Long-Tail Keywords: What They Are and Why You Need to Use Them (SEO Tips)

Long-Tail Keywords: What They Are and Why You Need to Use Them (search engine optimization tips)

How we search has changed. In the beginning, people searched for keywords. If you were taking a trip, you typed in the name of the place. Maybe you added the words “hotel discounts” to it.

Today, people are searching for answers to their questions, and that’s turned search engine optimization on its head.

Long-Tail Keywords: What They Are and Why You Need to Use Them - infographic
Source: Salesforce.

Keywords: a Quick Primer

There are short-tail (broad) and long-tail (narrow) keywords. Short-tail keywords are broad but short terms your customers would use to find you. For instance, if you operate a plumbing business a short-tail keyword might be “plumber” or “Tampa plumber” adding in location to direct search traffic a little more efficiently.

The problem with short-tail keywords is that they can be highly competitive depending on your field. For instance, a home designer may be competing with large-scale operations like Houzz and other sites that have much larger paid search budgets. You will, most likely, never outrank them.

That’s one of the reasons why long-tail keywords have become so important. Long-tail keywords allow businesses to rank for the language and phrases people are using in a search. To be considered a long-tail keyword, the phrase is generally over three words. Long-tail is more targeted than short-tail and addresses what people are looking for. Long-tail keywords often get at a problem. For instance,

Short-tail keyword: Tampa plumber

Long-tail keyword: solutions for clogged pipes

In this example, the searcher will find pages and pages of Tampa plumbers. It may even pull up plumbing supplies or other key terms that have a business overlap. You’ll find a big name, national plumbing franchises, as well as national companies who work with plumbers like Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. The list can be overwhelming for some users, and so they are apt to select the first couple on the list. If your search engine optimization hasn’t placed you there, you’re out of luck.

Less Competition on Long-tail Keywords

If you have ranked highly for less competitive long-tail keywords, you have an opportunity to reach the searcher through articles you’ve created on when to call a plumber and what to do for clogged pipes. Now you’re providing value, not just a sales site.

Because long-tail keywords are less competitive, they are often less expensive if you do pay to rank on search engines.

The Biggest Reason to Use Long-Tail Keywords

While it’s easier to increase your rankings with long-tail keywords than it is with short-tail keywords, there is another reason that you want to begin reshaping your keyword strategy to include these more specific search phrases. With the introduction of Apple’s Siri, and now Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, many experts believe the future of search is voice queries.

When people use “digital assistants” in an online search, they don’t bark out one-word searches. They talk to their electronics the way they would a friend by asking things like “What’s the best halal food restaurant nearby?”. Long-tail keywords accommodate this change in search because often when people verbalize their search inquiries, they are more precise (and wordy).

Key Takeaways on Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are crucial to your SEO for several reasons: they are easier to rank for than the broad, shorter terms; they are less expensive if you do pay for them, and they are more aligned with the way people are searching today. Take some time and brainstorm how people would search for you. What problem are you solving? What interest do you fill? Ask others and look at Google analytics. Expanding your search engine optimization strategy to include long-tail keywords will help you improve your rankings and increase your exposure.
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