There’s nothing more fascinating to the SEO team at Submerge than keyword research – it’s like a backstage pass to the internet, revealing what people are looking for when they go online.

But when it comes to SEO, being vague doesn’t cut it. Welcome to the world of long-tail keywords – the specific phrases that people are most likely to type into search engines when theyre near the point of purchase. Long-tail keywords are also more likely to be used in voice search, thanks to our tendency to use complete sentences when speaking.

Unlike their broad, short-tail counterparts, these detailed keywords offer a clear snapshot of someone’s search intent. This could be commercial, informational, navigational or transactional (more on that later).

So, integrate long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy, and you’ll be able to target your audience more effectively.

How do we do it? Read on to learn more about long-tail keywords and the crucial role they can play for your business.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are very specific keyword phrases that people are likely to use when they’re close to the point of purchase or when they’re using voice search. They are three to four (or more!) words in length and are more specific than common, short-tail searches. These queries are more likely to tell us about the searcher’s intent and they also tend to have very low search volumes.

In contrast, the other types of length-defining keywords are:

  1. Head terms, also known more commonly as ‘short-tail keywords’, typically consist of one or two words. These terms can be quite broad and generally don’t have a very clear user intent.
  2. Body phrases, also known as ‘medium-tail keywords’, are your everyday search queries that contain more words, which start to build a clearer picture of the user’s search intent.

Unlike head terms, long-tail keywords are more likely to result in a conversion thanks to the specific nature of the search. When people search using long-tail keywords, they are typically looking for a particular product or service, which means they’re likely to be further along the purchasing cycle. With less competition for these phrases, they are easier to rank for in search engine results.

The popularity of voice search has influenced the use of long-tail keywords, which have become more prevalent as people tend to use natural, conversational language when speaking. As a result, optimising a website for long-tail keywords can increase visibility and attract more targeted traffic. This ultimately leads to higher conversion rates.

Long-tail keyword examples

Let’s take a closer look at head terms vs long-tail keywords and how they differ. Here are some examples of head terms – they’re short, vague and tend to have very high search volumes with a competitive keyword difficulty:

  • Laptops
  • Running shoes
  • Healthy recipes
  • Digital cameras
  • SEO

Here are some examples of long-tail keywords with a more targeted search intent:

  • How to choose a laptop for college
  • Best running shoes for marathon training
  • Quick healthy recipes for kids
  • Canon digital cameras for beginners
  • What is SEO optimisation

As you can see, these keywords are longer and more specific – they go beyond general topics and further into the specifics of what the user is looking for.

The specific nature of these queries helps businesses target their SEO efforts more effectively, attracting web visitors who are more likely to convert because they’re searching for exactly what the business offers. But this also means they also have lower search volumes.

Why are long-tail keywords important?

Long-tail keywords target specific search queries that people enter into search engines. While these keyword phrases typically have lower search volumes than more generic, short-tail keywords, they also usually have less competition and a higher potential conversion rate. So, when you optimise your site with long-tail keywords, you help search engines match your content to the audience that is most likely to find it relevant and valuable. This can lead to better search engine rankings, more targeted traffic and a higher number of conversions (a visitor completing your desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter).

Let’s take a look in more detail.

Targeting specific queries

People often use very specific phrases when they are nearing conversion. By using these keywords in your SEO strategy, your website has a better chance of ranking in the same searches. For example, when someone types in ‘best waterproof hiking boots for winter’, they have a clear intent. They are not just looking for any type of boots; they want waterproof boots specifically for winter hiking. If your content includes these specific keywords, you will attract people who are very likely to make a purchase (hence the higher conversion rates).

Lower competition

Since long-tail keywords are specific, they tend to have less competition than broader keywords. This can make it easier for your website to rank higher in search engine results for these phrases. For example, broad keywords like ‘boots’ are highly competitive. Less competition with long-tail keywords means that your content has a better chance of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Higher conversion rates

People who find your website through long-tail keywords are more likely to find exactly what they’re looking for. This increases the likelihood that they will ‘convert’ – buy your product or use your service.

Content relevance and quality

Long-tail keywords are typically integrated into high-quality content that provides value to visitors. This content is more likely to rank well, be shared and attract backlinks, all of which will further improve the site’s SEO. When you use long-tail keywords in your content, and that content thoroughly addresses the specifics of those keywords, your content will be more valuable for your visitors. Google and other search engines prioritise delivering high-quality, relevant content to users, so this can positively affect your rankings on search pages.

Voice search compatibility

Voice search is becoming more popular, so long-tail keywords are becoming increasingly important. When people use voice search, they tend to use natural language and complete sentences, which provide more information than they might type into a search engine. Having content optimised for these long phrases can help your website appear in the results of voice searches.

Semantic search considerations

Search engines have become much better at understanding semantic search, which is the intent behind search queries. This means they consider the context of the keywords instead of just the words themselves (such as your search history, global search patterns, and other data). Long-tail keywords, because of their specificity, fit well within this context-based SEO approach.

How to find the right long-tail keywords

Identifying the right long-tail keywords might take some time, but it’s an investment that can substantially improve your SEO. Here’s how to do it:

1. Use a reliable keyword tool

Search for any head term that defines your target audience in a keyword tool, like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer or SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool. This will allow you to filter the keywords by word count, revealing the long-tail keywords associated with your topic.

When you’re determining which long-tail keywords to target, look at the search volume and the keyword difficulty, especially if your website does not currently have a high domain authority. This will enable you to target the long-tail keywords with a decent search volume and low competitiveness, giving you more of an opportunity to rank.

Don’t forget to check out the questions, too, as a lot of long-tail search queries are phrased as questions. The ‘People also ask’ section of Google’s search results can also give you a good insight into common search questions and help steer your content strategy.

2. Analyse the keywords your competitors are ranking for

Another great way of finding long-tail keywords to target is to check out the keywords your competitors are ranking for. All you have to do is take your competitor’s website and input it into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer or SEMrush’s Domain Overview. This will generate an organic keyword report that will allow you to identify both the short-tail and long-tail keywords that bring traffic to their site.

Repeat this process for 5 to 10 competitors and you will have enough keywords to steer your SEO strategy.

3. See what people are asking on forums

People often turn to online forums and communities, such as Quora or Reddit, to ask questions or discuss niche topics. These discussions are great sources for finding long-tail keywords.

Search these platforms for topics related to your website and look for recurring themes or specific questions that come up consistently – these can often be turned into long-tail keywords. For example, if you’re in the fitness industry and see a lot of questions like ‘How to lose belly fat without going to the gym’ – this question is a long-tail keyword you could target.

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4. Use Google Trends

This is a useful tool for exploring the popularity of search terms over time. By entering a broad keyword related to your business into Google Trends, you can identify the related long-tail keywords that are gaining popularity.

5. Try Google search features

If you’re still not sure what keywords to target, use Google’s search features for an easy win.

Start typing a broader keyword into Google’s search bar and watch how it automatically suggests ways to finish your search query. These suggestions are based on actual searches and can provide insights into what your target audience is searching for.

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At the bottom of the search results page, Google also provides a list of related searches. These can help you understand variations of your broad keyword and help you discover long-tail variations.

How to incorporate long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy

Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO. However, it’s equally important to know how to use it in the best possible way. It serves as the basis for your strategy, giving you insights into what your target audience is looking for. So, how can you integrate long-tail keywords effectively?

Consider the search intent

Simply adding your keyword to your page isn’t enough to rank. You need to satisfy your visitors’ search intent, which means giving them exactly what they want.

When it comes to search intent, long-tail keywords fall into one of four categories:

  • Commercial intent – People who are researching before making a purchasing decision.
  • Informational intent – People who are looking for information on a specific topic.
  • Navigational intent – People who are searching for a specific website or webpage.
  • Transactional intent – People who are looking to make a purchase or convert.

The type of search intent will determine what kind of content you should create for the user. For example, if your long-tail keyword has informational intent, then you probably need to create a blog post on the subject. However, if the intent is transactional, then you’re better off creating product pages or service descriptions that promote your offerings.

Strategically place your keywords

Keyword placement is vital to your SEO strategy, especially when it comes to long-tail keywords. So, where should you use them?

  1. Title tag – Your title tag is one of the first things that both website visitors and search engines will see. Make sure your title is engaging and descriptive.
  2. Meta description – While it’s not a direct ranking factor, an engaging meta description that includes your long-tail keyword can improve the click-through rate of your search results.
  3. Headings (H1, H2, H3 etc.) – Search engines give more weight to keywords when they are featured in headings than when they are in the body text. Use your long-tail keyword in at least one heading to help to show search engines what your content is about.
  4. The first 100 words – Try to use your long-tail keyword naturally within the first 100 words of your content. This helps to reaffirm the topic of your content to search engines.
  5. Body content – Use your keyword naturally throughout your content. However, avoid keyword stuffing as this can harm rather than help your SEO efforts. Long-tail keywords can sometimes be a little clunky, so make sure you’re not forcing them into the content to the point where they disrupt the flow of your copy.

Optimise for long-tail keywords

Keyword research and competitor analysis are key to a successful SEO strategy – and long-tail keywords are particularly useful for new or less authoritative sites. So, if you’ve had trouble ranking for your target keywords, they might be too competitive. In this case, shifting your focus to long-tail keywords could be a good move.

Consider integrating them into high-quality content that provides value to your target audience. As you build out your content and establish your site as a valuable resource, you can gradually start to target more competitive terms.

Create topic clusters

Topic clusters are a great way of organising content around one central topic, with related subtopics branching out from it. This can be an effective way to incorporate long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy, as it helps search engines to understand the relationship between different pieces of content on your website.

Create a pillar page, or a long-form piece of content, around this topic that broadly covers it. Link out to cluster content (individual blog posts or pages) that look at the subtopics in more detail.

Each subtopic should be a piece of content based on long-tail keywords related to your core topic. For instance, if your core topic is ‘digital marketing,’ your subtopics might be ‘content marketing strategies’, ‘social media advertising tips’ or ‘email marketing best practices’.

Your pillar content should link to each of these subtopic pages and vice versa. This interlinking helps people navigate your site more effectively, providing them with more detailed information on the topics they’re interested in. It also increases the time visitors spend on your site, which is a positive signal for search engines.

Remember to keep all the content in a topic cluster updated and relevant. If you add new content to a cluster, link it to the main pillar page and other relevant subtopic pages.

Final thoughts…

The potential of long-tail keywords in your SEO strategy shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly for newer or less authoritative websites looking to establish a stronger online presence.

If you’re struggling to rank for broader, highly competitive keywords, pivoting to focus on long-tail keywords can be a game-changer. These keywords can often provide a more accessible entry point into search engine rankings by helping you address what people are searching for. This can boost user engagement and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Remember to consistently monitor and adjust your strategy based on your long-tail keywords’ performance – this is key to driving your SEO success.