Using Long Tail Keywords

Digging deeper into user intent

SEO is an ever-changing and complex business and in order to gain the best results, professionals should keep up with algorithm changes and industry trends all of the time.

At the moment, there’s much debate about the relevance of keywords in modern content and meta information, but there’s little doubt that they still have their place, even if it’s not as important as it used to be.

Popular keywords remain highly competitive and getting ranked according to these, even when using PPC, can be difficult to achieve and very costly. This is why a number of keyword tactics have to be employed in order to get as good a ranking as possible. Getting to the front page of Google is the aim of all SEO professionals, not least because when searching, not many people go beyond the first page.

Of course, keywords are not the only SEO tactic that should be employed, a mix of excellent content, back linking and the use of primary, secondary and long tail keywords should be considered. It’s also wise to include social and content marketing into the mix too.

What are long tail keywords?

Simply put, long tail keywords are made up of more than two-three words which relate to the content on the page in some way. For example, if a client has a gardening site that supplies services to the local area, then their primary keyword might be gardener with a secondary keyword as gardens. An example of a long tail keyword for this would be garden services Sydney, so that the location will come up in search too.

The use of long tail keywords depends on the premise that searchers may very well be extremely specific when it comes to search terms, so they may type in something like tree surgery Sydney. This may then put your site at the top of the search above competitors, just by using the additional technique.

In PPC, long tail keywords are much less expensive than the broader primary and secondary counterparts and should make up part of the overall SEM campaign.

How do I know which ones to use?

There are a number of online resources to help you research long tail keywords and the first of these is Google Suggest. When you begin to type a word into Google, suggestions for what you’re looking for display in a dropdown box beneath the search box: this is Google Suggest.

Keeping your terms very relevant to your industry and content, you can type in phrases which you think you might use. Often, the most common searches will come up first, giving you a good idea of which will work for your site.

Whilst they may not all be suitable, it’s an excellent starting point that will give you ideas. Another Google resource which is invaluable is Google Trends, which allows you to see which key phrases relating to your business are popular at the moment. So, if you were to type in gardener, then the resource will return a graph showing how much interest that particular word gets, locally and internationally, as well as words and terms which are rising in popularity, giving you a head start on competitor sites without spending the earth on PPC.

Google AdWords is another great tool for carrying out this kind of research and other sites, such as YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, eBay and Bing can also be used. In fact, use as many as possible in order to determine which phrase is best for you.

You can also get third-party software for this, although it’s wise to read reviews and ask friends before making a purchase.

Google AdWords is an invaluable resource when it comes to keyword research as it makes intelligent suggestions. If you type in a phrase that’s three to four words long, then a plethora of results will be returned for suggested phrases.

So, going with the garden site again, if you to type in tree surgery Sydney, then the results returned are likely to be:

  • Tree doctor Sydney
  • Landscaping Sydney
  • Tree care
  • Palm tree care
  • Tree lopping

The list does go on (and on) but you get the general idea. This means that you have a lot more scope and opportunity when it comes to competing with keyword usage and can really boost your SEO efforts.

Whilst long tail keywords have been in use for around 6 years, people in the SEO space seemed to forget about them for a while, until recently. This is more than likely due to algorithm changes and the realisation for many that they would have to change their keyword tactics.

It’s accepted that they are a great tool for conversion rates and traffic, with some SEO professionals believing that they now have more importance than competitive keywords. This is because they tend to return a lower bounce rate and better on-page metrics.

This is because the phrases tend to rely on user intent, and this is vital to how people searching the web will find your site. If you can find long tail keywords that reveal this user intent, then you’re onto a winner in terms of SEO.

For the SMB, the use of long tail can be the difference between a site being found and not, due to the high cost and ultra-competitiveness of primary keywords. This means that when discussing SEO with an agency, it’s important for smaller firms to ensure that they are used.

Kerry Butters

A prolific technology writer, Kerry was an authority in her field and produced content for a variety of high profile sites in her niche. Also a published author, she adored the written word and all things tech and internet related. Sadly she passed away in February 2016 after a valiant battle with cancer.