It has always been difficult to rank for high-competition keywords that your competition already ranks for.
Instead of competing in a David and Goliath type battle, look for a better solution – long tail keywords. This type of keyword strategy could be the thing that could help increase web traffic eventually leading to business success.
Let’s look at the advantages of long tail keywords and a few hacks on how to use them to gain more traffic.
What Are Long Tail Keywords?
Long tail keywords are search queries that usually (not necessarily) contain more than two words in one phrase. Long tail keywords can be disregarded due to their low search volume. Furthermore, the majority of long tail keywords get ten or fewer searches per month. By analyzing 1.9 billion keywords (from Ahrefs’ US database), 92.42% of them were long-tail, however, the search volume on these keywords was extremely low:
And now it is understandable the reason why long tail keywords could be viewed “unpopular.”
But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the shorter the keyword, the higher search volume it has.
This example illustrates that the keywords with 3+ words per phrase have more search volume in contrast to a simple two-word phrase.
Here is an example of when single-word keywords had a low search volume:
These examples prove that you should not identify keyword popularity solely by the number of words in a phrase.
2. In a Quest for Long Tail Keywords
There are a few ways to find long-tail keywords. The simplest one is with the help of a simple Google search. Start typing your query and Google will give you some suggestions which are basically long tail keywords:
Also check the sections “People also ask” and “Searches related to”:
This method is actionable but can be time-consuming. You’ll need a keyword research tool that would help you explore the best long-tails for your brand.
You can find different professional keyword research tools but I recommend you to experiment with Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. All that you will have to do is add your seed keyword and click on “Phrase match” report in the left-side menu:
If you want to find more specific queries, apply the word count filter:
You can also steal long tail keyword ideas from your competitors as well. “Organic keywords” report in Site Explorer helps you here:
- Organic keywords” (left column, “Organic search” section) is a report that shows the total number of keywords that the target website, subsection, or URL ranks for in the top 100 organic search results across all countries in Ahrefs database.
- “Volume” this metric represents the average monthly number of searches for the keyword in the selected country.
- “Word count” filter allows you to group the keyword according to the number of words you want to (For example, how long tail keywords that contain 3-5 words in each phrase)
3. Use Long Tail Keywords to Get Tons of Traffic
The long-tail keyword “turmeric weight loss” has 2.4K searches per month but take a look at the list of the top ranking pages for that keyword:
As you can see, the majority of these top ranking pages have about 20 referring domains on average.
What does it mean?
It means that you have chances to rank high on Google for this specific keyword.
In contrast to this, a “head” query like “weight loss” with 98K searchers per month has the following stats:
Here you can see that some top pages have an enormous number of backlinks. It means that it would be very difficult to outrank them.
Nevertheless, there are also cases when long tail keywords with a low search volume are highly competitive. This is because some long-tail search queries don’t appear as individual topics. They fall under separate topics that are related to a single general topic. For instance, let’s review this example:
The queries are phrased differently but they express the same idea. People are searching how to “lose weight” and Google understands this.
All this information leads to the conclusion that each topic has a “search demand curve’ that looks like this:
This graph tells us that all these long tail keywords belong to one “main” topic, weight loss. While, there are also long tail keywords that express their own topic, like “turmeric weight loss”:
Such long tail keywords are so-called “topical.” So, we have two types of long tail keywords – “topical” and “supporting” long-tails. Each of these types has its own ranking strategy to be applied.
Let’s review both of them.
4. “Supporting” Long Tail Keywords
How to get traffic from “supporting” long tail keywords?
By targeting the main “head” term, “how to lose weight”
A head term is a popular keyword that drives high search volume. (For example, “cute cat” is a popular topic, thus it is considered as a “head” term, while “the cutest cat in the world” is a long tail keyword that belongs to this general topic)
The trick is that there is no need in targeting “supporting” long-tails separately. Keep in mind that Google unites all of them under the same broad topic.
The question is how to find a “head” term? To find this out, you will need some top-ranking page for a target long-tail keyword and “Organic keywords” report:
The thing is that if you can rank for some of “head” terms, you will be able to rank for a number of long tail keywords as well.
You might be curious about ranking for as many long tail keywords as possible. First of all, explore top-10 ranking pages and examine how detailed they are. Your aim is to make your page better (or not worse at least.) And the second tip is to analyze all the keywords that the top-pages rank for. It will help you understand what should be presented on your page.
5. “Topical” Long Tail Keywords
“Topical long tail keywords” represent individual topics of their own rather than being part of a bigger topic. (For example, the keyword “black shoes with navy suit” is a topical long tail keyword.) They typically have a low-search volume:
A keyword “ibanez k5 bass” has a very low search volume and almost the same parent topic. But the thing is that it covers a separate individual topic. Check out top-ranking pages results:
You can see the keyword “ibanez k5 bass” is an individual topic because the top-ranking pages results are focused on this topic specifically.
How to get traffic from the “topical” long tail keywords?
Simply by targeting “topical” long-tails instead of “head” keywords that are highly competitive. You will be able to get more traffic by ranking for 20-50 of such keywords.
You can go further and apply some modifiers with the “topical” long-tail keywords. “Phrase match” report suggests you good keyword opportunities:
The hint is that you can much more likely succeed with ranking for “topical” long tail keywords than ranking for “head” terms. Go ahead and try. You will see that you’ll get more traffic to your website.
It should be pointed out that not all long tail keywords play by these rules. For instance, a couple of top-ranking pages for a long tail phrase “how to do email outreach”:
One of the results covers the specific topic of why cold outreach ROI doesn’t work, while the other two are talking about email outreach in general.
Plus, if you take a look at the amount of the backlinks these top-pages have, you will understand that it won’t be hard for you to rank high as well:
Simply said, you should sort out priorities ranking for the long tail keywords, choosing between “topical” and “supporting” ones.
To Sum up
This post aimed to explain what long tail keywords are, how Google treats them, and how to gain traffic and develop your content marketing strategy with them.
You might notice that long tail keywords mainly have a low search volume. But, it doesn’t mean that you could rank for them easier than for high-volume keywords. Long-tail keywords can be a part of some broader topic. That’s why Google can show the same results for the long-tail terms that are “unpopular”, tieing them up to the “head” keyword.
If you have some other ideas on how to gain traffic using long tail keywords, feel free to tell me about them in the comments.
Guest author: Sergey Aliokhin
Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Manager at Andcards. Apart from working in digital marketing, he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings. Don’t hesitate to contact him.
Originally posted: Apr 2, 2019
Reposted: Apr 21, 2020
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