In the latest instalment of our series on the nuts and bolts of SEO strategy, we’re turning our attention to long tail keywords. With searching habits changing as people use voice search more often, long tail keywords are becoming a hot topic in the world of SEO. So, how do long tail keywords work, and how do you get the most out of them? Keep reading to find out!
What Are Long Tail Keywords?
You can’t develop an SEO strategy without keywords. Keywords are the search terms that you want to be on page 1 of Google for, so they’re at the heart of SEO. The difficulty is that keywords can be hugely competitive and ranking for the most competitive keywords can feel like an impossible quest.
Long tail keywords can make that quest less impossible and more attainable. The most competitive keywords are short - 1-2 words - that specifically relate to your niche. By contrast, long tail keywords are…well, longer. You see, it regardless of who your target audience is, they’re unlikely to be searching for 1-2 word keywords. Those 1-2 keywords will be in their search phrases, but people who are likely to convert tend to search for longer phrases.
In contrast, users who are merely researching or looking for information tend to use short tail. It's a paradox that while short tail keywords have a higher search volume, those searching them are less likely to be your target audience.
This is good news for you when you’re wanting to rank on page 1. Get to know your target audience, understand the way they phrase their searches, and you can leave the competition behind eating dust. Examples of long tail keywords that people search for could be:
• Best web designer in Cambridge
• How to use SEO to rank higher
• Dog sitters with secure gardens
You can see from these examples that long tail keywords are more specific and take different forms. They include information that qualifies the search with details that the searcher is interested in or concerned about. Long tail search phrases can be truly bizarre in some cases, too!
Voice Search and Long Tail Keywords
The way that people search for what they’re looking for is changing with the introduction of devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri that allow users to search by voice. Voice search takes long tail keywords to a whole new level. People phrase their searches differently when they do a voice search compared to typing into a search engine.
That means that there are even more opportunities to rank for long tail keywords than ever before. Get into the mind of your target audience and you can target long tail keywords that your competitors haven’t considered. Ranking on page 1 is no longer a pipe dream but a possibility.
Leveraging Long Tail Keywords for Success: Step by Step
Step 1: Research
To take advantage of long tail keywords in your SEO strategy, you need to do some research. It’s actually really easy to get a handle on the types of (weird and wonderful) things that people type into search boxes.
Start with your root keyword(s), and type this into the search box in Google. Notice that as you type, Google will begin to offer you suggestions. These suggestions are based on the things that people search for and can give you some long tail keyword ideas. Start a list of possible keywords to target.
More and more people are using questions as search terms, so it makes sense to capitalise on these in your long tail keyword strategy. Get creative and think about all the possible questions that your targets are searching for that relate to your root keywords. Add these to your list.
Step 2: Search Volume Stats
When you have a list of possible long tail keywords to target, you need to get a handle on the kind of search volume. How many people are likely to be searching for those keywords - or what is the demand? It helps you to understand the number of searches for the long tail keywords you’ve identified so you can rule out those with very low volume.
There are a variety of keyword reattach tools that you can use online to gather the data on search volume. It’s best to create a spreadsheet with the data that you gather to make it easy to see what you’re looking at.
Step 3: Check Out the Competition
Even with long tail keywords, there’s going to be some kind of competition. Sure, it’s easier to rank for long tail keywords, but that doesn’t make it a dead cert. To get the best results from your long tail strategy, you need to know who you’re up against. That way, you can avoid the frustration of trying to compete against big brands that could be a barrier to page 1 results.
The easiest way to get an idea of what you’re up against is to type your long tail keyword ideas into the search box and look at the results. An advantage of this is that Google will display a list of ‘People also ask/search for’ terms that can add fresh ideas to your list.
Tools such as Mozbar can help you see more information on the results - such as domain authority and backlinks. You’ll get an idea of whether you’ve got a chance to rank on page 1 or not this way. This information is really valuable - it means you don’t end up wasting time on long tail keywords that you’re not likely to rank for.
Step 4: Create Content
When you’ve found the long tail keywords that offer the best opportunity for your business, you need to create SEO friendly content. We’ll be looking at how to create content that benefits your SEO strategy later on in our series, so check back later for help with this step! In a nutshell, your content needs to be high quality and targeted to your keywords. Give your target audience relevant and valuable content for the best possible results.
Long tail keywords make ranking on page 1 of Google search results a definite possibility. As people’s search habits change, so do the long tail keywords you need to target, so you should keep up your research to identify fresh opportunities.