How to Use Long Tail Keywords for Website Marketing

Using Long Tail Keyword Phrases for SEO Marketing

A simple long tail graph
A simple long tail graph View full-sized image. J Kyrnin

If you have a website, you want that site to be found by customers looking for the products or services that you offer. One of the ways you may decide to market to these customers online is via search engines.  To do this, you will have to consider keywords, including what is known as "long tail keywords." These are the more specific, detailed search phrases that people may be looking for, as opposed to super general keywords.

Using long tail keyword phrases will help your SEO efforts by increasing your reach and giving your customers articles and information that answer specific questions they have. There are lots of reasons to use long tail keywords, but you can’t start doing long tail keyword marketing if you don’t know how to use find long tail keywords and use them on your website. This article will help you identify potential long tail keyword phrases and how you can use them on your site.

Finding Long Tail Keyword Phrases

Long tail keyword phrases are ones that don’t have as large a search volume as more popular terms, but have enough volume to make a difference in your SEO marketing efforts. That is the balance you are looking for here - specific enough to be really tuned into searchers needs, but still with enough volume to make them worth going after.

The best way to find long tail keywords is with a keyword research tool.

The one I prefer to use is AdWords. This is a Google tool that allows advertisers to bid on keyword phrases for advertising - but it works really well as a keyword research tool as well. Simply type in a starting phrase and Google will spit out dozens or hundreds of similar terms. Then sort by “Global Monthly Searches” (or local if that is more relevant to your business) and look at the keywords that get a moderate amount of traffic.

I generally ignore the “competition” column because that is competition for the words for advertising, and doesn’t always correlate to competition for ranking in Google.

Remember to choose your focus based on your site and your needs. A term that gets 1000 searches a month might be too low for some companies to bother with, but that may be perfect for you and your needs. Or you might consider terms in the 10-15,000 range that some organizations would never even try to target. The point is to choose terms that get enough searches to help, but not be so popular that you can’t get good ranking for them.

Another Google tool to help you find long tail keywords is the “wonder wheel” (and related searches). When you search for something on Google, there are several search tools in the left column that you can use. By looking at the wonder wheel you can see what terms Google thinks is related to your search. And by seeing what types of pages come up for more esoteric searchs, you can see if you have pages on your site that could be optimized for them.

Once You Have Some Long Tail Keywords

Once you have identified some long tail keywords, you need to get pages on your site optimized for them. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Create new pages/content which uses those longtail keyword
  2. Optimize existing content and edit it accordingky

While optimizing existing content might seem like the way to go, I prefer creating new content. This is because the more content you have on your website, the more pages are available to be found in search. Plus, you don’t run the risk of changing a page that is working well for a different keyword phrase and losing your ranking for that. Once again, there is a balance to be struck here. A website can have too many pages and they can be unwieldly to manage if you are not careful. You once again need to find a balance and may the right decisions for your specific needs.

Whether you are creating a new page or optimizing an old one, you should follow the standard rules for SEO. Create good content and make sure it’s useful and valuable.

What Not to do With Long Tail Keywords

It is never a good idea to try to capture page views with any keyword phrase when the page really isn’t related to that phrase. At best, your site will be seen as irrelevant by customers and at worst you could be banned by Google and other search engine providers.

Don’t try to focus on phrases that are so specific they get no searches. While you can crow about being number one in Google for a very very very specific phrase, if no one at all is searching for it, this does you no good. One common example I see all the time is based on location. Many businesses want to optimize their pages for their city name, but unless their city is a major metropolitan area, it won’t generate a lot of search traffic. It would probably be a better use of time and effort to get to number one on Google for that specific of a phrase.

Original article by Jennifer Krynin. Edited by Jeremy Girard on 10/6/17