It's no secret that SEOs want to ensure the greatest visibility in the Google search results for their brand. One way to achieve this is through the use of long-tail keywords.
We know that complete topic authority in a brand niche or market is achieved by covering all aspects of the topic in full. Therefore, uncovering the full scope of keywords to target - including the phrases focused on highly specific information - unlocks the true goldmine of SEO potential.
Coincidentally, this is the most popular keyword type today's searchers are using to find your business, so allow me to show you how to unlock that potential and drive users to your site content.
In this post, you can expect to learn:
- What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
- Why You Should Focus on Long-Tail
- How to Find Long-Tail Terms - My 2 Methods
- How to Use Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords are longer search phrases that meet two requirements:
- They contain at least three words, and
- They focus on highly-specific information.
Because of those characteristics, long-tail keywords typically have smaller search volume. Fewer people type those specific phrases into the search box, making long tail phrases seem less attractive in an SEO strategy.
At the same time, however, customers are more likely to use long-tail keywords when they are closer to the buying stage (or use voice search.) Someone searching for a head term (a category-like keyword with potentially vast meaning) is, most likely, only researching the concept. A person asking a specific question about a product, on the other hand, is gathering specific information to make a more informed buying decision.
Let me illustrate that with an example. Imagine that you run a store selling earbuds. Your main focus is on the head term – earbuds – of course. You want to attract as many customers searching for information about the product online.
You know, however, that targeting just the phrase, earbuds, isn’t enough, and judging by the 75 million results in a quick Google search, you're probably never going to rank for that term alone.
That's a lot of search results for your head term!
Armed with this understanding, you include other search term types in your SEO strategy as well. For example, you target category-level keywords, too, like: wireless earbuds or noise-canceling earbuds, Apple earbuds, and so on.
Now, I agree that those phrases cover a lot of the topic, but they certainly don’t include everything a potential customer might want to know about the product.
This is where your long-tail keywords come into play.
Long-tail keywords help you expand each of those categories. By incorporating them into your strategy, you ensure that you cover the topic to its fullest, regardless of the user intent you target.
Let’s go back to our earbuds store example. As its SEO, it's your job to attract buyers who are actively seeking earbuds and only those researching more information about them in terms of what your company is selling.
Long-tail keywords help you target both intent to buy and intent to know. Example phrases to target for the commercial intent might include best true wireless earbuds, best Bluetooth earbuds, earbuds for swimming, earbuds for running -- just to name a few.
Then, when targeting the informational intent to influence their research, you can offer advice on how to select the right earbuds, how to wear apple earbuds, or how to charge wireless earbuds, and so on.
In each of the examples of long-tail keywords above, I should note that these are actual keywords I discovered quickly using the seoClarity platform.
Topic Explorer report showing long-tail keywords along with associated data.
Why Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
I can think of three important reasons:
- Long-tail keywords form the majority of search queries today.
With the rise of voice search and the Hummingbird update that allowed us to search the way we want, we’ve grown accustomed to using custom queries. We ask Google questions, after all (sometimes even out loud!). We give the search engine scraps of information about the topic of our search. We specify the object of our search thoroughly. And, you know what? This works! Doing so often requires using long search queries.
- Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank since fewer websites are competing for them.
Unfortunately, the myth that a brand should focus on its head terms only still prevails among many SEOs. All the while longer phrases offer an incredible opportunity to expand their search visibility much quicker.
- Long-tail keywords attract a more engaged audience. These queries focus on highly-specific information. As a result, there is less chance of attracting a random visitor or someone who is unsure of what they're seeking. To use our earbuds store example again, anyone searching for best wireless earbuds for running is, from what we can assume about the buyer, quite deep into the buying journey. We cannot be as certain however about a person typing earbuds into the search box.
How to Find Long-Tail Keywords: The Process and Tools to Use
So, how do we begin to determine the best terms for our strategy? Marketers and SEOs can find longer search phrases in two ways:
- Manually, or
- By using dedicated SEO tools.
Method #1: Manual Research
Google offers a few keyword tools to uncover long-tail phrases.
Autosuggest is one of them. Typing the head term into the search box will yield long-tail keyword suggestions immediately.
Are you really feeling lucky doing manual research for long-tail keywords?
Scrolling to the bottom of the SERP will reveal searches related to the head term. Many of those will be long-tail keywords, too.
Many queries trigger the "People Also Ask" section in SERPs. Questions listed there include great long-tail keywords as well.
Similarly, researching sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers can reveal what specific questions your audience asks about their topics of interest.
Wikipedia entries can help find many long-tail keyword as well. This single section of an article on headphones provides a whole range of long-tail phrases our earbuds store from the example above could research further. And that's what I've found in just one section in the entire Wikipedia entry!
But as you might have guessed in reading this, there is a major flaw in the approach above. It’s time-consuming! What’s more, going through the process manually never reveals the complete insight into what searchers want to know. Evaluating the search landscape one term at a time will do that!
Luckily, my method below solves those challenges!
Method #2: Using a Dedicated Keyword Research Tool
seoClarity offers a whole range of ways to research new keywords and topics. One capability in particular – Topic Explorer – allows clients to discover long-tail search phrases quickly and do so at a scale that enterprise companies could have only dreamt of in the past.
First of all, Topic Explorer gives you access to the world’s largest competitive data set in the mobile-first world. You can use it to search, filter and analyze keyword and topic data in real-time and at an unmatched scale.
I won’t belabor the details here (you can learn more about it on the Research Grid page), but allow me to demonstrate how to use it to find those valuable long-tail keywords.
To begin, search for your head term, as you would normally.
Then, set the Word Count filter to display phrases that are longer than 2 words only.
Based on this simple tweak, Topic Explorer filters out any keywords that don’t match the above criteria. The result will be a list of long-tail keywords only.
Voilà! Here are the results provided by Topic Explorer.
The tool doesn’t stop there. You can filter the results further by the user intent and identify phrases that most closely match your campaign.
You can also review common keyword patterns. With this, you can plan a long-term content strategy in rapid time.
You can even see which phrases relate to your target audience or industry!
Using our earbuds store example again, if my focus was on targeting athletes or sports-minded users, I can verify the most relevant long-tail keywords used in that industry through Topic Explorer.
As a result, I don’t run into a risk of targeting phrases my potential customers actually don’t use.
Finally, you can research the competition’s keywords. Topic Explorer will not only tell you what other domains target those phrases, it will also deliver a list of all of the long-tail keywords they use in their content.
Isn’t that amazing?!
How to Use Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content
Before we talk about using long-tail keywords to rank higher, we need to distinguish between two different types of such phrases:
- Long-tail keywords that focus on a specific information, and
- Such phrases that only expand on a head term.
Let me explain the difference.
The first group includes keywords and questions that focus on gaining a specific answer. Long-tail keywords like "The best earbuds for running" ask a specific question that you should answer with a dedicated page.
But a phrase like this: "What will damage your hearing more, earbuds or headphones?" could easily be a part of a bigger question, for example - What makes earbuds better than standard headphones? As a result, this information can reside on another page, and still rank for that phrase and attract relevant traffic.
So, when using long-tail keywords in content, you must decide whether a particular phrase requires a dedicated page or could be targeted with another content. Then, you either create that page, making the long-tail keyword the target phrase. Or you expand an existing content with information that will allow you to rank for the phrase also.
Tap Into Your Keyword Goldmine
Once you dive deep into your long-tail keywords, you're sure to see the benefits of a long-tail keyword goldmine, such as:
- greater visibility in a search thanks to greater topic authority
- more interested and qualified users on your site
Want to see how Topic Explorer will transform your SEO strategy and overall topic authority? Let us show you how easy it is today!
GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR, MARY KATE MACK
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated with the latest and most accurate information.