Long-tail Keywords: How You Should Use Them on Your Business Website


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If you’re in business, you probably know about the long-tail. But, you might not know what it means and more importantly, what it has to do with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) success. Long-tail keywords can be the difference between obscurity and notoriety on the web, and they are something you cannot afford to ignore.

This article was contributed by Romain Berg, a full service digital marketing agency based in Minneapolis, MN.

What Exactly Are long-tail Keywords?

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Long-tail keywords are strings of keywords that tend to be, well, longer, than most internet searches, but that’s because they are more specific. According to Ahrefs, 90 percent of web searches use long-tail keywords.

If you’re focusing only on the most popular keywords, then you are fighting with others for 10 percent of your possible customers. That other 90 percent are out there on the long-tail, just waiting for you to provide the content they want.

Remember: these potential happy customers just needed to know you exist. How do you do that? By optimizing for long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are usually three, four, or more words long, and an attempt to get to a nuanced or particular aspect of a subject.

As a result, they aren’t as popular as broader searches, but they do a much better job at converting a search into a sale.

As we love to say: cha-ching.

Long-tail keyword optimization is a strategy that allows you to reach small sub-groups of people looking for a niche product or specific information. When you use long-tail keywords, you can pop to the top of the search rankings and establish yourself as an authority for those particular needs.

Boom. Just what you were aiming for, right?

Customers use specific, long-tail keywords because they don’t want thousands of results from Google. They don’t want to sift through pages on the Internet to find the often quite specific information they want.

That’s what long-tail keyword searches are, and that’s why you can’t ignore them. Here are some specific tips to help optimize your SEO for long-tail keywords:

Long-tail Keywords Ask You to Be Specific on Your Websites and Blogs

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Many long-tail keywords are long strings of words, such as “roof repair in Minnesota,” or “herbal remedies for nail fungus,” or “getting my toddler to eat vegetables without crying.”

They often have a location, a gender, an age group, or another qualifier. These searchers don’t want any roof repair, just the roof repair near them.

Or they want roof repair for a specific problem, such as “roof repair after a hail storm.” long-tail keywords use these longer, more specific phrases to match what the customer asks for.

To optimize for long-tail searches, use these particular keyword strings in your content on your site. You can find some good examples of the searches people want by looking at the predictive text in Google or by partnering with an SEO specialist.

Answer The Web Searcher’s Question to Optimize long-tail Searches

When the internet was young, people used boolean operators. They had to know the difference between an “and” in a search and an “or” in the search.

Search engines used boolean operators to create their results. Those who understood how boolean searches worked could craft better results.

Then search engines got a lot smarter. Scary smarter at times.

No longer are librarians the best web searchers with the best keywords. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others program their algorithms to respond to the way searchers phrase their searches: in the form of a question.

I’ll take Thinking Like a User for $1000, Alex.

That’s right. To optimize your SEO for long-tail keyword searches, you need to think like the person who is looking for your services.

What questions will they ask their search engine? Consider all the classic journalist prompts: who, what, when, where, why, and how. What, why, and how are especially useful for web searches on the long-tail.

For example, “how do you repair a roof leak?” or “how do I get rid of bats in my attic” are all excellent long-tail searches that could lead to customers if you’re a roofer or a bat removal specialist. If you had a web page with those keywords in use, that is.

long-tail Keywords Capitalize on the SERP and Convert Leads

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Many searches don’t result in clicks.

When people search for specific answers, such as “Did Stan Lee die?” and the answer comes up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) as a featured snippet, then they don’t need to click anything to find out what they need to know.

You can anticipate those easy-to-answer questions and get your page to rank higher if the search engine determines that your page provides the quickest, easiest, and most relevant answer.

Setting up a blog post with a question and answer format is a great way to optimize these long-tail keyword results.

Attempt to match a subheading on your web page is to an actual long-tail search question. If the answer is written clearly beneath it (preferably in bullet points) the better your chances of landing on the SERP page and being considered an authority on the matter.

Users then are only one step away from landing on your page and becoming a customer.

How Do I Optimize SEO for long-tail Keywords?

See what we did there? We made a subheading a question that used long-tail keywords. Now here’s the answer:

  1. Hire a reputable SEO optimization firm. It’s our job to use data available on the web to discover long-tail searches, profitable keywords, and user questions, and convert them into high-value content.  We highly recommend our affiliates at www.romainberg.com.

This strategy results in not just hits and exposure, but in measurable sales. Hiring an SEO firm means that you know you’re well on your way to optimizing the long-tail for your particular industry and niches.

2. Use Google’s Predictive Text to Find long-tail Keywords. Go to your search engine (Google is particularly good at this) and enter a few keywords related to your business. Watch what comes up using the auto-suggest or related search features.

Those results represent common searches —information people want to know. Don’t just look at the top result – that’s the most common. Pay attention to other related questions below the top one, especially the ones that are the most specific. These are topics you can write about on your website so that you can be the one to answer those long-tail keyword questions.

3. Remember your goal. You must ask yourself,  “what do people want to know?” or “why do people search for my product or service?”. By thinking like a user, you can find long-tail SEO keywords that you can then use on your site.

With long-tail SEO keyword optimization, you are, to an extent, forgetting about getting to the top of the most common search results. Leave those searches to the folks with the biggest, deepest sites and pockets. Instead, focus on the long-tail keyword searches.

Remember that 90 percent of searches aren’t those most common searches anyway. You can tailor your website content to specific long-tail keywords that customers desire.

This strategy leverages the lower competition for search results to cause you to rank higher in those specific searches and to build authority with your potential clients.

It’s a classic “if you build it, they will come” scenario. In this case, what you build is specialized, long-tail keyword SEO-optimized web content that gets long-tail searchers to your page.

How to Write For long-tail SEO Optimization

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There are a few long-tail optimization strategies that will drive searchers to your site:

A Generic How-To Page for Something Frequently Asked in Your Industry

A generic how-to page that might not have significant commercial value, but it increases your exposure and is a good long-tail SEO optimization strategy. If you discover that a lot of people are looking for the answer to a DIY or common issue related to your industry, then design a page optimized to answer their question.

A good example is a graphic design firm offering a page where they explain how to convert a file from one type to another. Users will put in those search terms, find their page, click there, read the information, solve their problem, and then leave.

Most of the people who arrive on the page aren’t looking to buy anything at that time, and the company didn’t convert that click into a sale.

They did, however, get thousands of folks landing on their page, and they did succeed in being the number one search result for that specific question. Additionally, users spent a lot of time on that page, which improves other metrics that will increase your ranking with search engines.

This kind of SEO long-tail keyword optimization page lends your company a kind of authority and credibility, so that when some of those searchers do need to a product or service you provide, they may well remember the company who helped them the first time.

In the end, it’s a numbers game. If you attract a lot of people to your site, some of them are going to get curious and click around, discovering more about you as a company, and your other services.

Third, you’re building great brand management and exposure. Even subconsciously, that searcher who goes to your page to get an answer for something but doesn’t buy anything remembers your company’s name.

They transfer the good feelings they have for getting their problem solved to your company. Should they forget your company’s name but remember the problem they solved, all they have to do is search again, and you’ll be back to top-of-page and top-of-mind.

Optimize your keywords to be the resource people need to get their questions answered – not just the most common questions, but the specific ones out on the long-tail.

Longer and More Specific Searches are Optimized for long-tail Keywords

Another long-tail SEO strategy is to write web content designed for the longer and more specific search terms that are common with long-tail keywords. You can combine several of these terms into a single article, to accumulate hits and improve your ranking even more.

Next Steps for Your long-tail SEO Optimization Win

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We know that the top predictors of whether your website will rank on search engines are content and backlinks. By optimizing using long-tail keywords, you will produce more content, making your site deeper and more diverse. The more content you have, the higher you’ll rank.

Long-tail optimization strategies can also help you capture more backlinks, which, in turn, improves your SEO ranking. If you create a page that uses long-tail keywords to best answer a specific question or that hits a particular niche or concern, other sites will link to you as an authority.

Then, it’s simple math: the more backlinks you get, the higher your page will rank. The higher you rank, the more clicks, and soon you’re on your way to more customers. See how long-tail keyword SEO optimization works? It’s a win-win.

If you’re looking for help with long-tail search optimization, contact us at Dominate with SEO. We’ll connect you with a comprehensive digital marketing agency dedicated to all the DFY digital services your business needs to grow.

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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