Whether you are new to SEO or are a seasoned vet, you’ve more than likely come across people referencing “long tail keywords”. In a nut shell, long tail keywords are generally longer and more specific keywords derived from the parent keyword being targeted. These long tail keywords are often formatted as a question or a direct inquiry, and are typically searched by users who are closer to purchasing or acquiring a product or service. Within this article, I am going to expound upon the question, “what are long tail keywords”, show you how to properly identify valuable long tail keywords and review the many benefits that come from targeting and acquiring long tail keywords.
How To Identify Long Tail Keywords
Identifying long tail keywords is a pretty simple task, identifying valuable long tail keywords that can truly benefit your overall SEO campaign can be challenging. When researching long tail keywords, there are 3 main things you need to keep in mind.
- Will the long tail keyword help you rank for the parent keyword you are targeting?
- Can you create unique and informative content based around the long tail keyword?
- Does the long tail keyword attract users looking to purchase your service or product?
By answering those 3 questions, you will have a MUCH easier time identifying valuable long tail keywords to target.
Utilize Data From Google Search Console
Among the litany of SEO tools available, Google Search Console is by far one of the most valuable tools when it comes to optimizing your SEO campaign and identifying valuable long tail keywords. Assuming that you have already setup Google Search Console for your website, you will want to navigate to the “Performance” section on the left-hand side.
By clicking on “Search Results”, you will be directed to a graph displaying data from the last 3 months of clicks, impressions, average CTR and average position. From there, click on (+ New) and select “Page…” within the drop down. When the modal pops up, change the selection from “URLs containing” to “Exact URL” and enter in your URL that most closely refers to the parent keyword you are seeking long tail keywords for.
After the data has been filtered down to the specific URL you have entered, click on the queries tab to show the top search queries for that given page. This will provide you with a gold mine of potential long tail keywords that you could target as they are specific search queries from users who either clicked on your page or who had scrolled through the SERPs and saw your link.
Review Google Suggest
By simply beginning to type in a question formed search query with your parent keyword into Google, you can gain valuable information on the suggestions Google provides based on your entered information. This shouldn’t be your only way of identifying valuable long tail keywords, but it should act as a tool in which you can gain insight into what other searchers may be looking for.
Remember, Google’s job is to predict searcher’s intent and provide the most accurate result based on the given search query. That being said, Google would not recommend the dropdown of potential search queries if users had not previously entered those queries, so this method can be very useful when trying to conjure up inspiration for possible long tail keywords.
Use Questions Listed In Ahrefs
In my previous blog post, I discussed methods that can help you rank higher on Google, one of those referencing the power of utilizing Ahrefs to identify long tail keywords. The advanced functionality of Ahrefs Keyword Explorer can provide you with all the information needed to identify valuable long tail keywords, backed by data showing each individual keyword’s difficulty, monthly search volume, average cost-per-click and more.
There are 3 main sections that are quite valuable when it comes to performing keyword research: “Having Same Terms”, “Questions” and “Also Rank For”. Since we are discussing long tail keywords in particular, let’s focus on the questions section. The questions section can be a highly valuable tool as it provides data on search queries that are directly tied to your parent keyword and can be used to create informational content to attract those specific users. (Figure 1.4 may shed some light on how the title of this article was formed 🙂 )
Browse Through Q&A Sites & Forums
Some of the most valuable insight about common questions or thoughts pertaining to your parent keyword can be obtained straight from the users themselves. Needless to say, not all Q&A sites and forums are credible and trustworthy, which is why this method of long tail keyword identification should be performed after thorough research of the website and/or forum.
At one point in time, Quora was full of individuals asking thought-provoking questions that were typically answered by users who gave factual and informative answers. Fast-forward to 2021 where Quora has become a breeding-ground for ridiculous questions with equally absurd responses. Below are some of the more trustworthy sites to review for long tail keyword ideas.
When it comes to SEO, Reddit can be a very valuable resource in which to obtain insights from other SEOs and users seeking advice on how to perform SEO. To effectively use Reddit for research and avoid all of the self-promoting and link-building spam, it is important to join certain subreddits that have not been taken over by bots and spammers.
Here are some decent subreddits to check out:
Despite the name of the website, BlackHatWorld is pretty useful resource for SEO automations, link gathering and link creation. In terms of performing research for long tail keywords, the White Hat SEO discussion section typically has safe and insightful information.
In relation to SEO and content marketing, one of the Twitter’s main benefits is the ability to share educational and newsworthy information instantly to specific groups or users via hashtags. By following industry leaders and filtering twitter feeds by specific hashtags, you can gain very valuable information and thoughts which can enhance inspiration for content generation and long tail keyword discovery.
What Are The Benefits Of Targeting Long Tail Keywords?
I like to refer to long tail keywords as the “Moneyball” approach to SEO. If you haven’t seen Moneyball (and I highly recommend that you do), it is the story about the 2002 Oakland Athletics and their GM who formed a playoff caliber team with a very limited budget using a data driven approach to selecting and utilizing undervalued players. The comparison I am making is less about the money aspect and more about how to effectively use the data available. In a nutshell, the GM identified players who had particular stats that were above average (on-base %, slugging %, walks, etc,) to create a mathematical formula to winning.
Due to the low monthly search volume long tail keywords generally have (relative to their parent counterparts), they are typically dismissed by most SEOs. This has been proven to be a very costly mistake as there are plenty of benefits that come from targeting long tail keywords.
More Efficient & Effective Way To Rank For Parent Keywords
By correctly identifying and targeting long tail keywords with low keyword difficulty and low search volume, you can boost your overall SEO campaign more effectively and efficiently than just simply targeting the parent keyword itself. Website traffic should be evaluated based on the quality of the traffic, rather than the quantity of traffic. For example, 100 users who are ready to acquire your products or services are far more valuable than 1000 users who are only looking to gather information and move on.
Targeting long tail keywords with low keyword difficulty theoretically means that you should be able to rank for those keywords quickly, thus adding a ranking keyword to your repertoire and freeing up time to target another one.
Figure 2.1 shows that 321 Web Marketing (the organization where I am the Director of Digital Marketing) started ranking for the parent keyword “Organic SEO” on 3/5/19 starting at position #98, but quickly losing visibility until appearing again a year later. On 2/4/21 we finally achieved position #1, nearly 24 months after first appearing. With a keyword difficulty of 48, that is an average to above average time to appear #1 on SERPs, especially with the amount of industry-related competition.
Now in Figure 2.2, you can see that we began ranking for “What Is Organic SEO” on 2/21/19 at position #33, hitting the front page in just over a year and then appearing #1 only 4 months later. On the surface, it may appear that there wasn’t much value in targeting the long tail keyword as it only took roughly 6 additional months to rank #1 for the parent keyword. However, there are a few key points I want to shed light on that should change your mind.
Date The Blog Went Live
By analyzing the date when the long tail keyword first appeared in Figure 2.2 and comparing the date the blog was published in Figure 2.3, you can see that it only took a little over 3 weeks to start ranking for the long tail keyword, “What Is Organic SEO”.
The Page The Parent Keyword Is Ranking On
In addition to ranking for the targeted long tail keyword, this blog also laid the foundation in which the parent keyword first appeared and eventually ranked (and still does!) #1 for. Given the data above, there is a clear correlation between targeting long tail keywords and ranking for parent keywords.
Most Search Queries Are Formed As Long Tail Keywords
Think about your most recent search query on Google and in what format your search was formed. More than likely your query was in a question format, since Google is the go to source for questions like, “How Tall Is Tom Cruise?” (Answer: 5′ 7″). More often than not, Google is used to find answers to questions, which makes long tail keywords incredibly valuable for keyword acquisition, increasing traffic, lead generation and more.
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They Provide The Ability To Provide Additional Context Towards Subject Matter
Generating content based on long tail keywords is an excellent way to provide readers with additional information and context to the related subject or topic. Back in 2013, Google released the Hummingbird algorithm update, which shifted their focus from search results that were either too generic or broad, to results that provided searchers with more context and information.
The more thorough and informative the content is, the higher the probability of ranking for the given long tail keyword becomes.
Creates More Strategic Interlinking Opportunities
Bootstrapping off of the previous section, long tail keywords and the additional context value they produce, also creates more opportunities to perform strategic interlinking throughout your website. Internal links with engaging anchor text can lead to a variety of benefits including: users spending more time on your site, increasing trust with users by providing industry expertise, providing crawlers an easier way to navigate your site and much more.
Stronger Focus On Voice Search Optimization
Voice command technology such as Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, has become incredibly popular over the past few years. As the use of these products continues to grow, so does the value of creating long tail keyword-centric content that is primed for voice search queries. Since long tail keywords can often be in a question-type format, this makes optimizing for voice searches 1,000 times easier.
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