Four ways to leverage long-tail keywords and why you should care

Social Media. Digital Marketing. Advertising.

In days gone by, SEOs the world-over based entire strategies on trying to rank short-tail search terms, mainly due to the enormous search volume they held.

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These strategies made sense, of course businesses wanted to position themselves at the top of these search results pages. Back then, position one practically guaranteed traffic to your site. But in many ways, this strategy held business-owners back from harnessing the full potential of their website. 

These high-volume search terms were often extremely broad, making it difficult to rank for them. Additionally, the content used was often overly sales-orientated, very end-of-the-funnel-style. This inevitably resulted in lower rankings and lost opportunities. While everyone was competing for placement for these terms, there was a much easier and more effective approach right under everyone’s noses: long-tail search terms. 

Although search volumes for these types of phrases are considerably lower than shorter, broader phrases, they hold enormous potential. By understanding user-intent, where they are on their sales journey and how this lines up with your offering, you can leverage the power of long-tail search terms to increase user experience, satisfaction and conversions. 

What are long-tail keywords?

There are a couple of definitions for long-tail keywords. 

  1. Some believe that they are less specific terms, with a lower search volume than their ‘shorter; counterparts.
  1. Others believe that they are simply search terms that consist of three or more words. 

Whichever side you find yourself on, there is no argument from seasoned SEO’s that long-tail search terms are the way forward. Even with the smaller search volume, they can provide higher conversion value, due to their specificity.

How can we use long-tail search terms?

There are multiple applications of long-tail search terms, and the avenue you choose to take will vary depending on the stage you are hoping to meet potential customers.

How to use long-tail search terms to show up in the SERPs

Site links

Site links work the same way organically as they do for PPC ads. All you have to do is place frequently asked questions and answers on a relevant landing page, apply schema markup, and Google will add these to your search result. 

Not only do sitelinks help users navigate to the answer they are looking for quickly, but it also:

  • Introduces them to your brand, 
  • Showcases your authority,
  • Takes up more space in the SERPs, making your business more prominent and your competitors less so.

Featured snippets

Featured snippets first made an appearance in 2014, and hold the coveted position zero in the SERPs. Both short and long-tail search terms can generate featured snippets. 

Although there are arguments that featured snippets reduce click-through rate, when used strategically, they can be a useful tool to rank highly and get people to click through to your website.

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People also ask boxes

Another form of frequently asked questions, but positioned elsewhere on the SERPs. By answering commonly asked questions, you not only help to move potential customers further down the sales funnel and closer to investing in your product or service, but it is another way of increasing your brand visibility.

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Blog posts

Long-tail search terms usually target users earlier in the sales funnel, and following conversion. So, targeting blog posts with these types of search terms in mind is a fantastic way to introduce your brand and maintain relationships post-sale. 

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Discover the type of questions people are asking at every stage of the sales journey, including afterwards, and answer their questions with quality content. 

Whether you are educating potential customers, helping them troubleshoot common problems or showcasing unknown uses of certain products, you will be increasing your brand visibility and convincing your customers that you actually care about them. 

Leveraging the power of long-tail keywords

So, now you know the hidden potential of long-tail keywords, and how they can be leveraged for brand visibility, user experience and increased conversions. 

However, unless you know how to find long-tail opportunities, there is no power in this knowledge. Below are a variety of tools you can use to discover the types of terms people are using and incorporate them into your content strategy. 

Long-tail keyword research tools

 SEO platforms with research tools

Whatever platform you are using to track your current site rankings, chances are there will be an associated search term research tool that will report on long-tail search term opportunities. Some of them will also offer additional stats such as relevant SERP features. Just a couple of the platforms that provide this service include:

Long-tail keyword specific tools

Some websites specialise in long-tail search term research. Simply search for a specific topic or theme, and the tool will generate a variety of long-tail search terms you can utilise. 

  • Answer the public will pull in commonly asked questions surrounding your topic.
  • Topics will offer a mix of relevant short and long-tail keywords, as well as the search volume and additional SERP features; such as whether the terms can be used to gain featured snippets and where your competitors rank for these phrases.
  • Also asked works similarly to Answer the Public, but specifically targets People Also Ask boxes.
  • Search console generates a search term report that showcases the terms your website is ranking for. You can see impressions, click-through rate and where your site ranks on average. It will be easier to improve current rankings than try to show up for entirely new ones.

Manual searches

Another method to source long-tail search terms is to carry out your own manual searches. In an incognito window, navigate to Google or Bing and search for the service or topic you are interested in, and make a note of any featured snippets and people also ask boxes that are generated. You could also note any long-tail phrases being utilised in the organic metadata. 

In conclusion

Leveraging the power of long-tail keywords can help you offer more useful content, build relationships, increase brand visibility and improve conversion rate. 

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When asked what she does for a living, Rebekah says that she is a writer. If asked what she does in her spare time, writing will also be her answer. She began her career as an agency content writer, before going on an adventure exploring SEO, PPC and social media. She returned safely, and while she has fond memories of her travels, and uses them to enhance her content, her heart will always belong to writing.