Keywords are the building blocks of how search engines like Google and Bing find relevant content and decide rank value on search engine results pages (SERPs).
For small or medium-sized businesses, contrary to what you might expect, focusing on less obvious and more specific keywords can drive better traffic to your website, resulting in more sales.
These search terms are known as long-tail keywords and can transform your business when used to help you produce audience-centric content.
Long-tail keywords defined
If you plotted every search from one month on a graph, you’d get a curve shape. A small number of search terms with high search volume, such as “Amazon” or “Tesco”; a slightly bigger number of searches that have medium search volume such as “How long to boil an egg” or “UK holiday rentals”; then a huge number of searches – around 95 per cent of them – that have such low search volumes they’re Googled only a handful of times per month e.g. “What is the best steak restaurant in Canterbury”.
The curve looks like a creature with a head, body and a long, long tail, hence the name long-tail keyword. In general, long-tail terms tend to be three or more words long.
If you own a bakery called Marchment’s, that’s still a long-tail keyword because it has a relatively low search volume. Equally, long phrases might still be short tail keywords or a head term if people search for it sufficiently often e.g. “HMRC customer service helpline number”.
Targeted traffic generation
Keyword profitability isn’t determined by whether they generate hundreds of search results.
It might seem perverse to focus your content creation efforts on something that people hardly ever search for. However, doing so means that people who arrive on your website have already narrowed down what they’re looking for so it’s easier to convert them into customers.
To use marketing terminology, you’re meeting them when they’re further down the sales funnel.
Search queries using long-tail keywords
For example, compare someone using the search term “Accountants” with someone typing in “Which accountant in Bristol can submit my tax return”.
The first person might be looking for a job as an accountant, or be looking for an accountant in another country. If they land on your website, they’re useless to your business.
The second person, however, knows exactly what they want and where they want it. If they make it to your website because you offer what they want to buy, converting them into customers is much easier.
The long-tail keyword strategy brings in a smaller but more targeted audience to your website, resulting in higher conversion rates and improved return on investment.
Google’s core update
Google’s recent update in March 2023 saw the search engine double down on its commitment to return relevant results from its searches.
This has meant some top-ranking pages have plummeted down the SERPs, even if they were ranking on the first page previously.
Using long-tail keywords can be a way to regain position in search engine results, by creating highly-specific content that addresses the specific needs and queries of your target audience.
Enhanced user experience
Creating content tailored to long-tail keywords allows businesses to address specific pain points, concerns or interests of their audience.
By providing valuable and relevant information, businesses can enhance the user experience, build trust and establish themselves as industry experts.
This also helps you rank well with Google, which uses the EEAT framework based on expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness when returning search results.
Someone who thinks your answer to their question is useful might well become a future customer of your business.
Long-tail keywords typically have lower search volumes but also face less competition.
Businesses may boost their chances of appearing better on search engine results pages by focusing on these less competitive keywords. This will drive focused traffic to their website.
If you own a shoe shop you’ll never compete against the millions of results thrown up by the broad keyword “shoes”.
However, you might gain customers if you have content relevant to the search term “comfy shoes after foot surgery”.
Niche market penetration
Long-tail keywords often reflect niche markets and specific customer segments. By utilising these keywords, businesses can target and penetrate these specialised markets, gaining a competitive advantage and capturing valuable leads that may be overlooked by strategies using high-volume keywords.
For example, voice search is becoming more popular, particularly with younger audiences.
If that’s your ideal customer, then including long-tail keywords that someone would speak rather than write could help your future customers find you.
You can also use questions or commands to reflect how people search, such as “Which vacuum cleaner is best for pet hair?” or “Compare foreign currency exchange rates at NatWest and Lloyds”.
Long-tail keyword research
By recognising the power of long-tail keywords, creating content that resonates with their audience, and capitalising on the advantages of reduced competition and niche market penetration, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth and establish a strong online presence.
Long-tail keyword finder
There are lots of SEO tools and long tail keyword generators to help you find long tail keywords, many completely free, including Semrush, Google Autocomplete, Answer the Public and Also Asked.
Your long-tail keyword research could also include looking for keyword suggestions within questions on forums such as Reddit and Quora.
Conversely, using a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends or Google Ads for keyword ideas won’t help. Most long-tail keywords won’t appear, because their keyword database is focused around those that generate the most search traffic.
Proven strategies using long-tail keywords
- Search volume data: use search data in your Google Search Console to see which long-tail searches you already appear in, and jot down related keywords.
- Keyword research: use keyword research tools to find long-tail keyword suggestions.
- Create content using your relevant keywords: e.g. a landing page, blog post, or inserting long-tail keyword phrases into existing website copy.
- Rank tracking: keep a close eye on whether your content is improving your ranking in searches related to your target keyword phrase.
- Rinse and repeat: once you’ve achieved success with one seed keyword, repeat your strategy with more of your long-tail keyword ideas.
Why are long-tail keywords important?
Creating new content around long-tail keywords, making sure it is relevant and audience-centric, can drive pre-qualified traffic to your website.
If you embrace the potential of long-tail keywords and capitalise on the advantages of reduced competition and niche market penetration, you can witness a transformative impact on your website traffic and overall business success.
Get in contact today to find out how we can assist with your SEO strategy and increase your visibility.