Do you understand how important it is to rank well on the Google search engine results pages (SERPs)?
These compelling stats prove why you have to rank high on the SERPs:
• Nineteen percent of online purchases start with Google searches.
• Brand awareness improves by 46 percent if you show up in mobile search ads.
• Click-through rates increase by 30.8 percent if you move up one spot on the SERPs.
What does this mean for you?
Topping the SERPs can lead to better sales, engagement and brand awareness — a dream come true for web-savvy brands. But achieving these goals isn’t easy, especially if you target short, high-volume keywords. These keywords are not only fraught with competition, but also costly to bid for.
If you target long-tail keywords, on the other hand, you can attract high-intent searchers more easily and at a lower cost to you. Sound interesting? Great, read on to learn why long-tail keywords matter to online brands and how to use them to drive website traffic.
Long-tail keywords (made up of three or more words) more closely resemble the search queries that people type in Google. They are precise but unpopular, meaning they generate fewer searches than their shorter counterparts. Then why should you target them at all?
Because long-tail keywords convert very well. Being long and detailed, they match user intent quite precisely. As a result, they attract more clicks and drive more traffic.
I published a post on Instagram spaces and it’s ranking well on Google. Below, I’ve compared the engagement and position that different head-term (Instagram space) variants are getting.
As you can see, the long-tail keyword (“how to space out Instagram captions”) scores more clicks and ranks my page higher than the corresponding shorter version (“Instagram space”).
Still not convinced?
Then, check out these data-backed points in favor of long-tail keywords.
Shorter keywords are popular among marketers, so they have high competition. Long-tail keywords (located on the tail of the graph below, hence the name “long-tail”) are less sought after.
Image via Instapage
Lower competition means more ranking opportunities for you. That’s why Google Ads containing long-tail keywords earn more impressions.
To verify the claim, I checked the keyword difficulty (KD) scores of long and short semantically-similar keywords (LSI). Here are the results:
Image via SEMrush
Evidently, as the keyword gets longer, the KD reduces.
That’s why brands that rely on search advertising should take advantage of longer keywords and beat the competition.
Longer keywords generate high-quality traffic that is closer to conversion.
Short keywords are broad terms that don’t reveal much about the searcher’s intent. In fact, the searcher may not be sure about their intent. Are they looking for information, navigation help, or to make a purchase? Engaging and converting these ambiguous leads can be challenging.
On the other hand, longer queries are used by people who are sure of their intent. These searchers are already in the advanced stages of their buyer journeys. If you build your marketing blueprint around long-tailed keywords, you can efficiently engage these high-potential consumers.
Now, we come to the best part about long-tail keywords.
Longer keywords have a lower cost-per-click (CPC) than their shorter peers. Even small brands can afford paid advertising by using these keywords. To back up my claim, let me draw on some data. Refer to the CPC comparison from the previous example:
The CPC for the longest keyword (“how to lose weight fast”) is the lowest.
Get my point?
What I mean to say is that longer keywords can help you nail organic as well as paid marketing.
As you can see, leveraging long-tail keywords is an effective growth-hacking strategy in digital marketing. But stuffing them into your content or targeting them without a solid strategy won’t produce the desired website traffic.
Then what should you do?
First of all, you need to find long-tail keywords relevant to your niche, content and audience. There are many ways to do this.
• Google Search: Start typing a relevant broad keyword in the Google search bar and pick one of the longer auto-complete suggestions that appear.
You can also select keywords from the “Related searches” and “People also ask” sections on the page.
These are more specific but less popular keywords that you can target.
• Keyword Research Tools: Google searches can get tedious, especially with large keyword volumes. Instead, you can use keyword research tools like the Google Keyword Planner or a comparable platform, such as SEMrush.
Just key in the seed keyword and apply filters like location, volume, and match-type. You’ll get a list of keywords with their search volume, KD and CPC for you to compare.
Sort the results (low to high) and pick the super-specific long keywords at the top of the sorted list.
Most tools will also let you narrow down your search by suggesting relevant keyword categories. In the above example, “best social media tools” was my broad keyword. To refine the results, I selected an additional keyword term “analytics” to get a list of keywords for analytics-based social media tools.
Is that all?
One more trick….
Many people type questions in Google when they are looking for information. To drill down into those exact keywords, look for a keyword tool with a “Questions” filter.
• Competitor Research: You can also find the long-tail keywords that your competitors are targeting. Tools like Ahrefs produce keyword reports by domain names.
Image via Ahrefs
You can overtake your competitors by reverse-engineering their keyword strategy.
How can you do that?
It’s simple. Find out which organic and paid pages are getting traction. Then, draw reports for the keywords that each page is targeting. Out of these keywords, identify the low-volume ones and incorporate them into your content.
• Online Consumer Forums: Look at the conversation threads of your consumers on platforms like Reddit and Quora. Set up alerts for high-potential prospects.
Carefully observe how they talk and what language they use. What are their aspirations and needs? If you can get inside your target consumers’ heads, you will be able to find better long-tail keywords. There, you have a ready-to-use list of long-tail keywords to target.
Now, we come to the actual task of attracting traffic with our curated long-tail keywords. However, all keywords can’t be targeted with the same approach.
Let me expand on that. Each search topic has its own “search demand curve,” based on which we can categorize long-tail keywords into two groups, “topical” and “supporting.” Your targeting will vary for each group.
Topical keywords include a unique topic of their own. If you run them through Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, you’ll note that their “Parent Topic” is the same. I did this for “keyword cannibalization.”
If you can’t access this tool, check all the top-ranking pages for this keyword and you will note they all contain the key term in the titles.
How can you drive website traffic using such topical keywords?
Answer: Create a unique page for each keyword. Sure, it’s going to be hard work, but easier than trying to rank for vague but popular keywords. Another smart way is to use modifiers to get even more granular in your targeting.
For example, “black shoes” has a high KD, but when you change it to “black shoes with khaki pants,” the KD comes down to two.
Beating these two competitors is easy. You don’t even need to write long, detailed content. Just a simple keyword-rich content piece can do the job.
There is no use in creating separate pages to target these long-tail keywords. Since Google bunches up results of all similar-sounding queries, your pages will be lost in the crowd.
Target the head term. But first, learn to identify supporting keywords. Run your keyword through Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and check the parent topic.
If it’s different from your keyword, you need to target the parent topic.
• Study the top-ranked pages for the broad keyword.
• Observe how detailed and comprehensive the content is and try to create a better page.
• Front-load the keyword in the page title.
• Naturally include the keyword in the sub-headings, page URL, meta description, page content, and image file names (if any).
I know it’s an uphill battle to rank for broad terms, but the effort will be worth it.
Long-tail keywords have notable benefits, but they are no magic wand. They need to be approached and tackled strategically. The approach and tools I’ve mentioned in this post should give your optimization efforts and website traffic a good push.
Do you need help with any other aspect of SEO? Drop your requests in the comments below.