Long-tail keywords play an important role in SEO and digital marketing. But what are they and how is the long tail keyword distinguished from the short tail? This post will cover everything you need to know about long tail keywords, from how to find them and why they are important, to some tips on how to optimize them.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
When I first heard about long-tail keywords, I assumed the term came from the number of words that make a query; However, this is not always the case. A long-tail keyword comes from the search volume and specificity of a keyword, not the length. Long-tail keywords are search queries that generally get less search traffic, but higher conversion value.
A long-tail keyword begins with a “head” or main keyword for the topic, which can be divided into millions of variants, creating the long-tail keyword. This is especially common for niche markets and products.
Finding Long-Tail Keywords
When it comes to long-tail keywords, the definition still seems very vague. You can sit back and think, “The more specific a product is, the harder it will be to find and the fewer people will search for it.”
Although fewer people search for these specific queries, it is users who get more results than a broad term. But how do you tell a short tail keyword from a long one? In the following example, I’ll walk you through a situation and how to find long-tail keywords in a topic.
Example of a Long-Tail vs. a Short-Tail Keyword
Imagine being invited to a last-minute meal. If you had more time to prepare, you would make your grandmother’s famous lasagna; however, your time is short and all you have is an electric skillet, cheese, and a few other ingredients. To find a recipe, there are many questions you can ask.
First, you will probably start with a broad term to see all the possible results and inspiration. The keyword “cheese” has over 195,000 searches per month, so you decide to give that keyword a try.
This keyword returns the definition, the image, and even a local search to find cheese near you. Since you already have cheese (and you know what it is), this keyword is not intended, although it does have a high search volume.
After deciding that cheese won’t bring you what you’re looking for right now, you decide to be more specific and look up “cheese paste.” This keyword has a volume of 10,000, which means it is a popular term. If other people are searching for this query, and because it is more specific, that keyword should work better for you than “cheese.”
Here, Google assumes that your search intent is to find recipes and not photos or the definition of cheese pasta. The addition of the word “dive” restricts your work and effort and provides only the results that best suit your needs. But when you visit the main cheese sauce result, you run into a problem: the cheese sauce recipe you complete requires the use of a stove, not an electric skillet.
You already have your mindset on a crockpot method. And even if you have found a recipe, it does not mean that your search has been satisfied. To further narrow down, you decide to add a few keywords that can distinguish your results from the rest. You choose to include “crockpot” and “best” to ensure that only results with those two keywords are included.
From this example, here are your keywords sorted by search volume (SV) from short tail to long-tail:
- Short tail keyword: cheese (SV: 195K)
- Long-tail keyword: cheese sauce (SV: 10K)
- Longest Tail Keyword: Best Cheese Dip for Crockpot. (SV: 40)
Why Do Long-Tail Keywords Matter?
Let’s go back to the search volume for each query. At first it seems like you should discard keywords that don’t get a lot of traffic, but when you add them all together, they can generate as much volume as the initial main term.
According to one study, long-tail terms comprise 70% of all search queries; and they have a conversion rate of 36%, while only 11.5% of users convert to the top 10% of landing pages. By searching for these super-specific, low-volume keywords, you’re making a niche presence and leveraging the majority of the keywords that make up all of your queries.
While “cheese” may seem like the best query due to its high search volume, there is another factor to consider when searching for keywords: keyword difficulty. To determine the keyword difficulty of a search term, there are many tools that work slightly differently.
Our favorite tool, Ahrefs, takes into account a page’s content, search engine intent, links from other sites, and domain authority to calculate the chances of ranking a page for a specific keyword. The less difficult the keyword, the lower the competition.
Adding words like ingredients, cooking method, and even words like “best” or “easy” allow Google to do an additional scan and only include results with those needs in mind. Therefore, the best choice for your search intent is “best crockpot cheese paste” because it will provide more specific results and requires fewer third-party backlinks to appear in front of the user, which is one of the factors Ahrefs uses to compute a page’s likelihood to rank.
Generally, the higher the quantity and quality of the sites linked to your site, the more it tends to rank higher. When targeting long-tail keywords, your website will be able to compete without the need for as many opportunities to link to external sources.
Long-tail keywords are important because they convert better. After all, the people looking for them know exactly what they want. And by targeting your content to those keywords, you can give them what they are looking for. As a result, all these long-tail phrases generate more income.
Long tail keywords can also help you create new content for your website. If you have a blog with content that doesn’t rank very well for meaningful keywords, research variations on that theme to think about what people might be searching for that pertains to that broad theme. Long-tail keywords can allow you to write content that will outperform the competition so that you can rank in your niche.
In summary, long-tail keywords are important because:
- Fill in the user’s intent
- Eliminate the competition
- Get conversions, not just traffic
- It can help you create new content.
To ensure optimization for long-tail keywords, complete keyword research, have in-depth knowledge of your company, products, and website, take advantage of internal links and make sure your website is visible to crawlers.
Getting a high rating for the ‘best crockpot cheese pasta’ is a lot less sexy than the # 3 rating for ‘cheese’. But they work, because the people searching for them are more likely to buy or become leads, and because the vast majority of searches are long-tail.