long tail bird

Long Tail Keywords & SEO:  The Ultimate Connection

What are long tail keywords?

In this blog, we are going to be discussing the benefits of long tail keywords and I will be sharing with you free long tail keyword tools to help in your SEO efforts.

A long tail keyword is defined as a search phrase that has 3 or more words.  What makes it unique is that it is very specific to a niche target audience vs. a mass audience.

Let’s walk through an example of a long tail keyword we all can relate to…researching a much-needed vacation:

  • A generic search could be for cruise vacations
  • You might tighten it up by search cruise vacations to Bermuda (still fairly vague)
  • Your next search is for Celebrity cruises to Bermuda in December (very targeted)

Celebrity cruises to Bermuda in December is a perfect example of the use of long tail keywords

Now let’s put this in context as it relates to the customer journey online …there are 5 basic phases:
  1. Awareness of what is available to them
  2. Education on the different alternatives they have
  3. Purchase based on finding exactly what they need
  4. Product evaluation based on their recent purchase
  5. Customer advocacy / evangelism assuming they really believe in the product

When a potential customer is doing online research and searches with a long tail keyword, you have the advantage of them skipping step 1 and 2.  They already know specifically what they want.

Now, I am about to make a very bold statement…Are you listening?

You will be much better off in the long run by focusing your SEO strategy on long-tail keywords vs. just basic keywords.    SEO and long tail

There are three key reasons for this…

  1. A long-tail keyword is a very specific phrase and generally indicates a “buy” signal. It is a proven fact that long tail keywords always convert better.
  2. Searching today is usually done with a phrase…pay close attention next time you are conducting a Google search…you generally search with specific phrases…am I right?
  3. Long tail keywords rank better because they are far more specific and the competition is less.

My personal theory is that it’s better to get less traffic with more qualified search results vs. a larger quantity of mediocre search results.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The obvious question is why don’t we use the long-tail keyword strategy for all of our optimization efforts?  The answer is simple…It’s actually really quite difficult to identify the right long-tail keywords to use in a campaign.

How do you identify the long-tail keywords that are best for my SEO campaigns?

Let me walk you through the 3 step process to do long tail keyword research…

My first step always is to focus my lens towards customer needs.  I often take a piece of paper and list their pain points and how I can solve them.  This 10-minute exercise sets the tone for the rest of my research because I am coming at it always from the customer’s point of view.

My second step is to go to Google Suggest & Related Keywords.  You have probably used this service hundreds of times and didn’t even know it!  Type in the term “long tail keywords” and see what comes up.  Go to the end of the page and you will see some great free tools to identify long tail keywords.  The beauty of this approach is that Google is showing you results from real searches.

My third step is all about the competition.  My favorite keyword research tool is Jaxxy because it analyzes keywords from a competitive perspective very well.
Another more direct approach is to research your competition’s titles, sub-headers and blog descriptor to identify possible long tail keywords they are using.

Other very good tools you should checkout include:


Are there any downsides to using long tail keywords?

The biggest downside from my perspective is that your search volume will be lower, but theoretically it shouldn’t matter since you are getting more qualified leads.

The other point worth noting is that long tail keywords sometimes don’t make a lot sense to your visitors if you use them very literally.  As with all keywords, the challenge is to incorporate into your natural writing style.

Why wouldn’t I use them all the time if they convert so well?

That, in fact, is the $1,000,000 question!  It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  Are you looking for high traffic volume or quality (or both)?

The danger is keeping your eggs all in one basket…and if you are wrong about your search terms, the results can be pretty dismal.  Once again, that’s why I spend the time to create a solid strategy and carefully vet my options through a variety of tools, not just one.

Where is the most effective place to put them?

I tend to place the long tail as my blog or page headline or subhead.  In my experience, that seems to be the most effective.  Remember that you want it above the fold.

I hope that you enjoyed this primer on long tail keywords.  Please make them an integral part of your short and long term strategy.

Thanks again for stopping by!


Here are some other related blog posts that you may enjoy:

Tips for Writing a Great Blog in Record Time

How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy

Long Tail Keywords and the Impact on SEO

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