Long-term keywords have been useful in online marketing for some time now and are only likely to grow in importance as the web gets bigger and more diverse. Understanding how they work and how to find them is a very effective way to bring in more web traffic with less time and effort.
What are long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords are strings of words people use in online searches. Unlike “head” terms, which are used very frequently, long-tail keywords are not used as often. However, they generally have much less competition and are easier to rank for. For example, someone looking for specific information on stain removal from clothing might use the phrase “how to remove grease stains from blue jeans” rather than just head terms to include “stain removal” or “grease stain removal.”
While long-tail keywords are generally longer strings of keywords as the name implies, they can include shorter phrases with fewer searches.
Why long-tail is growing in importance
Increasingly, people are expecting exact and fast answers to their search queries. For example, someone searching for how to remove stains from their jeans is not going to want to have to look through more general info on stain removal to get what they need. This is especially true for those using smaller screens and voice recognition. They want to be able to speak an entire question into their phone and find a quick answer.
To meet this demand, Google and other search engines are going to find ways to increasingly make long tail a part of their algorithms.
The advantages of long-tail keywords for marketers
As they do not have nearly as much competition, long-tail phrases can give even a new site a chance to rank. In addition, as those using long-tail keywords in their searches have made their intent clear, it is much easier to give them the content they want. This is especially important when buying PPC advertising as:
- Those clicking on the links will be much more likely to become paying customers.
- Long-tail keywords usually have much lower bids.
Exact and broad phrase match
Exact and broad phrase match resembles long tail and head terms in some ways and also should be understood. Keyword research tools will usually give both broad and exact phrase matches. Broad match in web searches are those results returned when people search by more general words and shorter phrases. They also can be seen when search engines deliver results based more on what sites are popular than what the exact phrase searched for was.
Exact phrase match occurs when search engines deliver homepages with phrases that exactly match what the person searching typed in. This is important for two reasons:
- The traffic from exact searches is more targeted. Thus, the person searching is likely to stay on the site for longer and utilize its services.
- It is much easier to rank higher in the search engines for these long-term keywords than more broad searches.
Finding long-tail keywords
In addition to using keyword research tools, there are a number of effective ways to uncover long-tail keywords to include the following:
Use Google Suggest and Ubersuggest:
Type in the head keyword phrase into your Google search box and see what longer phrases are suggested.
For the same information in a form that can be easily downloaded, use free Ubersuggest.
Look at your Analytics data: Seeing how visitors are coming to your site can be even useful. As everyone using Google Analytics should know, it gives data on what keywords people type to find your site. Often, you will find people coming to your site for long-tails you have not even optimized for. Targeting these and related keyword phrases is a great way to find both what your visitors want and what you can most easily rank for.
New sites and long-tail keywords
Newer and smaller sites usually have little chance of getting traffic from broad match search results. These results heavily favor established sites with a lot of content, links and traffic. However, it is a much different story with long-tail keywords and exact phrase matches. When a site is optimized for these keyword phrases and has links containing them in anchor text, it has a good chance of outranking much more established sites in those exact match searches.
There are a much greater number of broad match searches and results than exact match. However, exact match can still provide good traffic depending on the keywords. Therefore, the best strategy usually centers on first concentrating on the long-tail keywords. In time, as the site becomes more established with more links, content, traffic and page rank, it will start to receive more of the broad match traffic too.
Organize and categorize
Even when a site is new and only has a few pages, it is important to have a plan for how it will be organized in the future when it has more content. With the intended keywords and goal in mind, organize the future content into categories. This process, known as siloing, is important for both the user experience and for search engine optimization. Websites need to be laid out and organized so that search engines and visitors know what they are about and can navigate them quickly.
The user experience
For any site to become popular, it has to deliver value to the users. It is unlikely a site based entirely on long-tail keywords can do this very effectively. For this reason, and to make building the site more interesting, it is advisable to create at least some content based around what is useful and informative in the niche and not necessarily with any keywords in mind. This kind of content will help bring users back and bring in the natural linking that is so important for a site to really move up in search engine rankings.
Long-tail keywords, broad and exact matches as well as the user experience all come together for a successful website. Be sure to understand them thoroughly before building a site.