What Are Long Tail Keywords and Why do They Matter for SEO?

John Morton

  | Published on  

May 26, 2021

Somewhere along your SEO journey past topics like keyword research you'll come across the idea of 'long tail keywords'.

Experienced content marketers undoubtedly know the value of keyword research. Selecting the right keyword can mean the difference between your blog post generating a ton of traffic or simply languishing amidst a cluttered internet search market with no one to read it.

Keyword research is a process in your content marketing and SEO strategy that should not be overlooked. However, if your company offers services in a competitive field, how are you supposed to stand out?

One way to distinguish yourself may be investing in long tail keyword research. In this post, we will look at what long tail keywords are and why they are so important to your business.

Finally, we will suggest a few tips on how you can conduct long tail keyword research for your business.

Hopefully by the end of this article, you will have some new tools to use in your SEO content marketer’s toolbox. If you're fuzzy on SEO be sure to read our intro to SEO and head back here!

What Are Long Tail Keywords?

Long tail keywords (also called low-competition keywords) are longer, more niche keywords that are going to be less competitive to rank for.

For example, say you run a pet food brand. While ranking for 'dog food' would be a dream come true - that will take a lot of effort and plenty of backlinks (especially if you have a newer website).

Targeting a specific niche (say, dry food for large breed dogs), suddenly the competition gets a bit less fierce and you have a much clearer path to ranking on Google.

Long tail keywords are ultimately tied to what your business is all about. By anticipating what your customers are searching for, you can be sure that these specific searches will make your website appear as one of the top search results. It may sound counter-intuitive at first but think for a minute about how many businesses would use the word “marketing” in their content. If you use the phrase “social media marketing” you are already getting more specific and narrowing down the results to a manageable amount where your business has the chance to appear as one of the top results.

Why do long tail keywords matter for SEO?

Long tail keywords matter because your efforts are likely better spent on keywords you can actually rank for as opposed to ones where your chances are much more slim.

There's limited space on the first page of Google (about 10 spots) and your best lever when it comes to SEO is the keyword you choose to target. Pick a keyword that is broad and competitive, and you're giving your team an uphill battle when it comes to ranking. If you opt for a keyword that is less competitive, sure the search volume might be lower - but you've got a much better chance at ranking and that means a much better chance at getting a return on your efforts.

Finally, long tail keywords can provide an opportunity for you to think creatively about your long term blog strategy. For example, if you create a Google Ads account, you will have access to the Google Keyword Planner tool which gives you access to related keyword searches and can inspire a future blog strategy.

How to find long tail keywords

Okay we've got you bought into long tail keywords, now how do you find them?

We've written a guide on how to find low-competition keywords so definitely check that out.

For a mini-crash course, focus on going as niche as possible. Rather than target broad keywords (like 'dog food') niche down (like 'best organic dog food for large breeds'). The key is to eliminate as much of the competition as possible, and target the keywords your larger competitors are not. We provide a full list of tools and resources in the guide but for the highlights, here are my favorite sources for finding long tail keywords:

  • Real conversations with your customers - if you want to get in front of more people like your customers, answer the questions your customers are asking!
  • Google Keyword Planner and Google Search Console - both free tools and they're awesome sources of niche keywords
  • Google auto suggest - an amazing feature in Google search to brainstorm keyword ideas
  • Centori - we've got a great keyword research tool to help you load up niche keywords in seconds

This gives you a great start, all of those tools except for Centori are free to use and more than enough to get up and running. If you want to really level up your keyword research, Centori starts at $29/month and gives you unlimited tracked keywords and lists - learn more about our keyword research tools here and book a free consultation!

Going Forward

Now that you know what long tail keywords are and why they are important, you can begin writing blog posts that will stand out and make a difference in your content marketing strategy. Want more SEO tips like these?

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