When you start blogging or writing your business website, it can be tempting to focus all your SEO efforts on the big numbers. The more times a term is searched the better, right?

Not really!

Short keywords are usually highly competitive, unspecific, and attract readers who aren’t sure what they’re searching for. On the other hand, long-tail keywords mean the searcher knows what they’re looking for, which can lead to higher conversions and more sales.

To find out what long-tail keywords are, why you should use them, and how to incorporate them into your business content, keep reading.

What are long tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are phrases of three or more words and are more specific than shorter keywords. Because these keywords are usually a phrase, they have a lower search volume compared to short-tail keywords. The key here is that short-tail keywords often have a huge search volume, but a much higher keyword difficulty.

Because so many people are searching for short-tail keywords, a lot of websites aggressively target them, including with paid ads.

But long-tail keywords are important to the online consumer ecosystem. They provide important context to Google and your readers, as they are usually much more specific and offer relevant information to the searcher. When someone searches for a specific phrase or question, they usually know exactly what type of content they want to find.

By adding more specificity to your target keyword, pages on your website will be more specific to customer needs and show up in relevant searches. So, when someone is searching for “boho style women’s clothing in Adelaide” and your Adelaide boho store pops up in the search, both the customer and you win!

What are the benefits of using a long-tail keyword?

A long-tail keyword offers a much more targeted approach.

Consumers who are using these terms in their search queries are more likely to quickly convert. They know what they’re looking for, and your appearance in the search results assures them that you are relevant to their current needs.

Because long-tail rankings are usually less competitive (there are only so many boho women’s clothing stores in Adelaide, but a lot of general women’s clothing stores), there are fewer businesses trying to rank for the same search term. That makes it a lot easier for your page to rank higher in search.

These phrases also naturally contain short keywords. So, when you focus on long-tail keywords, you automatically will start ranking for short-tail keywords too (even if that rank is far down in the search). For example, “SEO strategy for small business” is a long-tail phrase that contains a few shorter keywords, like “SEO” “SEO strategy” and “small business”, which signals to the search engine that these are also words your page might rank for.

Using long-tail keywords can also help you to produce more compelling and relevant content.

These longer phrases usually encompass some smaller topics, and when you conduct your initial keyword research, you will find other connected search terms that you can use to guide your writing.

For small local businesses, you can also use this approach to help local customers find you. By including suburbs or cities in your keyword phrase, you will be able to connect with consumers who are searching for businesses in a specific area.

What keyword research tools are good for small business?

There are a ton of free and paid keyword tools out there that can help you find appropriate long tail phrases to target.

One of the easiest ways to start getting familiar with keyword research is by using a regular search engine. You’ve probably used Google’s suggestions and Google autocomplete before when searching, but you can also use them when looking for a long tail keyword opportunity.

Here’s an example:

Screenshot of "keyword research" written in Google with Google suggesting additional terms

I’ve used a lot of tools for various projects in the last few years. Here are some of my favourites for good results and ease of use.

Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a really comprehensive website for analysing and tracking your website’s SEO and competitiveness, as well as researching keywords.

One element of the tool is “keyword ideas”. Here, you can search for the topic or focus keyword you want to build from. Ubersuggest will then give you some suggestions including related keywords, questions, and comparisons. Patel’s tool also gives you an overview of the search volume and ranking difficulty of its suggestions, so you can select keywords to target that will rank easily in search.

screenshot of "long tail keyword" results on ubersuggest showing volume, CPC, PD, and difficulty.

Unfortunately, as the tool has become more popular and implemented more features, there are some limitations, but with 3 free daily searches, it’s a great tool to get you started. And if you really love it, you can purchase a monthly subscription or lifetime pass.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is useful for finding long-tail queries. When you search for a topic, this tool will show you what related and relevant questions people are asking online. The results can be broken down into questions, prepositions, comparisons, and related searches.

For example, when I searched Answer the Public for “long-tail keywords” it told me that some of the things people want to know are:

– Are long-tail keywords better?

– Why are long-tail keywords important for SEO?

– How many long-tail keywords for SEO?

– Where to find long-tail keywords?

– Long-tail keywords vs short-tail keywords

These results give me great guidance on the sort of content you (the reader!) may want from this particular blog post.

Answer the Public is really versatile. You can use the results to build an FAQ page to help inform your customers about your product or business, and make you the prime source on any questions consumers are asking about your brand on Google, or just create targetted blog posts.

WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool

The Free Keyword Tool provided by WordStream has an additional search specification that can help you find keyword ideas – industry. You can specify the industry that your business or website is in, helping you to find really relevant keywords.

Like the other tools in this list, Wordstream’s also shows you search volume and competition, but doesn’t further define the results into other lists like questions. The simplicity of the tool does it make it easy to use and learn.

A screenshot of a long tail keyword search on wordstream showing search volume, CPC, competition.

How do you use long-tail keywords?

Although all of the information on long-tail keywords may seem overwhelming, once you start incorporating them into your strategy, you will find them incredibly helpful for creating content that appeals to your small business consumers.

To make the most of your long-tail keyword strategy, you need to understand your customer persona. By really knowing your target audience, you can effectively research the keywords that they will be searching for.

Once you know your customer and where they are in the buyer journey, you can use one of the tools above to find relevant long-tail keywords. For example, say that I run a local real estate agency. I may use Answer the Public to search for “local real estate”. There, I see that people are asking “why use a local real estate agent?” But if I keep looking through these results, I can find a lot of similar phrases that I could easily incorporate into a blog post or web page.

With the search results from the tool, I can signpost a page using the relevant long tail keywords as headings. It may look like this:

Screenshot of a word doc with headers "why use a local agent", what is a local agent, is it better to use one, etc.

By using the phrases as headers, Google will know that, when someone asks these questions, this page or post will have the answers.

These headers can also help guide you with writing the rest of your page. It’s important not to keyword stuff, so be mindful of how often you are using each phrase throughout the page.

A good guideline for keywords is to use your major one in the title of the page, at least one header, in the first paragraph, and occasionally throughout the text. Of course, when you’re focusing on a topic, you will need to use relevant terms, so take opportunities to reword them a little (Google likes this too). In this instance, I would alternate terms for a realtor, and talk about agents and the agencies.

It’s also important to make use of the meta description, search titles, and alt text for your images. The text that you use in these areas still needs to be relevant (image alt text, for example, needs to tell those with vision impairments what the image is and the purpose it has on the page), but it’s another opportunity to use a variation of your long-tail keyword.

In conclusion: long tail keywords are great for your content marketing and your customers.

Focusing on long tail keywords can help you write content that your target audience will find informative and useful, creating a link of trust between you and your consumers.

If you need advice on writing or researching long tail keywords, send me a message, I’ll be glad to help!

Lady using a laptop with "focus on long-tail keywords for small business seo" overlay text

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