Long Tail Keywords 101

Written by Kara Burns

Long tail keywords are essential to SEO and, when properly implemented, can help you connect with your target audience. These highly specific phrases indicate that the searcher may be close to  making a purchase, which is the ideal time to connect with him / her.

In this blog post, we dive into the ins and outs of long tail keywords and explain why you should start incorporating them into your SEO strategy — immediately.

What is the difference between a short tail and long tail keyword?

Generally speaking, the long tail SEO keywords are much more specific in nature than their short tail counterparts. Some of key differences between the two keyword types include:

  • Short tail searches contain 3 keywords, or fewer
  • Long tail searches contain 4+ keywords
  • Short tail keywords are often highly searched and fiercely competitive, and which typically translates to higher costs and lower conversion rates
  • Long tail keywords, on the other hand, are often searched at a lower frequency, which usually means less competition, lower costs, and higher conversion rates


A few examples of short tail versus long tail keywords include:

  • Roses vs. long stem red roses
  • Blue car vs. four-door BMW in blue
  • Curtains vs. floor-length white linen curtains

What are the benefits of targeting long tail keywords?

A few of the main benefits to targeting long tail keywords include:

  • Less difficult to rank for than short tail keywords
  • Less competition
  • Lower overall cost
  • Rankings can be achieved in less time
  • When it comes to website traffic, they produce quality versus quantity

How to find the best long tail keywords for your business

In order to drive qualified traffic to your website, it’s important to understand which long tail keywords are right for your business. This is crucial to your success, as optimizing your website and / or blog content for the wrong keywords may not yield the ROI you're looking for.

Start by analyzing the keywords currently driving traffic to your website. That information can typically be found in Google Analytics and / or your Google Webmaster Tools account. You may be surprised by what you find, as the keywords and phrases prospective customers use to search for the products or services you offer are probably very different than they keywords you would use to execute the same search. That's part of the challenge!

From there, go to Google and execute a variety of similar searches to find out which keywords and phrases your competitors rank highly for on a consistent basis. You can also utilize keyword research tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool or Word Stream. The goal is to identify searches that are highly relevant to your business and, although they may not be heavily searched, have lower competition, which means your probability of ranking for them is higher.

How to use long tail keywords

Once you have identified the long tail keywords you feel will be most beneficial to your business, you can start by optimizing your website content for those keywords. From there, you can also start creating new, optimized content for your website — in the form of new pages, blogs, etc.

After all, the more optimized pages you have, the more chances you have to be found!