Long Tail Keywords: When to Use Them

We know that content is king, and that we are supposed to be targeting specific keywords when we write it. Earlier this week we walked you through how to use Google AdWords for keyword research; now we want to focus on long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords are those that are more specific to your post. They will attract fewer searches, but those searches will be more likely to get a click, and ultimately convert web traffic into paying clients. But you have to keep in mind that not every post should be a long tail keyword post.


A Word about Headwords

In order to fully understand long tail keywords, we need to break things down a little bit first. When creating a long tail string, we start with a headword, and then we add some descriptors to it.

For example: I want to write a post about backpacking. I love to backpack, and I have a lot of knowledge to share about the activity. But as I do my keyword research, I notice that there are a ton of people that search for backpacking.

Long tail keywords

Simple keywords usually have a lot of searches

That means I’m facing some serious competition from huge and well established sites like backpacker.com. It will take a long time for me to capture any sort of audience using just the headword backpacking. So I need to add descriptors and turn my keyword into a long tail keyword.


Using Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are targeting a more niche market. Instead of trying to compete with the big sites, you try to win over those clients that are searching for a more specific topic.

Going back to our example, we know that we’re competing with a lot of bigger sites with the simple keyword backpacking. So we focus our efforts a little more and search backpacking tips.

Search engine optimization in Billings

Narrowing your keyword target improves your visibility

That’s a lot easier to compete with, and would be a good focus for another post. But let’s refine that a bit further so we can capture an even tighter market. Let’s change that to backpacking in Montana.

Billings SEO

Long Tail Keywords help bring in more readers even with fewer monthly searches

Those results are much easier to compete with. There are just 70 searches per month, most of them are in the spring and summer months, and it targets a group that is more inclined to click on your page than just backpacking in general.

Now there are two issues here. First, if you get any longer in your backpacking keywords, Google doesn’t have enough data to give you a good report. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. If there are no searches for those words, you won’t land any visitors. But if there are 8 per month, you will likely land all 8 of those visitors. The second issue is that “in” is called a “stop word.”


What’s a Stop Word?

Every language has what are called stop words. These words are those that are considered “non-essential” to the understanding of the sentence. For instance, most articles (the, a, an) are stop words and some languages don’t even have them.

For our example above, the word “in” isn’t essential to the search. Google will track “backpacking Montana” the same way it would “backpacking in Montana.” The issue arises that when typing or talking in English nobody would leave out “in.”

So here’s what you do: when targeting a long tail keyword that contains stop words, include them in your target.


Remember to write for the reader and not for Google.

Utilizing Long Tail Keywords

If you have a site about backpacking, you want to use a variety of keywords so that Google knows what your site is all about. You should have great content that targets the simple keyword “backpacking”, and then multiple pages that target variations of that word. So you want to write about backpacking tips, backpacking in Montana, lightweight backpacking, and a host of others. The more specific you can be with your targeting, the better it will be for those searching for your information.

Backpacking isn’t a keyword that many businesses use (unless they are outdoor goods retailers). Instead, replace that simple keyword with one that applies to your business. If you repair cell phones, you would want to target “cell phone repair” and one of your long tail keywords could be “cell phone repair in Billings, Montana”.

Sound like a lot of work? It can be. That is why Sery Content Development is here. We offer keyword research, social media management, and search engine optimization (SEO) in Billings, MT. We have a dedicated team that will put in the time necessary to improve your search engine results.

We help your business get FOUND online.

Call 406-839-7787, fill out our contact form, or email us for more information.

One response to “Long Tail Keywords: When to Use Them”

  1. […] about keywords in the past when you do keyword research, and also talked about the benefits of using long tail keywords instead of focusing on the smaller ones. If you haven’t read those articles, go back and read […]

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