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How to Use SEO Long Tail Keywords

How to Choose SEO Long Tail Keywords

Steve Eveleigh

SEO long tail is a must for anyone looking to increase online traffic. It allows you to increase the visibility of your online content to exactly the people actively searching for what you have to offer. It is a particularly important tool for businesses offering niche products or services and looking to break into a competitive market.

SEO long tail is a technique whereby you mimic, in your titles and web copy, the phrases that you believe people will use when searching for your content. In part, search engines calculate the relevance of your webpage to any given search based on those similarities.

Keywords aren’t the only factor impacting search rankings. Past traffic and activity, links (internal and external), shares, likes and comments are all important. However, keywords are something over which you have direct control. Properly selected keywords can make a huge difference.

SEO long tail is differentiated from SEO short tail by the length, obscurity and relevance of the keyword phrases. They are both keyword strategies. However, long tail implies keywords focused on a very particular target market audience with the aim of improving ranking through the narrowing of competition.

SEO long tail generates its value from the intersection of obscurity and relevance. Obscure terms generally lack competition for ranking. They will also generate low traffic results. But, if they are hyper-relevant to you, they will prime your website to rank in the very searches being made by the people you are most interested in attracting — your target market audience. Picking the right phrases takes a little bit of work, but can really pay off.

This is a guide on how to go about choosing the right SEO long tail keywords.  

An Example of SEO Long Tail Keywords

To understand what we are talking about, take this example. You are a B2B business that sells internet as a service in London. In that case, you will likely never beat out the main carriers for search terms like ‘WiFi’, ‘buy WiFi’, or ‘cloud computing’. These are short tail keywords.

‘Internet business services in London’ or ‘purchase IaaS support [in London]’ would be long tail phrases that are much more achievable targets for first or second-page ranking on Google. They are also search terms only likely to be used by people actually looking for what you have to offer. This is not true of people typing ‘WiFi’ into Google. It is a low traffic strategy, but one that will generate a higher click-through-rate and more sales conversions.

The Basics of How to Choose SEO Long Tail Keywords

The basics technique for choosing SEO long tail keywords is to think like your customer. You need to understand what you offer, and how your target market audience is likely to search for it. Simply start with thinking about how you would search for the topic. Think about how you would do so at variable levels of expertise. Think about question and statement variations on the theme.

Next, trial Google search. Type your different phrases into Google and take note of your competition. Are the companies and related blogs of similar size to you? Can you see how many likes, shares, or comments exist on the top ranked sites?

Looking to see if the top results are actually related to you also provides a great sense check of the validity of your long tail keyword phrase. You want to look for results that are relevant but are not dominated by players that could obviously outspend you on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or websites with traffic volumes that dwarf yours.

  • Think like your customer — think about how you would search for your product, services or content.
  • How does one’s level of expertise impact how they would search for your business?
  • Type ideas into Google to check out competition and sense check relevance.

A Scientific Approach to Choosing SEO Keywords

Simply thinking about your target market audience, doing a few Google searches and baking the best phrases into your titles and text will get you most of the way there. But, there are ways to make this more complicated.

Starting With the Short Tail of SEO

If really stuck for ideas, think about short tail words first. These are the more generic and high volume search terms related to your topic. There are metric based tools that provide you with information on common phrases used to search for different subjects. Google Trends is a free option. Paid services such as Yoast can help you identify keywords and evaluate your writing to make sure that it is optimised for effect. These tools can also help you with long tail phrases you have already developed.

As a side note, Google AdWords offers a tool for honing search results. However, this will intentionally steer you away from long tail terms. This is particularly important to remember if trying to use a long tail strategy for PPC ads.  

Once you have identified short tail keywords, type them into Google and look at the ‘suggested searches’ and ‘related searches’. This will give you examples of more specific phrases used by people also searching for your short tail word(s). If you want to be thorough, you can do the same thing with Bing or Yahoo.

Then return to Google Trends or Yoast with your long tail phrase. Simply continue the cycle until you have a set of long tail keyword phrases that seem good.  

  • Start with short tail words and look for long tail ideas in suggested searches and related searches on Google.
  • Use metric based tools like Google Trends or Yoast.

Experiment with Different and Diverse SEO Long Tail Phrases

The pitfall of long tail SEO comes out of its strength — it is hyper-specific. If you choose the wrong phrase, you might not pull in any traffic. Even well-crafted long tail phrases are likely to miss opportunities.

One thing to keep in mind are long tail phrases that have short tail characteristics. For example, the long tail phrase for this blog post is its title: ‘how to choose SEO long tail keywords’. Within that, however, there are the short tail keywords ‘SEO’, ‘long tail’ and ‘keywords.’

This isn’t the most unique phrase, however it is broad and specific at the same time. That is useful.

Another workaround for the pitfall of missed opportunities and poorly calibrated long tail phrases is to simply post a lot of things. This is also important to a general SEO strategy. ‘Active’ websites with regular posts and updates score higher in search engine algorithms.

Blog posts, landing pages, social media activity and headlines (all optimised for different SEO long tail keywords) allow you to deploy multiple SEO long tail phrases targeted at different personas within your target market audience. It also allows you to experiment with multiple iterations on the same idea to see what works best.

Content marketing, particularly, is critical to a comprehensive SEO strategy. Blogs, for example, are much more likely to drive traffic and generate shares, comments, likes and links than a standard webpage. These are all important to SEO ranking.

  • Develop SEO long tail phrases with SEO short tail elements baked in.
  • Use blogs, dedicated landing pages and social media activity to create different pages with different SEO long tail keywords.

Analysing Your SEO Long Tail Efforts

Looking at trends and search suggestions is a helpful way to get started. The thing to do, however, if you want to hone your results, is to analyse what you have already done. Nothing else will give you the same level of specificity about your business and target market audience.

This is why blogs, and/or an otherwise expansive web presence, is helpful to a long tail SEO strategy. The more pages you have, the more opportunities available to trial SEO long tail keyword phrases.

You can look at the search traffic results for different web pages, pay-per-click campaigns, your social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) and any other form of online activity. You are particularly interested in clicks and position.

Download that information and plug it into a spreadsheet. Being able to sort through those numbers and see what is working and what hasn’t can allow you to continue to refine your phrases and make more content based around keywords that work.

Organising The Results of Your Chosen SEO Long Tail Keywords

If taking SEO long tail seriously, you will develop a list of keywords that will grow and change over time. You should make an initial list based on your intuitions about your customers. Then refine that list through experimentation, analysis, and the use of tools like Google Trends. At a minimum, trial Google search the phrases once every few months.

It is probably best to break down your list of keywords based on intent. This will make it easier to think about natural places to place those long tail phrases.

For example, that same B2B internet provider discussed above could design a list that looked like:

Intent to Purchasethese phrases all signal an intention to buy infrastructure-as-a-service

  • ‘Internet business services in London’
  • ‘Purchase IaaS support in London’
  • ‘Budget IaaS services’        

Intent to Learn - these phrases all signal a desire to learn about IaaS

  • ‘How IaaS drives revenue gains’                                            
  • ‘Do SMEs need IaaS?’                              
  • ‘Benefits of outsourcing internet support’        

Summary: Choosing SEO Long Tail Keywords Can Be Hard, You Don’t Have to Choose Just One

Getting the right SEO long tail phrase is worth the investment. An appropriately executed SEO long tail strategy can get you in front of the exact people looking for your products, services or content.

It is a low-volume/high-relevance strategy that takes planning and maintenance. Much of your success will come down to understanding your target market audience and choosing the right keywords and phrases. Think about how you would search for your product, service or content. Do a trial Google search and look at your competition for different phrases.  

The easiest way to avoid over-investing on a poorly calibrated long tail phrase is to build a large web presence.  Luckily, this is advisable to do anyway if taking SEO seriously. This can be achieved through dedicated landing pages. However, the best way to do this is through a content marketing campaign. What that generally means is starting a blog.

If your business has a specialism, that just means writing about that. If you can provide genuinely valuable information to potential customers, that will be beneficial for a host of reasons. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise, it drives traffic and sustains an ‘active’ website.

Websites with lots of internal activity will rank higher in search results with or without a keyword strategy. However, specifically for the use of long tail keywords, blog posts provide a great medium in which to trial different phrases. Every page provides an entry point to your main network — only some of them have to work!

Trialing all of those different phrases also gives you the opportunity to track metrics and see what actually works best for your target market audience. The most relevant information to your business or content comes from looking at your own results. Once you have a list of potential ideas, you can start to narrow it down. Then use your real life results to continually improve outcomes.

How to Choose SEO Long Tail Keywords

Originally published on 19/07/18 09:03

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