Long Tail Keywords: What They Are and How To Use Them

The phrase “the long tail” was coined in 2004 by Chris Anderson. In Wired Magazine, he wrote: “The Long Tail: Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.”

He was referring to the demand curve explained by this infographic:

The Hidden Value of Long Tail SEO

The Biggest, Yet Least Competitive Part of Search

Long tail searches work together with head searches to bring traffic to your site. For a website that follows the stock market, the search “Good Stocks” would be a top search and “Good Social Media Stocks With Profits” would be a long tail search.

There is a greater chance that someone will find your site with a longer search. Creating content that incorporates both head and long tail search keywords brings increased search engine visibility to all websites instantly.

Long tail searches feature less competition and incorporating long tail keywords into content is an inexpensive way to increase the earning potential of any business by simply better utilizing resources, which already exist.

The Internet makes many niche businesses, which were impossible due to limited demand, not only profitable and feasible, but highly desirable. Long tail items, which were too obscure to be stocked by traditional retailers find buyers on the Internet. In fact, 70% of Internet search traffic is comprised of searches, which are considered long tail.

Furthermore, the fastest growing segment of search is for  longer searches. In general terms, long tail searches tend to convert to paying customers or returning visitors at a higher rate than head searches. Consumers tend to search with longer terms when they are closer to making a purchasing decision.

Think About Questions Your Customers Ask

If you offer guitar lessons in Detroit, Michigan, publishing a great website with copy describing that you offer guitar lessons, are experienced in rock and blues, are available seven days a week and have 20 years of experience will be missed by many searches unless you mention that you are located in Detroit, Michigan as well.

Most people searching for guitar lessons would specify a location. For people interested in buying insurance, the search “insurance” would be a top search, while “home insurance in Denver, Colorado” would be a related long tailed search.

Research search terms customers are using to find your website now and expand on those. Build long tailed versions of the head keywords, which bring visitors to your site. The longer and more diverse the trail of long tailed keywords that are left for potential visitors on the web, the greater the potential they will visit you site and convert to paying customers, subscribers or returning visitors.

Llewellyn Richards

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Llewellyn Richards is an experienced financial writer with many published articles on topics ranging from technical analysis to due diligence. He is a graduate of the Canadian Securities Course and Conduct Practices Handbook Course. Richards is passionate about writing, as well as upholding the integrity of capital markets.

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Cassandra Parsons
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Cassandra Parsons

thanks for the laugh reading this article…reason for my laughter is because I never realized that i was writing like you suggest, long before it was popular….thanks for the enlightenment, laughter and encouragement!

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

It must feel good to learn your writing was ahead of its time.

Stephan Greer
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Stephan Greer

This is an outstanding article LIewellyn. The new ‘organic’ face of SEO and the elimination of the ‘old ways’ require diligence in the usage of key word campaigns. Identifying good content, phrases and combinations is essential in any online reach campaign. This article really shines a light on the sometimes confusing concept of ‘long tail keywords’. This is very clear example of the value of a quality approach to ‘key word SEO’.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

Unless your niche is just really narrow, it’s all about the long tail. You aren’t going to rate highly for some top-tier keyword that other sites have been ranking well for for the past 10 years.

Talitha Cumi
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Talitha Cumi

I agree that assuming the role of consumer and posing questions that they would ask when searching for information is key, Llewellyn. Thank you for a good article.

Nick Trenton
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Nick Trenton

Thank you for the breakdown of what exactly is meant by “long tail.” The infographic was great! I know there are some tools out there that will help content producers know what search terms are most effective. It has been a while since I’ve used any. Does anyone know any links to free resources that are out there and up to date?

Myra Michaels
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Myra Michaels

Llewellyn, what excellent suggestions for the long tail keyword. It makes good sense that a person really interested in purchasing a product or service would tend to give longer and more specific keywords in their searches, so why shouldn’t they lead to one of your or your customers’ blogs? I will remember your advice as I do my research for the blogs I write, for the “long tails” will lead to better and more detailed research. Thanks!

Simona May
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Simona May

It is so important to remember that people often use search engines to find very specific things. Long tail keywords are crucial to reaching niche-dwellers and the 70% of people who know exactly what they are looking for. Thank you for the post, it was a helpful reminder.

Elizabeth Chaney
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Elizabeth Chaney

I love your description of the long tail keywords. You really made me rethink the composition of my website.

Diana Ingram
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Diana Ingram

I agree. Your article gives an excellent explanation of exactly what ‘long-tailed keywords’ are and how they are so valuable. I enjoyed your visuals, too. Thanks, this has been very informative.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

Yeah, I liked the infographic that was included. That can be fun for seeing the data in a different way. Thanks!

auntieemily
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auntieemily

I just recently learned what long tail keywords are. I like the way that you went deeper and explained them and how they can work for us.

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