Long-Tail Keywords
Marketing Intelligence

Everything You Need to Know About Long-Tail Keywords

by Shai Belinsky , Senior SEO Specialist 8 Min.
October 4, 2021 | Updated September 18, 2022

Every marketer strives for a superior SEO strategy to connect with their target audience. The question is, how? 

Tapping into targeted long-tail keywords is one way you can get an advantage in ranking higher on the search engine results page (SERP) and reaching the right people. As a bonus, there’s often less competition than short-tail keywords.

Get the tools you need to make SEO work for you. Keep reading to learn what long-tail keywords are, why using them properly can increase your organic traffic, and how to identify the ones that drive impact.

What are long-tail keywords?

Let’s start at the beginning. Long-tail keywords are specific (often longer) keywords that have a lower search volume, and less competition than popular keywords.

Short-tail vs long-tail keyword examples

Long-tail keywords are the best way to reach searchers who are usually prepared to take action on a product or service, a major advantage for marketers.  Basically, they allow you to rank highly on relevant keywords and are likely to bring incredibly high-intent traffic to your site by focusing on how your target audience searches. The key here is quality, not quantity.

Search demand curve keyword visual

At this point, you might be wondering why they’re called long-tail keywords. It’s a common misconception that the name is due to the length of the keywords but, in fact, it’s because they are less popular terms that fall on the tail end of the search demand curve. I’ll let my furry friend and his long tail show you what that means. 

We’ll dig our teeth into the search curve demand later so don’t scurry off quite yet. 

The 2 main types of long-tail keywords

Not all long-tail keywords are created equal. There are two main types: supporting and topical.

Supporting long-tail keywords

Supporting long-tail keywords discuss general topics and are harder to rank for even if they are technically still considered long-tail. This is because Google is smart, and for such words, it takes into consideration common keywords and includes them in the rankings. This also means the opposite; if you rank for the general term, you’ll even rank for the supporting, long-tail keywords. 

Topical long-tail keywords  

Topical long-tail keywords are specific, topic-based words that are less competitive and easier to rank for. These keywords focus specifically on your product/topic and are not based on a general main keyword.

Long-tail keyword research matters

It might seem easier to stick to high-volume, common, short-tail keywords but, correct long-tail keyword research enables you to focus on the keywords that are most likely to yield high-quality traffic. And even though long-tail queries do have low search volume, don’t let that scare you away. Remember, quality traffic is what matters most. 

5 reasons why long-tail keyword research matters

1. Rank higher with long-tail keywords

This is pretty simple. If you’re competing for a less common keyword, it’ll be easier for you to snag a top spot on the first page of a search engine. While these keywords may have fewer monthly searches, your click-through rate (CTR) is likely to be higher than it would be for popular, short-tail keywords. 

2. Long-tail keywords boast more targeted intent

There are three main types of search intent queries: informational, transactional, and navigational. As previously mentioned, specific, long-tail keywords are usually used by searchers who are ready to take action. 

3 types of search intent: informational, transactional, navigational

It can be a bit confusing, so think about it like this: if someone wants to go on vacation to Madagascar, they could search either “top hotels in Madagascar prices” or “Madagascar vacation.” Which search seems closer to a purchase and which is research? 

Keywords that relate to a transactional intent empower you to bring in highly-relevant traffic that is close to purchase, for a high ROI and conversion rate

3. Match how real people search

Long-tail keywords are much more “real life.” For example, most people will search for something like “Best places to travel in winter” when visiting Google and not “travel.” Using long-tail keywords will help you find potential customers based on their true search habits.

4. Ramp up your conversion funnel

Long-tail keywords have the potential to support your conversion funnel by bringing in highly relevant potential customers and catching them in your funnel. High-intent searches allow you to fine-tune the content in your digital marketing funnel to up your chances of ultimately closing the sale.

5. Support your ranking for short-tail keywords

Don’t let long-tail keywords do all the work. Pairing them up with short and high-volume keywords is a great way to boost your rank and your content. This way, your site will look even more credible to Google and you’ll rank higher across multiple keywords. 

Search-demand curve

As promised, you don’t need to hunt elsewhere for information on the search curve demand. Let’s start by defining what it is. The search-demand curve shows us the frequency of search terms in a certain market. 

While the top search terms boast incredibly high numbers of searchers, they do not make up the vast majority of queries. Long-tail keywords terms do. In other words, for every popular search term, there are several related long-tail terms. Understanding the search-demand curve helps us realize that there is massive potential to win traffic with the proper long-tail keywords.

Ranking for a term with millions of searches per month is not only difficult due to search engine algorithms, but often very expensive. To rank on the first page of search engine results, take the long-tail road.

Search demand curve with keyword examples

How to find long-tail keywords with free tools

Long-tail keyword research is a bit different than typical keyword research. The possibilities are vast and therefore it’s important to focus on your niche and its highly relevant search terms.

Consider how your customers really search

When you go online to search for something, what do you typically type in the Google search box? Let’s look at long-tail keyword examples. While “San Francisco attractions” may be a popular search query, you may be more likely to type “Best things to do in San Francisco with little kids,” as it fits your particular needs more accurately. A good long-tail keyword phrase can speak the language of your customers. 

Look at Google’s Autofill Terms

Use Google as your assistant to find long-tail keyword ideas. Start looking up a search term and see how Google’s Autocomplete assistant completes your phrase. This could guide you to potential long-tail keywords that you hadn’t thought of before or other related searches that are highly relevant to your product.

Stick with Google

Surprise! Google is on this list twice. No, it’s not a mistake. Google’s “people also ask” and “related search” features are invaluable resources. They show you what questions people ask surrounding your topic and other related searches. This tool provides insight into their interest and search intent. 

The insights Google provides can help you understand what your target audience is actually looking for. Can you spot why this step is crucial? 

Hint: women’s clothes vs. men’s clothes

Differing search intent example: women's clothes vs men's clothes

Use a keyword research tool

Our keyword generator tool collects a list of long-tail keywords for your strategy.  Enter a general search term and our tool will produce hundreds of keyword suggestions from exact, high-volume words to long-tail related keywords. You’ll receive a wide range of information about each word, including search volume, trends, cost per click (CPC), website leaders for specific terms, organic vs. paid, and the current search term leader.

Two of our favorite features of the Keyword Generator:

1. Keyword gap analysis. Here, you can spot gaps in your content marketing plan. This gives you the opportunity to see where competitors are winning traffic so you can accurately assess what you may be missing to optimize your strategy. 

Simlarweb's keyword gap anaylsis

2. Seasonal keywords. This popular feature provides a deep dive into any category based on seasonality and gives you insight into yearly and monthly trends for your keyword. This is how you stay one step ahead of the competition and become the first one to make moves on a keyword that is about to experience an increase in traffic.

Similarweb's seasonal keyword analysis

You can also use the keyword generator to:

  • Cluster your keywords by topic, intent, and business value. Instead of building web pages optimized around one keyword, you develop your website around key topics that are central to your business and services.
  • Build out your content marketing strategy with SEO-optimized content.
  • Discover the best keywords for your paid search campaigns.
  • Give the right titles to your articles or blog posts.

Traditional vs. long-tail keyword research

There are three specific areas that long-tail keyword research hits differently than traditional keywords.

Traffic

Traffic is a double-edged sword. On one hand, there is much less traffic for a long-tail keyword. On the other hand, you’ll rank higher, and the buyer will have higher intent when searching for these words. Therefore, the natural thought that these keywords are not worthwhile or worth an investment isn’t true. Often, using long-tail keywords is critical to drive the correct traffic to your site. 

Ranking

As we’ve discussed, ranking on a long-tail keyword is typically much easier than a super competitive, traditional keyword. If you’re in a competitive, busy field, this can be critical to your SEO strategy. 

Website performance

Long-tail keywords will drive high-intent traffic to your website. This means that you’ll see higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates by bringing in high-quality users that are ready to hit the buy button.

Optimize long-tail keywords to win organic traffic

Now that you have your keywords settled, it’s time to implement your research. The most important thing to remember is that you should write naturally and use your keywords only where they fit. Trying to use them too often is called keyword stuffing, and not only looks cheesy, but will actually hurt your SEO ranking.

You’ll need to create content specifically for your keyword to make the terminology fit smoothly. For example, if you have a travel blog and you want to target “best places to visit in Europe during the summer,” create a blog about that rather than trying to fit it into a piece about pop culture.

Include your keywords in the following places to optimize your content for search engines:

  • Meta title
  • Alt text
  • H1 (and if it’s a secondary keyword, your H2s)
  • Content itself 
    • Introduction
    • Conclusion 
    • Body of text

Add the keyword to your rank tracking routine to keep tabs on whether it achieves its goals. In other words, monitor how your content ranks for this keyword. Use a rank tracker tool, such as Rank Ranger, to ensure a tracking process that provides insights for effective optimization till you get to the top rank.

Final thoughts

Long-tail keyword research and strategy are of the utmost importance to any SEO plan. In most businesses, integrating long-tail keywords can boost marketing efforts and attract high-quality traffic from visitors who are ready to push that buy button. 

Intuitively, because search behavior varies so drastically across industries, every industry is different. So, while there are rules of thumb for best practices, it is essential to evaluate what is best for each individual situation. 

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FAQs

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are terms that have a lower search volume and are less competitive. For example, a short-tail keyword is “travel deals”, and the long-tail keyword would be “summer travel deals in LA”. 

Why use long-tail keywords for SEO?

Even though long-tail keywords have low search volumes, they allow you to focus on the keywords that bring in high-quality traffic.

How do I choose long-tail keywords?

You can choose long-tail keywords with SEO tools. Similarweb’s keyword generator tool will collate a list of long-tail keyword suggestions specific to your strategy.

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