Targeting long-tail keywords is an important search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and involves finding keyword combinations consisting of three or more words that are focused, less competitive, and which should drive high-conversion traffic to your website. By high-conversion traffic, we mean visitors who end up converting into customers, especially when the search query includes an intent to buy. According to [9], long tail keyword queries account for ~ 70% of the search traffic.

According to [8], “[c]onventional thinking applies the 80-20 rule that the top terms provide 80% of the business, but in evaluating multiple sites, this has proved to be the opposite”.

Focusing on long tail keywords can act as an excellent complement to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns since the competition for long-tail keywords is often lower and the cost, being free-per-click, is certainly compelling.

Long-tail keyword formula for improved page ranking

The following simple formula should help pages rank better over time:

Well written and interesting content + judicious use of long-tail keywords including intent to purchase = increased high-conversion traffic over time.

Place long-tail keywords in the page title, meta description, headline, and first paragraph; consider also placing long-tail keywords in image descriptions. Write naturally and do not over-use or stuff long-tail keywords.

A Long-tail keyword example

If we search for the following: malpractice lawyers plastic surgery we can see in the image below that the first four results are ads and the fifth result is an organic search result — this is great for the Cochran Firm as this business is on the first page results and they’re not paying for advertising to get here.

An example of a long-tail keyword combination Google search query along with red arrows pointing to paid ads and a blue arrow pointing to an organic search result.
An example of a long-tail keyword combination Google search query result with red arrows pointing to paid ads and a blue arrow pointing to an organic search result.

In the example below we can see that the Cochran Firm appears as the fifth organic search result on Bing.com (there are ads above this, which are not shown here):

An example of a long tail keyword combination Bing search query result with a blue arrow pointing to an organic search result.
An example of a long-tail keyword combination Bing search query result with red arrows pointing to paid ads and a blue arrow pointing to an organic search result.

Where to find long-tail keyword ideas

The following list includes some sources for discovering long-tail keyword ideas. This is by no means complete so if you have a tool that you like that is not mentioned here, please include it in the comments section.

Discover long-tail keywords with Google

Enter some terms and see what Google suggests — consider using any which appropriately relate to the subject matter.

An example of several long-tail keyword options returned from Google when searching for
An example of several long-tail keyword options returned from Google when searching for “medical malpractice plas…”.

Here’s another variation for acquiring potential long-tail keywords with Google — prefix the query with three spaces to see suggestions that do not start with the search query term.

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Finally, related searches at the bottom of the page shows some possible suggestions for long-tail keywords:

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Find long-tail keyword opportunities with Bing.com

Same as with Google: enter some terms and see what Bing suggests — consider using any which appropriately relate to the subject matter.

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Discover long-tail keywords with the Google Search Console

Google Search Console helps measure your site’s traffic and performance, remedy problems, and ensure that your site shines in Google search results.

Use the Google Search Console to review what queries are already driving traffic and refactor existing text, within reason, and consider long-tail keyword ideas for new articles.

Finding long-tail keyword opportunities on the Google Search Console.

Find long-tail keyword opportunities with YouTube.com

YouTube is the second most popular search engine too, one from which long-tail keyword ideas can be discovered and the following image demonstrates how one can go about learning what people are searching for.

Search YouTube for long-tail keyword opportunities using “Kubernetes CKA exam”.

Discover long-tail keywords with the Moz Keyword Explorer

The Moz Keyword Explorer is an advanced long-tail keyword solution that allows for up to 10 free queries per month but ultimately requires a subscription.

Search Moz.com for long-tail keyword opportunities using “content management systems”.

Find long-tail keyword opportunities with the Ahrefs keywords explorer

The Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is an advanced long-tail keyword solution that is offered on a trial and subscription basis (learn more about the pricing here).

Discover long-tail keywords with KeywordTool.io

KeywordTool.io is an advanced long-tail keyword solution that allows for some free queries but ultimately requires a subscription.

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Searching for the above results in the following:

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Find long-tail keywords opportunities with SEMRush.com

SEMRush is also an advanced long-tail keyword solution that allows for some free queries but ultimately requires a subscription. In the image below, searching for “malpractice lawyers plastic” results in the following:

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The article entitled “ SEO 101: My Favorite Keyword Research Tools” includes other keyword research tools not mentioned here and is worth reading.

Conclusion

If you have tools or strategies for utilizing long-tail keywords, please feel free to share what you used, along with any results achieved.

Also, any tricks of the trade are welcomed additions to this article so please include comments about any secret strategies you can share which result in above-average return-on-investment when it comes to using long-tail keywords.

Feel free to send me an invitation to connect or consider joining my email list.

Requires further research

  • I am curious to learn more about how the data is sourced for the services mentioned in this article. Presumably, these companies do not have access to search engine data directly so, assuming this is correct, how do these businesses know that specific terms have a certain search volume associated with them?

    If you know the answer to this question, please add it in the comments. I’ve not taken any time yet to answer this question myself so if I do figure it out, I’ll update this article.
  • Aside from using the Google Search Console, are there some well-known strategies for determining good long-tail keywords?

Related articles

See also

  1. The Long Tail Theory Gets Challenged, Just Not in Search Query Demand
  2. SEMRush Organic Keyword
  3. The Definition of a Long-Tail Keyword [In Under 100 Words]
  4. Long‐Tail Keywords: The ‘Secret’ to Getting TONS of Search Traffic
  5. Conversions vs. Traffic: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!
  6. How to Find the Right Keywords to Rank #1 on Google | Powerful Keyword Research Tools for SEO (2018)
  7. A Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Long-Tail Keywords Within Blog Posts
  8. Keyword Strategies – The Long Tail
  9. How to Use Long Tail Keywords to Boost PPC Search Traffic
  10. Backlinko Long Tail Keywords
  11. Meet the 7 Most Popular Search Engines in the World

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