The best way to drive organic traffic to your website is to be at the top of Google’s results page. To achieve this, you’ll want to use SEO, and a vastly important part of SEO are keywords. These are phrases that people Google in order to find content catering to their interests. If you use these phrases on your website correctly, you’ll signal to Google that your page is relevant to the user’s search and that Google should serve it up as a useful result. So it might intuitively occur to you to use common and relatively vague phrases in order to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible. However, this would be a mistake. If you want to improve your rankings, you should use long-tail keywords for SEO instead. So what are long-tail keywords, why do they matter, and how should you use them?
What are long-tail keywords?
Keywords are one of the first things you’ll find out about when you start learning about SEO and digital marketing. And yet, many people don’t delve very deep into long-tail keywords specifically and are, therefore, left without this critical knowledge. Simply put, long-tail keywords are more specific and typically longer phrases people might search instead of common keywords with a broader meaning. Phrases like “vegan sulfate-free herbal shampoo” (instead of just “shampoo”), “black antique oak dresser” (instead of just “dresser” or “furniture”), “traditional vegetarian Middle Eastern dishes” (instead of “food” or “Middle Eastern food”) would be examples of long-tail keywords.
The benefits of using long-tail keywords for SEO
Long-tail keywords can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, how many searches do such highly specific terms get? Not that many, and certainly not as much as the common keywords to which they relate. So using a very specific phrase may not get you enough traffic. This can be a serious issue for small businesses and startups that need as much traffic as possible to grow. On the other hand, an SEO strategy that focuses on long-tail keywords has many benefits.
It’s easier to rank for more specific keywords than broad topics
One of the most significant benefits of long-tail keywords is precisely that they have fewer searches. Not as many businesses will be focusing on these phrases, so it will be much easier to rank for them. Instead of competing with thousands of other websites, you’ll only be competing with hundreds, maybe even fewer. Imagine trying to rank for a word like “furniture”. Even with the best web development and marketing, your chances are slim unless you’re already a big brand. That’s not a problem with long-tail keywords – big brands don’t use them, so your competition will be other websites like yours. You’ll find it much easier to climb the rankings then.
More specific searches have higher conversion rates
Long-tail keywords are great for driving sales. Someone searching for a highly specific phrase knows exactly what they want and is likely ready to buy what they need. Think about it – someone who’s searching “candles” may just be looking into options. But someone who’s searching “homemade beeswax scented candles home delivery” is clearly looking to purchase this product. So optimizing for these specific phrases will attract motivated users who are much more likely to convert.
Advertising is cheaper for more specific terms
If you’re running a paid search campaign in addition to optimizing your content, bidding on long-tail keywords won’t cost nearly as much as bidding on common keywords. And since long-tail keywords have higher conversion rates, any investment you make is far more likely to pay off. So basing your AdWords campaign around long-tail keywords is actually a good investment.
Specific keywords are more in line with consumer behavior
Although individual long-tail keywords don’t get a lot of searches, taken together, such keywords make up about 70% of Google’s traffic. Clearly, people are searching for specific phrases. Look at your own last few searches – how many of them, especially those that resulted in a subscription or purchase were for generic terms, and how many were more specific? Specific searches are also more common among voice assistant searches. With more and more people using voice assistants, long-tail keywords are the future.
Search engines prioritize websites with a higher number of pages
Google likes websites with a lot of pages, as they appear more legitimate and relevant. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should randomly create useless pages. Instead, create relevant content, optimize everything from your FAQ page to blog posts, and create content specifically for long-tail keywords. You’ll end up with a more robust website, which Google likes, while also providing relevant content for your users.
When should you use long-tail keywords for SEO?
There are many different SEO strategies you can adopt, but not all of them are right in every situation. Focusing on long-tail keywords may not be the best for you all the time, but it can be a valuable strategy when you’re in a highly competitive field. If you optimize for precise terms, you’ll get better rankings faster. Of course, improvement doesn’t come overnight with any SEO strategy. It takes time for optimization to work and for organic traffic to increase. Even with long-tail keywords, you’ll need to be dedicated to your strategy and give it time before you see any results. But it’ll be significantly less time than you’d need if you wanted to rank for a head keyword – one of those broad terms that get millions of searches every day.
Another good time to use long-tail keywords is when you’re trying to drive sales. Since users who search for specific terms are more likely to convert, targeting them can increase sales quickly. Of course, you’ll be targeting a smaller and more niche audience, but they’ll be far more likely to spend money on your business.
How to make the most of long-tail keywords for SEO?
When you’re running a website, setting it up is just the first step – you still need constant website maintenance. The same can be said about your marketing strategy – it is also a continuous work in progress. Once you’ve decided to focus on long-tail keywords, you’ve taken the first step, but you still need to know how to use them properly. So follow these steps:
- Do your research: this is the most important part – you need to know what works and what doesn’t before you commit
- Create a strategy: set up goals, follow your success rate, and update your strategy as needed
- Choose the right keywords for your brand: you have to find your niche – choose keywords that relate to your business and attract a decent amount of traffic
- Don’t rely on long-tail keywords alone: running a website dedicated to a very niche topic like “1980s hair rock vinyls” can be a hobby, but there simply isn’t a big enough market to turn that into a profitable business, so make sure you’re also trying to rank for head keywords at the same time
If you do it right, using long-tail keywords for SEO can be a very profitable strategy. They’ll attract more traffic and more conversions, which will, in turn, help your website and business grow. As long as you’ve done your research and chosen well, these keywords can be incredibly beneficial.