Inconspicuous, little search volume – long-tail keywords are often treated a little stepmotherly. In this blog post you will learn how to find the right long-tail keywords, what advantages they have and how to integrate long-tail SEO into your strategy.
What are long-tail keywords?
Longtail keywords are search queries that often have a very low search volume. That is, few people search for these terms in a month. One could conclude that they therefore have no relevance for SEO. But: the opposite is the case.
This distribution of search queries in Moz’s chart shows it clearly. Only one-third of the total traffic of the organic search is reached via search queries with high and medium search volume (short and mid-tail keywords). The supposedly unimportant long-tail keywords, on the other hand, reach 70 percent.
In many cases, a long-tail keyword consists of more than 3 words or even a whole sentence and shows you at first glance what the search intent behind the query is. Short-tail keywords, on the other hand, are much more general, usually very short and represent a higher-level topic. The search intention is not immediately recognizable – the short-tail keyword combines different user needs.
Examples of long-tail keywords
Phrases with 2 or more words as a semantic subcategory on the topic of watercolor:
Watercolor painting with pens beginners – search volume 140
Painting with watercolor pencils templates – search volume 260
negative technique watercolor – search volume 30
Painting animals with watercolor – search volume 20
Are watercolors and watercolor the same? – Search volume 10
Which watercolor paints are the best? – Search volume 70
Why you should consider long-tail SEO
Longtail keywords have some advantages:
Low competition: keywords with low search volume are often (not always!) not so highly contested. This gives you a better chance to get a top ranking with your landing page.
Specific search intent: The search intent is usually clearly recognizable. You quickly know what the user really wants and can fulfill this need.
For example, the search intent behind “Which watercolor paints are the best?” is clear. There are several search needs behind the keyword “watercolor paints”. Evaluating their relevance is much more difficult.
Solid traffic base: Small livestock makes crap, especially if you add up the effect of many small keywords. So 30 long-tail landing pages can bring you more traffic than 3 short-tail pages. Plus: The risk of ranking losses is much lower, because it is spread over 30 URLs – and not only 3.
Higher conversion: The user is already searching very specifically, which means: He already knows exactly what he wants. As a result, he is more likely to make a purchase or submit a form, contributing directly to your revenue.
You strengthen your authority with Google: Through several landing pages on a topic cluster, you show Google that you are an expert in your field.
How to find the right long-tail keywords
To find good long-tail keywords, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target group. What questions do the users have? For which concrete problems are they looking for a solution? And: Can you help them with your products, content or services?
It is best to proceed with the long-tail search according to the funnel principle: Start with a main topic and refine your keyword finds in the second step.
For example: You sell products for hobby artists in your online store and are looking for keywords for your blog section “watercolor paints buy in Etobicoke” – then keywords like “watercolor” or “watercolor painting” are a good start.
The Google Keyword Planner and similar tools give you a first thematic overview of what users are searching for “watercolor painting”.
Check whether and with which content your competitors cover this topic and which long-tail keywords they use.
Use long-tail keyword tools like Google Suggest and AnswerThePublic for specific problems and questions.
In forums and Facebook communities you get inspiration directly from the target group, you should also use these questions and terms for your research.
Use the Google Search Console as a research tool: For which long-tail keywords do you already rank, even if only poorly?
The result of your research – a nice bundle of promising long-tail keywords, for which you now create many landing pages. Wait, no! First you have to make sure what kind of long-tail keywords you are dealing with.
When is it worthwhile to have your own landing page?
Whether it makes sense to have your own landing page for your long-tail keyword depends on how Google evaluates the user’s search intent for your term. The SERPs show you whether Google considers your keyword only as a supplement and refinement of a larger cluster. Or whether it belongs to a larger topic complex – but is self-contained and fulfills a very specific search intent.
a) Supporting long-tail keyword = thematically general content dominates the SERPs.
Example: for the keyword “watercolor painting with pens beginners” (search volume 140), only landing pages that deal with the larger topic rank on the first page: The use of watercolor pencils.
b) Independent long-tail keyword = specific topic aspects dominate the SERPs
Example: For the keyword “watercolor paint animals” (search volume 320), landing pages rank that are very specific and use the keyword in the meta title.
Mixed SERPs: An extra look is in order
The picture in the SERPs is not always clear, both general and specific landing pages can be represented. You should have in mind: A high domain authority gives extra ranking bonus. Then big SEO top domains dominate the top positions of the SERPs with holistic content – and only after that you see domains with more specific landing pages. Here you should look twice: What is the user really looking for?
Holistic landing pages dominate the SERPs
Oh no, was all the research for nothing if only holistic pages rank? No, because you can use the long-tail keywords to optimize existing content or plan new content.
To do this, the first step is to look at the top 10 results for your keyword:
– Which keywords are covered? (Shorttail & Longtail)
– On which positions?
– What can you learn from this for your own landing page?
An example: For the long-tail keyword “watercolor pencils for beginners in Etobicoke” the short-tail keyword in this case is “watercolor pencils”.
In this case, you should target your landing page on the main keyword “watercolor pencils”. Be sure to include the long-tail keywords in your planning. This way you hit the search intent in the best possible way and cover all important aspects of the topic.
The result: You have a holistic landing page whose performance is supported by many long-tail keywords. Even if you don’t reach the top 3 positions with the short-tail keyword due to strong competition, your landing page will be more successful than before.
Small calculation example:
Before: You rank on position 8 with the short-tail keyword, but have only 2 secondary keywords, both rank on position 7.
After your optimization: The ranking of the main keyword does not change – but you rank with another 20 long-tail combinations on position 2 to 4. If each of these combinations generates only 50 clicks per month, you still have 1,000 clicks more in the end.
Don’t forget this wonderful benefit: If your short-tail keyword is ranking higher AND you’ve optimized for long-tail terms, you can enjoy even more traffic and a higher conversion rate.
Specific content dominates the SERPs
If specific content dominates the SERPs for your long-tail keyword, it is worthwhile to have your own landing page. Again, you should check the top 10 results and incorporate your findings into your planning.
Don’t forget: You can always do something better than your competitors!
Check if your long-tail keyword(s) and he short-tail keywords that your competitors are ranking for have the same search intent. Very useful for the comparison is the SERP overlap tool.
Example: A Pinterest board ranks on position 1 for “watercolor painting animals”: You should also research the search intent for the other keywords:
Before you create a new landing page: Make sure you already have content that matches the same search intent. This way you avoid keyword cannibalism. Depending on the results of your analysis, there are several ways to proceed:
#1 Distribute the content on several landing pages.
Example: You notice that your holistic landing page “watercolor painting” ranks for the long-tail keyword “watercolor painting animals”. However, only on position 12, no traffic is generated. Create a separate landing page for “watercolor painting animals” and only touch on this aspect on the “watercolor painting” page.
#2 Merge landing pages
Example: You already have a landing page “Watercolor painting with pens beginners”. It ranks poorly for the long-tail keyword – and for no other relevant keywords; it doesn’t get clicked.
#3 Optimize the parent landing page
Your analysis shows: It’s not worth a standalone page from a user/SERP point of view. But: Your thematically superordinate landing page for watercolor pencils can be expanded to include this aspect. Optimize it from scratch and include the topic “Watercolor painting with pens for beginners”. In the second step, delete the old page and set a 301 redirect to the extended landing page. This can now also rank for your longtails.
#4 Create a new landing page
You don’t have any content or relevant rankings for your standalone longtail keyword yet? Then you need a new page. Important: The new URL should not hang in a vacuum, but should be linked from related pages (ideally with strong clicks).
What share should long-tail keywords have in your SEO strategy?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question – as is often the case in SEO. In theory, the more independent (non-supporting) long-tail keywords you can cover, the better. In practice, the factors of resources, industry affiliation and business goals must be included to evaluate scope and benefit. The following examples illustrate how individual this decision must be made.
Nature of your business & industry
For niche B2B topics, you will inherently need to have a much larger proportion of long-tail keywords. The reason: to reach your target audience and differentiate yourself from B2C, you need to cover content on very specific aspects.
Classic content publishers who finance themselves through display advertising, on the other hand, will have a smaller share of standalone long-tail keyword landing pages. The reason: the product is the content itself, scaling the traffic is more successful with medium to large keywords. In addition, the effort to monitor hundreds of long-tail pages is disproportionately greater. (Of course, this is just an example, there are niches and differences in the publishing industry as well).
Size and authority of your domain
New domains have little chance to rank for short-tail keywords, as the corresponding domains are not yet trusted by Google. Here, long-tail keywords are a good way to build authority.
For large stores, on the other hand, a pure long-tail alignment is difficult. Here, individual product pages are worthwhile targets for optimization. What speaks against this is the sheer mass of products; manual optimization is expensive and out of proportion to the benefit. Although clever automation can be a help, the quality of the content is often insufficient.
It is high time to get your long-tail keywords out of the shadows and give them a permanent place in your SEO strategy. The important thing is to define beforehand how much space you want to give them. Because the truth is that long-tail SEO is not a simple recipe for success, but must always be related to your company, your goals and resources.