What are Long Tail Keywords and How to Find Them

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the keyword research trenches, you’ve likely heard of the elusive ‘long tail keyword’. These are the phrases that don’t typically have high search volume, but are much more relevant to a specific action. People who search these terms aren’t looking for a wikipedia article, they are looking for specific answers and solutions.

For example, a search for fish tanks might typically be from someone interested in getting a fish at some point, while a search for cleaning fish tank fist time is much more likely to result in a more immediate purchase. Certainly, A pet supply store would be thrilled to rank highly in search for the broader, higher volume term fish tanks. However, the longer keyword possesses the power to bring in new customers as well, and comes with an added benefit; long tail keywords are more likely to convert because the searcher is seeking a solution and if you’re able to provide that in an informative and concise manner, then you’ve truly got their attention.

Long tail keywords actually make up a significant part of overall search. Google estimates that 15% of daily searches are unique, which means no one has ever searched for that exact phrase before. Google is going to match those queries as best it can to what it deems relevant and useful answers. That’s where your content has a chance to shine, capturing those one of a kind searches that are relevant to your niche.

So just how do you discover long tail keywords? Typical keyword research, that often relies on search volumes and cost per click may not be as applicable due to low search volumes and the wider number of possible variations for longer search phrases. In fact, most long tail keywords will have minimal search volumes. Instead, the focus needs to be on choosing the right discussion point for content, and truly understanding the needs and desires of your audience.

There are numerous ways to research long tail keywords, and even paid services that offer long tail keyword suggestions, but here we’ll focus on a few of the easy and free methods…

With Google

  • Right from the search page you can get two helpful suggestions. The first is related searches in the blue text below the search results. The second is auto suggest, which populates relevant trending searches. Both these tools can be leveraged for long tail by plugging in broader, higher volume (and shorter) keyword phrases and exploring the results.My above example long tail for fish tanks was derived in this way via Auto Suggest.

Offline

  • If you have a physical business, think about what sort of questions customers typically ask when they come into the store
  • Look at what items customers frequently purchase together
  • Have customers fill out a survey or comment card

Competitor Research

  • Look for content on competitor sites that has comparatively high sharing levels (likes, tweets, other mentions)
  • Dive down into the search results for popular long tail keywords, and mine the best articles for ideas
  • Gain insight into ideas for blog articles and other content by exploring comment sections (on your own site as well, if applicable) and popular forum threads

Keep in mind the focus is on identifying engaging topics and discussions, rather than on search volumes and purely SEO based value.

Blogs and Resources

Once you know what you should be talking about, and to whom, it’s time to figure out how to apply that to your content. Generally speaking, you’ll want to target long tail keywords through two possible types of content… blog posts and resources.

Targeting long tail keywords through blog posts is fairly self explanatory. Most of the heavy lifting will be done during the brainstorming of the article, and figuring what solutions or information you can offer people who are searching for your chosen term or topic. For example, at Sayenko Design we know that keyword research is an important service for our clients, and that many of them wish to educate themselves more on the subject. We also know that long tail keywords are continually increasing in usage, (in part due to an increase in voice based search), and are a popular topic in keyword research discussions. Hence this blog post 🙂

For keywords with higher value, consider creating a more in depth piece of content that is either very detailed on one aspect, or provides comprehensive explanation/guidance, of a broader topic. While this post briefly covered one aspect of keyword research, a resource would offer a great deal more information. Consider this keyword research guide from Backlinko, which ranks well for numerous keyword research related queries, both broad (keyword research guide) and long tail (keyword research tips 2014). While it took a major investment in content, the increase in search traffic and the boost in branding provides a more than healthy return on that investment.

Whether your company is invested enough in content to take the time to create a resource, or not, the principals of long tail keyword research can still be applied…

  1. Identify the problems and desires inherent to your audience
  2. Provide content that addresses those issues and provides solutions
  3. Compile a useful knowledge base that connects with readers
  4. Seek conversions that come from providing value and demonstrating expertise