Long Tail Keywords: Leveraging Search Intent

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager & Roxanne Simonnet, Digital Media Specialist

Published: March 12, 2018

Are you looking to improve your digital marketing efforts? Try searching “digital marketing” in your search engine of choice. Did you find what you were looking for? Probably not. Now try searching “ways to improve digital marketing efforts”. These results were probably a lot more helpful. That is the difference between short tail and long tail keywords.

Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords

When most people think of search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword optimization, they think of short tail keywords, or “head” keywords. The most popular are very general and are likely to be highly competitive and more difficult to rank for organically. Examples include “marketing” or “party shoes.”

In contrast, long tail keywords are a string of three to five words, or a short phrase or sentence. They are more targeted and descriptive than a short tail keyword. Examples include “marketing trends in 2018” or “stores that sell party shoes.” Because of their more specific nature, these key phrases often have a lower monthly search volume, making them less competitive and easier to rank for organically. While it may seem as though the limited search volume and high precision of long tail keywords would make them less valuable for search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, this could not be further from the truth.

Drive Conversion with Long Tail Keywords

If you aren’t thinking about long tail keywords when you think about SEO, you’re likely missing out on major opportunities to capture valuable internet users. In fact, long tail keywords account for as much as 70 percent of monthly page views across the internet. With the increasing popularity of voice search, this will not change anytime soon.

The benefit of long tail keywords is that they serve the searcher’s intent. For example, when the keyword “photography” is searched, the results are endless. However, the results may or may not be relevant because the searcher could be looking for photography equipment, photography tips or a number of other related needs. When “how to improve at landscape photography” is searched, it is clear that the searcher is looking for advice on how to improve their photography skills and the search results are more likely to contain content that is valuable to the searcher. If this content is then tied to product or service recommendations, it can lead to a conversion.

Keywords that are more specific and are more transparent about intent, often lead to conversions. In fact, they lead to a conversion two and a half times more frequently than a normal keyword. When someone enters a long tail keyword, they have a distinct problem that needs solving and are willing to complete an action in that moment to solve it.

Long Story Short

Long tail keywords have value. They may not cater to a high volume of people, but they cater to a more specific pool of people, which can be more valuable. This can allow your business to capture a niche audience with specific pain points that your products and/or services can address. If you know your business well and choose keywords that match your offerings and competitive advantages, then they can be very beneficial.

Plus, optimizing for long tail keywords can help improve your website’s rankings in other ways. Improving upon long tail keyword rankings can simultaneously improve ranking for related short tail keywords. Considering long tail keywords when crafting content can also improve the relevancy of your website, which is factored in by search engines when determining site rank.

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