in the form of a question. Such as “Why is SEO important?” These could also be considered long tail, but with one important difference: they are phrased in the form of a question. However, many of these keywords also have the same common attributes as long tail keywords.
Doing The Right Long Tail Keyword Research Can Pay Off Big In the Long Run
As you proceed with your keyword research and discover the most important keywords that are suitable for your marketing mix, you could learn that you have found significant diamonds in the rough. You could also find certain opportunities that were not there previously.
This is why doing deeper keyword research is so important: you can find great opportunities to really develop your SEO strategy, far beyond what was possible previously.
With the right mix of long tail keywords, money keywords, short-tail keywords, and other types of traffic-driving keywords, you too can be a great resource for anyone who is looking for your particular product or service.
How do you plan on integrating long tail keywords into your SEO strategy?