Posted on May 01, 2018
Understanding what long tail keywords are and when to use them can really impact your Search Engine Optimisation efforts.
When we are trying to choose which keyword to target on a specific page or post, its Search Volume (the average number of times users have searched for that given keyword per month) is a very important value to take into consideration. Yet, what I’ve often seen happening over the years is that people tend to focus only on search volume, forgetting other factors which are just as important. This is what I’d like to highlight in this article.
In order to achieve your website’s best performances, your goal shouldn’t be just getting visitors to it. You should aim to get the right kind of visitors.
Targeting keywords with thousands of searches can be exciting. But remember that popular search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in the so-called long tail keywords. This percentage contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, all together, represent the majority of the world’s search volume.
Search volumes need a bit of consistency in order to be statistically relevant. Stats do not pick up some of the keywords that are searched for because they are too low in numbers – they are slightly different or present individual variations. But these searches do happen. A lot. They’re the ones that happen the most, in fact.
When we consider the increase in voice search and virtual assistants (like Alexa, Siri, etc), search terms can appear more fragmented and different. People speak more clearly and with longer expressions, which are not considered as relevant, at least not individually. But these ‘longtail keywords’ end up being the majority of search, as it’s natural and logical.
What are the advantages of longtail keywords’?
Evidence also shows that long tail keywords generally convert better because they catch people later in the buying/conversion cycle.
A very simple example is this – the keyword “shoes“. A person searching for it is probably browsing, searching for inspiration. They might want to see the latest trend but not be ready to buy yet. They might want to learn about the history of shoes, have special requirements or specific taste.
That search term is just so generic! That’s why the search volume for that keyword is massive and the search intent is not very well defined.
The more we add elements to the term, getting to “white shoes” > “white leather tennis shoes” > “white leather tennis shoes [Brand]” > “white woman leather tennis shoes“, the more the visitor is further down in the conversion funnel, and at some point they might even get to, for example, “best price [model] [brand] size 11”. At this point the visitor has practically taken their credit card out of their wallet, next to the mouse, ready for purchase!
The volume of traffic will get narrower and narrower as we get further. Yet, if you had an e-commerce website selling those shoes, which ones would you rather rank for?
User experience is critical for SEO.
General keywords usually have a higher search volume than more specific ones, which detail more information. The more general ones could be used as overall category keywords, for example. People need to easily and clearly find the keyword their search intent is for because, if they don’t, the result will give you a higher bounce rate, which is something we want to avoid, being a bad signal of User Experience, and so something that damages your potential ranking.
Users might search a broader keyword, like “white shoes” for different search intents, too. These could have nothing to do with tennis shoes (like “wedding shoes“, for example). Finding your site, in these cases, would be useless for those users. They would bounce back, or even worse, have the so-called “pogo-stick” user behaviour. This happens when Users bounce back to Google and then move on to a competitor’s site from it. These are bad signals that Google does not appreciate.
Another factor to keep into account is the Keyword Difficulty value of each keyword. For each keyword you’d like to target, you should ask yourselves “what are my chances of success?”. We shouldn’t just consider the demand for a given phrase, but also the work that’s required to achieve high rankings.
The optimisation effort should also consider:
- The number of high-quality backlinks you should be piling up.
- (And, connected to this), the time that the uphill battle for rankings could take, before giving valuable results.
A long-tail keyword might include the shorter tail, too. This is another possible advantage of it, in case the shorter tail keyword has valuable search volume. You could consider the shorter ones as subsets of the long tail keywords. They are included semantically. We will soon be sharing more information about semantic search, and the way search engines seek to improve search accuracy by understanding the search intent through contextual meaning, concept matching, synonyms, etc.
Generally speaking, you should strategically choose a keyword that:
- Is as focused as possible.
- Still has relevant search volume.
- And doesn’t have very high Keyword Difficulty.
You can have unlimited Keyword Searches in our SEO Campaigns and Membership Plans. We will also help you to strategically choose which keywords are best for your goals. Our training sessions will help you understand what long tail keywords are and answer any other SEO doubts you may have.
Please, let us know in the comments or on Social Media if this article was clear enough. Our aim is to provide information about SEO in a very understandable way. We try to avoid jargon and technical, complex terms as much as possible.
Please, let us know if this was useful to you, and how you generally choose your keywords.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask – we’re always glad to help!