You might have heard about the usage of a long tail keyword in SEO, but what is a long tail keyword really? I will make things really simple to explain it to you and I am going to show you what they are used for.
About Keyword Usage In SEO
Naturally we do not write for search engines, as search engines aren’t going to use the content we are publishing. We publish content for human beings and so we should take human beings into account first and foremost when producing content.
As soon as we start writing or producing content (for video and image are also forms of content production) for search engines solely, we will be unreadable to humans. Clear communication is everything, so humans come first.
This doesn’t take away that we want our content to be visible and find able by these humans through search engines and that is where keywords play a role.
Search engine optimization starts by some forms of making the content more available and readable for a search engine. That is done through plugins, software and contextual markup. In video production it is about the title and description as well as the thumbnail. In image production it is the image name, the text in the image and in blog writing it is a lot of elements at once.
Keywords are a story on their own and that is what we are going to talk about in this post.
Keywords play a major role in SEO as that basically is going to be describing the topic we are producing our content around, be a blog, a video or an image. In my world, as with this post you are reading it is about writing a blog, including an image or two and perhaps a video and having all these elements incorporate a keyword.
What Is A Long Tail Keyword In SEO?
Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Important
Before I go deeper into this subject, let’s first look at why we should be bothered at all with keywords, whether they are being long tail or head. First of all keywords help to define your content. It gives your content purpose and a general census of your overall story that you are telling or product review you are writing.
Secondary the keywords help you to rank your content better. It is all part of the Search Engine Optimization we are all after to rank in search engines. With so many websites out there and so many new ones coming each day, it is a true race to the top among all sites.
What you will find out in the next part of this explanation is the key importance of long-tail keywords vs the head part of them. To put it very simple, head keywords, however big in volume, does only contain 18.5% of total search traffic. The mid section of the search traffic has an 11.5% of total search volume, while the long-tail keywords will offer content to a whopping 70% of search traffic.
So writing a lot of long-tail keyword content, will get you the most traffic in total to your website.
Confusion Of The Name Long-Tail
The name itself has caused more confusion than clarity, so I am going to adopt a different term right off the bat to make things a little less complicated: EasierToRankFor-LowerSearchVolume-LowerTraffic Keyword.
There, I said it. That still might not make all that much sense to you, but it is definitely better than the term Long Tail Keywords. Plenty of people have been saying that long tail keywords are keywords consisting of four or more words. This is wrong. They can be four or more words long, they can also be three words long.
Although it is often the case that a better descriptive keyword is a longer keyword, it is not required. There are shorter keywords that are still considered long-tail or EasierToRankFor-LowerSearchVolume-LowerTraffic Keyword.
How Search Developed
Put it super simple, when you are looking for the next best pair of shoes to buy, do you search for “shoes” or do you look for “shoes for males 2019” ??
I think you look for the latter search term and there are good reasons for that. First of all we are not machines and do not use and think terms to look for things in simple terms in search engines. This is of the old-stamp of search engine users where we used single-word keywords in combination with operators such as AND / OR / NOT (or + and -).
Secondary we want to find the results we are looking for, so we search for that what we need. We don’t want shoes, but we want a certain type of shoes. We want shoes that are in for this year and not “so yesterday”. We also want them fitting for our gender. So we specify.
Nowadays people write exactly what they are thinking about in a search engine and search engines have become (much) smarter in understanding our way of searching.
You type in “shoes for males 2019” will possibly still show you results for “shoes” but will also look into the other terms in your search query and try to find related content. If a page has the exact same search terms as you were typing, the search engine might actually provide that page as a result first.
The above image might explain it a little better, but let me try to explain it in detail.
Long Tail or DifficultToRankFor-HighSearchVolume-HighTraffic Keywords
The keywords on the left of the graph, are keywords that are receiving high levels of monthly search volume. These keywords are usually of a shorter nature, which is why people confuse the difference between long-tail and head keywords it with the length of the keyword. They are searched for a lot and in the world of advertising these keywords are expensive to buy advertising space for.
The keywords in the head section, the head keywords, are simply super popular keywords that are super difficult to rank for. As a big authority site you might have more of a chance, but it will still be difficult to enter into that segment.
Short Tail or EasierToRankFor-LowerSearchVolume-LowerTraffic Keywords
As of the earlier example of “shoes for males 2019”, we are talking about a way more descriptive way of having a keyword. If people are indeed searching for the “shoes for males 2019”, your content might be displayed first on the page, before whoever tried to rank for “shoes”.
These terms are usually longer in words, but that doesn’t have to be the case all the time. There are also short keywords that are defined long-tail because they are less popular.
Rather just see the term less popular as the main definer of long-tail keywords. As the keywords of this type are so descriptive, there are also way more (similar) variations to them.
Just to give you an example of a number of similar keywords that are less popular:
- shoes for crews for standing all day
- Comfortable Shoes for Work for Standing All Day
- chef Shoes for Work for Standing All Day
- most Comfortable Shoes for Work for Standing All Day
- best shoes for work for standing all day
- best shoes for nurses for standing all day
- comfortable dress shoes for women for standing all day
Yes, these keywords are less popular and will receive less traffic in the month when ranked for, but you got to remember that you can produce content for many similar easy-to-rank-for keywords here that all bring in a small amount of traffic.
First of all this small amount of traffic for each keyword is going to add-up for your total traffic. Secondary you will most likely also rank for keywords within the keyword you are trying to rank for.
Within the “shoes for males 2019” keyword, you may also be able to rank for “shoes for males” and perhaps even in “shoes” although, that is unlikely.
A better example is to take one of the above list:
You rank for “Comfortable shoes for work for standing all day” might also get you ranked for: “shoes for work for standing all day” and perhaps even for “shoes for work”.
How To Find Long Tail Keywords?
In a keyword tool, such as my favourite tool Jaaxy, less popular keywords are keywords with (Avg) monthly search volume of 250 or less. We often say that you should look at the QSR (quoted search results) rating when you try to rank for low-hanging-fruit keywords, but this rating gets unreliable when the AVG searches goes over 250.
Don’t measure by traffic at all, for that is an approximation of the number of clicks that a page 1 ranking article might receive and does not reflect reality. The AVG searches is based upon historic search data and can therefore be a more trustful metric.
With this method in mind, head keywords will naturally be the keywords that have very high AVG searches. Just keep in mind that when you see a keyword with over 250 (or let’s say an unrealistic 2000) searches and the QSR is very low, it is definitely a head keyword and not a long-tail keyword.
The QSR or KQI rating or “chance to rank page 1” rating for a keyword is still a measure to use for determining the best long-tail keyword. Try to stay under 100 QSR in Jaaxy to keep it easy to rank for. Personally I try to stay under 50 to make it a more certain achievement to rank the article. Multiple ranked posts with low search volume is going to give a lot of traffic in total.
Long-Tail Keyword Tools
Personally I prefer to see AVG searches and QSR quick and easy and that is only possible in Jaaxy. Most other tools found in other popular tools I see little use for. Jaaxy Pro comes at 59 USD a month, which is way cheaper than most tools out there (such as the all-famous SemRush) and offers all I ever need. They got a free version as well, so you can try Jaaxy For Free first!
You can use the Google Alphabet method to find good long-tail keywords, for it will show what people generally are searching for a lot related to the term you type into the search-field.
There are a couple of other great tools you can use to determine great keywords for your content:
Another way to look at what is popular or not, is by simply putting the keyword in Google and seeing who is trying to rank for that keyword.
With the Answer The Public website you can easily see related terms with that keyword you are searching for and often times these terms are long-tail keywords. Installing the keywords everywhere extension will give you results that are similar to the Google Search Tool (advertisement tool) that gives you estimated search volume per keyword as well as keyword cost.
If there are many popular and big authority websites in your niche rank for it, it is probably too difficult and hence a too popular keyword.
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