All You Need to Know About Long Tail Keywords

SEO techniques are evolving continually. What worked yesterday, may not necessarily work today. To create an effective SEO strategy, you must stay up to date with the latest techniques.

Furthermore, you must maintain your knowledge of current trends and developments. In this article, we look at one specific SEO strategy that is sometimes overlooked – Long Tail Keywords.  

A brief introduction to keywords in SEO

If you have any experience in SEO (search engine optimization), you will know that keywords are important. Keywords are words or phrases we predict users will search for in relation to your website/blog. For example, someone looking for gardening equipment may search for “cheap gardening tools” on Google. “Cheap gardening tools” could be a suitable keyword, therefore. There are two broad categorizations of keyword – short tail and long tail.  

What is a long tail keyword?

Definition – A long tail keyword generally contains a minimum of three words; they also contain specific wording, and generally have a low volume of search traffic in comparison to a short tail keyword.

Confused? Let’s give a simple example.

You want to search for tickets to an NBA basketball game in New York. For your preliminary search, you may simply type in “NBA tickets”, “basketball tickets”, or “NYC basketball” – these are all examples of short tail keywords. They are quite generic and vague – nothing too specific. This type of keyword is generally what may first pop into your head before you have given the subject thought.

If you really wanted to purchase those tickets, you may type in Google, “NBA Basketball tickets New York”, “New York Knicks basketball tickets”, or “Madison Square garden NBA tickets” – these are all examples of long tail keywords. They are specific. You are specifically searching for basketball tickets for the New York Knicks NBA team – not just a broad categorization of tickets. This type of keyword is what you will use when you are making a serious purchase. Thousands of people may search for “NBA tickets”, but only a handful of people may search for “NBA basketball tickets New York”.

To illustrate the placement of short tail and long tail keywords, we have outlined a typical consumer search process:

1. The consumer decides they want to watch an NBA basketball game in New York
2. The consumer finds out more information via a simple Google Search, “NBA tickets”
3. Consumer evaluates their initial findings and sums up costs etc.
4. The consumer decides to proceed with their purchase and types on Google, “New York Knicks basketball tickets”
5. Consumer finalizes the purchase and has fun watching the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Can you see where the two types of keyword fit in? Long tail keywords generally fit in further down the search process – when the consumer wants to make a final decision.

Volume & Specificity, not length

People tend to get hung up on the LENGTH of long tail keywords – this is not important. What’s more important is the specificity of the long tail keyword and its search volume. These two features are generally concurrent i.e. the more specific your search term is, the lower search volume it will have.

As you will see below, there are many advantages to targeting long tail keywords – it can be a highly effective SEO strategy.

What are the advantages of targeting long tail keywords?

The following are some of the main advantages of using long tail keywords; we will elaborate below:

– Long tail keywords are easier to gain higher rankings for
– There is generally less competition for long tail keywords
– Long tail keywords will yield a higher percentage of successful customer visits

The first two points are mutual but equally as important. If you wanted to boost rankings for the following search terms, “crop a photo”, and “how to crop an image in photoshop”, the second term would be much easier to gain rankings for.

Why? Because practically no one will be competing for rankings on that long tail keyword. Potentially hundreds of different travel blogs, photography blogs, and travel websites could be competing for “travel photography”. You would have to invest a great deal of time, effort and money to get anywhere close to the first page of Google for this phrase. In contrast, you could gain high rankings (if not the first return), for the long tail keyword, just by using standard SEO techniques.

The advantage is also hugely beneficial. Someone searching for “travel photography” could be searching for that term for any number of reasons. They may just want to look at some cool photos. They may want to gain ideas for their own blog. In contrast, someone searching for “portrait travel photography Thailand”, is looking for something specific – there is a high possibility that they want to purchase this type of photography or use it for a specific reason – the chance for an ROI is much higher as a result.

What are the disadvantages of targeting long tail keywords?

Now that you understand the benefits, we have to discuss the disadvantages. Long tail keywords are not the only solution you should use for SEO. It is advisable to try and target a range of both short and long tail keywords – this will give you diversity. Moreover, the different keywords should complement each other.

The main downside to long tail keywords is obviously their lower search volume. A short tail keyword such as “wedding ring” will have thousands of hits if not millions. Just think how many people would search for this term when looking for a wedding ring – the scope is huge. Long tail keywords simply don’t have the same reach and scope. A fraction of those people who searched for “wedding ring” may search for “rose gold dual band wedding ring”. If 1000 people searched for the short tail keyword, maybe only 10 would search for the long tail keyword.

Obviously, the payoff is the higher percentage of users who will actually make a purchase or take action from the long tail keyword search. Of those 10 people, 9, for example, might buy a wedding ring from you.

How to identify suitable long tail keywords for your business?

So how can you identify possible long tail keywords? This is generally the most time-consuming part. Identifying a short tail keyword is relatively easy – it’s usually a combination of words relating to the product/service you sell for example.

At a basic level, you should identify long tail keywords using common sense and logic. Consider your customers and product/service. Get into the minds of your customers and consider what they would search for or how they would think.

Let’s go back to the photography example. Your website sells professional photography centering on Thailand – your photos are usually used in corporate marketing, blogs and for website content. If someone wanted your photos, what would they search for? Thailand marketing photos? Corporate photography Thailand? Think like this and draft a list of potential long tail keywords.

Aside from using common sense, there are a plethora of analytical tools you can use too. The following are some popular tools used to find suitable long tail keywords:

Keyword Planner
– Use Google’s related search feature to display potential alternatives to a short tail keyword
Google Trends
– YouTube’s keyword tool
– Analyze your competitors long tail keywords etc.


We hope you now have a clearer understanding of long tail keywords. When creating your SEO strategy, you must give thought to this type of keyword. Whilst they may not yield the same volume of results as short tail keywords, they are much easier to gain a higher rank for – as a result, your overall expense and time would be much less.

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