How to Choose the Right Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keyword research guide
Ranking well for general keywords is challenging, especially if your business is new or small. If you want to increase your traffic and conversions quickly (and with less effort), using long-tail keywords is the way to go.
While choosing the right long-tail keywords isn’t always easy, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, either.
Below we outline examples and tips on choosing keywords that get you results:
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords are search queries that consist of 3-5 words and tend to be more specific to the user’s search intent.
They are usually much easier to rank for than more general keywords like “head keywords” or “head terms.”
If your site is new, or you are not highly ranked right now, it can take years of hard work and continuous improvement to rank for highly competitive head terms like “coffee” or “marketing.”
Using our Keyword Overview Tool, we can see below that trying to rank for the head term “coffee” has a keyword difficulty of 100%.
keyword difficulty widget in semrush keyword magic tool
But a long-tail keyword like “make iced coffee at home” has a keyword difficulty of just 57%, making it a keyword much easier to rank for.
keyword difficulty widget in semrush keyword magic tool
Targeting your audience using long-tail keywords can position your content faster than a head term. Even if the long-tail keyword search volume isn’t as high as the head term, if you place your website on multiple first pages of SERPs across many long-tail keyword variations, you could still bring in a lot of traffic.
Now, let’s look at some keywords that would be easier to rank for.
Long-Tail Keyword Examples
Before further exploring long-tail keywords, let’s look at examples of words that don’t qualify as long-tail keywords. For example, the keywords below don’t qualify as long-tail keywords because they don’t reach the 3-5 word requirement.
Variations of long-tail keywords work as well–Google can understand related keywords and variations.
Here are some examples:
homemade coffee filters
make iced coffee at home
content marketing for SaaS
content marketing strategies for software
Long-tail keywords take their name from a graph of Google’s search results.
Below is a graph of how the search volume decreases as the search queries get more specific. At the same time, the possibility of conversion dramatically increases.
The few terms at the “head” of the graph are searched frequently, but most searches at the “tail” of the chart are for longer and more obscure keywords.
Long-tail keywords aren’t searched much on their own, but they make up the majority of search traffic when added up.
Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Key for Boosting Traffic and Conversions
By targeting long-tail keywords instead of head keywords, you are more likely to attract visitors interested in your site, product, or service. Here’s why:
Easier to Rank: There is a ton of competition and results for common head keywords since they are broader. At times, a head term can have billions of results. But for a long-tail keyword that is more focused, there may be millions of results.
For instance, the term “sushi” generates 876 million search results, whereas “vegan sushi restaurant Chicago” generates only 7.4 million search results. Lower search results mean less competition, making it easier for your content to rank.
Targets The Audience Better: A user’s search query can help us determine search intent, whether it is navigational, commercial, transactional, or informational. Since long-tail keywords tend to be more specific and less competitive, someone who searches for a long-tail keyword is probably ready to make a purchase or commitment.
Someone who searches for a general keyword, on the other hand, might just be doing preliminary keyword research or weighing all their options. But chances are, they already know what they want, now they need to find it. Of the two users, the second is the one you want on your site, and search intent can help you determine how your long-tail keyword will target the user.
Less Expensive Advertising: If you use Google Ads, long-tail keywords will also help you get more bang for your advertising buck. Competitive keywords tend to have a high cost per click. Still, keywords with a lower search volume or competition are cheaper and more targeted, thus giving you a higher probability of conversion. In short, less competitive terms mean less ad spend and better ROI.
How to Find the Right Long-Tail Keywords
Now that you know why long-tail keywords matter, how can you start using them?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for finding long-tail keywords that draw traffic and conversions. You may have to use several keywords before finding one that gives you the results you’re looking for.
You can follow some principles to create good lists of keywords to try; let’s look at each of them.
Know Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
To find keywords that pay off for you, start by thinking about your business. Ask yourself these questions:
What makes your product or service uniquely desirable or useful?
What kind of people need what you are offering?
Why should they choose you over your competitors?
Keep these unique benefits in mind when choosing your long-tail keywords. Ideally, your keywords should highlight what you do best and why you are different from the competition.
These factors will help you reach users who need what you are selling. Remember, the more unique the search query, the fewer viewers. However, it’s the conversions that matter.
Determine What Your Target Audience Needs and Wants
Your potential customers have needs and wants — your job is to figure out those needs and wants before moving forward.
What questions do they need to answer?
What pain points do people have?
What solutions do people need that you can provide?
What things do people consider before they invest in what you offer?
Your sales team can often answer these questions for you. Anyone within your organization who deals with customers or clients has insights you can use. Create a list of answers to these questions before moving on to the most crucial step: keyword research.
Do Long-Tail Keyword Research
So you know your USP, your customers, and their needs and wants, but that isn’t enough.
Next, you have to research and make sure that the words you would use to reach new customers are the exact words they would use in a query.
Keyword research can help you discover related words you haven’t considered. It can also help discover keyword variations your competitors use. You can conduct more research with the help of our Ultimate Keyword Research Guide for SEO.
Keep User Intent in Mind
After making a list of long-tail keywords to use, review them again. Consider why people search for those terms.
What are they hoping to find?
What stage of the buying process are they in?
When you use your keyword on your site, ensure your content provides those users’ information.
Whatever you do, don’t use long-tail keywords that aren’t a good fit, even if you think they will be easy to rank for. For instance, don’t write a blog post that matches a search query for “make iced coffee at home” and then create content that talks only about your coffee product.
Visitors will be annoyed if your site or product doesn’t address their needs or answer their questions when they get to your site. This is where understanding search intent can come in handy.
Within Semrush tools like Organic Research, Keyword Overview, or Domain Overview, you can evaluate whether the long-tail keyword is informational, transactional, commercial, or navigational.
search intent widget in semrush keyword overview tool
Learn more about the different types of search intent and how to infer each one in this helpful article.
Get Keyword Suggestions
with the Keyword Magic Tool, the biggest keyword database on the market
Tools to Find Lists of Long-Tail Keywords
Now that you know the benefits of long-tail keywords and have an idea of how to search for them, you need the right tools to get started.
You can use many keyword tool options to find lists of long-tail keywords in your niche. Here are our favorites.
Keyword Magic Tool
With the Keyword Magic Tool, you can input keywords and select your country. Semrush will provide a list of keywords you can filter for broad, phrase, exact, or related keywords.
You can also select individual keywords and add them to your keyword manager — a great place to keep a record of all the keywords you want to monitor or use. You can also export the keywords in the list to Excel.
results in semrush in keyword magic tool for term “iced coffee”
Topic Research Tool
With the Topic Research Tool, you can search for a long-tail keyword, and the tool will return a collection of related topics and information in different formats. You can use the information here to get more long-tail ideas.
Initially, you are given related keywords and recent headlines related to your keyword in a card format:
semrush topic research tool
Pro Tip: Questions can be your long-tail keyword.
When you click on a card, you see recent headlines and questions related to your keyword topic and the topic of the card.
These questions can give you many long-tail keyword ideas and help you determine the questions you need to answer for your audience.
semrush topic research tool overview view
Keyword Gap Tool
With this tool, you can add your domain and enter up to four competitors at a time. The tool will show you keywords you both rank for and what SERP position they’re in.
So if you look at the image below, two stores rank in the top 10 for “make iced coffee at home,” and one ranks at position 14.
semrush keyword gap tool
Moving up to the top 10 might be challenging, but they could aim for long-tail keywords. So if you put “make iced coffee at home” into the Keyword Magic tool, you will see a list of long-tail keyword options.
keyword magic tool results
You will also see words your competitors have created content for that you may have forgotten. The Semrush keyword manager is available in this tool. It allows you to add whatever keyword you find to a list you might use later.
Your marketing team can then review these keywords and decide what to use in campaigns.
Google Ads Keyword Planner
Inside your Google Ads account, Keyword Planner presents you with two options — “Discover new keywords” and “Get search volume and forecasts.”
Side Note: If you have a paid Google Ads account, you will get better data and information than free accounts. Learn more here.
With these two options below, you can gain insights into different search terms and see the estimated volume of clicks and impressions you could receive if you run ads with these keywords.
When using for keyword research, you can search for terms and brands, enter a domain to use as a filter, and use other filters if you want to for an even more targeted search for long-tail keyword ideas.
Discover new keywords section of Google Ad Planner
This tool will generate a list of keywords for you. It also tells you how much Google Ads competition there is for each keyword and how much you can expect to pay per click.
Even if you are not planning to run a Google Ads campaign, this gives you a good idea of each keyword’s worth and how difficult it will be to rank for each keyword in organic results.
Google’s Keyword Planner is the best place to start, but there are many other helpful keyword-generating tools around the web, too. If you need more ideas, check out this article: 12 Best Free Keyword Research Tools for 2020.
Other Methods to Expand Your Keyword Lists
Keyword tools can give you many good ideas, but don’t stop there. A little old-fashioned digging can help you develop long-tail keywords that you might not be able to find in online generators.
Keep reading for some other places you can look.
Google’s Autocomplete Feature
When you start typing something into Google’s search box, it will show you a drop-down list of terms people search for. Add extra words to your search term to generate more long-tail possibilities. You can also add a letter to see different autocomplete keywords after your search term.
For instance, if you are looking for long-tail keywords related to content marketing, you might type something like “best content marketing p” into the search box and get the following list of suggestions:
Finding long-tail keywords with Google’s Autocomplete
Protip: if you don’t want to look through Google’s autocomplete suggestions by hand, try using keywordtool.io. This free tool generates autocomplete keywords for you.
Refer to Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) Feature
If Google shows you common questions people ask, there is always something available to learn. When you do Google searches, always review this section of the SERPs to expand our long-tail keyword list.
Finding long-tail keywords with Google’s People Also Ask
The box expands when you click on a question and provides more questions to get keyword ideas from.
Expanding Google’s People Also Ask by clicking questions
Use the Related Search Terms Feature
Try searching for a head keyword or one of your long-tail keywords, and see what kind of related searches Google suggests at the bottom of the page.
For instance, if you search for the keyword “content marketing for businesses,” you might also want to use related keywords similar to “small business content” or “explain why content marketing works.”
Tip: For even more detailed related searches, click on one of the blue links and look at the related searches for that topic.
For “why small businesses need content marketing,” we found:
Boards, Forums, and Social Media
Visit message boards and forums related to your topic and pay attention to the questions people ask. Consider borrowing entire questions or phrases that are similar to your long-tail keywords.
For instance, a search for content marketing on Quora might inspire you to use the long-tail keywords “beginner mistakes in content marketing” and “examples of corporate marketing.”
There are countless places to gather information from online forums, boards, or social media. To expand your knowledge on the topic, here are some other helpful guides:
How to Use Quora For Content Marketing and Keyword Research
How to Use Reddit for Keyword Research to Amp Up Your Content Marketing Strategy
Weekly Wisdom with Itamar Blauer: YouTube Keyword Research
The 2020 Keyword Research Guide for SEO
Using Long-Tail Keywords Effectively
Finding good long-tail keywords is only half the battle.
Once you have chosen your keywords, you need to use them correctly. While this topic could be an article on its own, here are a few tips that will get you off to a good start with your new keywords.
Use your keywords naturally. Some keywords may not be easy to use in a sentence, so you might have to get creative with punctuation or adjust your keyword a little. Misusing the keyword in the content may turn off the user.
Carefully place your keywords. If you can, include your long-tail keywords and variants of them in your page’s title, headers, and subheaders. Use it in your first paragraph, too — preferably in your first sentence.
Don’t sacrifice usefulness and readability. Don’t worry too much if your keyword doesn’t fit somewhere like a header. It is better to keep your copy natural and grammatically correct than to force a keyword in where it sticks out like a sore thumb. Use your keyword where you can, but don’t sacrifice your content’s usefulness and readability.
Consider a user’s Search Intent. If you’re not sure whether your content is matching up with what the user is looking to answer, Semrush’s Search Intent feature can help you analyze the user’s search intent so you can better match their query.
Get Started on Your Long-Tail Keyword Research
Keywords may not be everything in the SEO world anymore, but they are still crucial for good SEO.
If you haven’t been ranking well for head keywords, switch your focus to long-tail keywords instead. Once you find keywords that work for you, you could see a ranking boost (and a corresponding traffic boost).
Read more articles @learnallpro.com.