Long-Tail Keywords: Why They Matter in Content Marketing

You’ve spent hours – nay, months upon months – researching keywords with hopes of improving your content marketing strategy, but you’re still not seeing results. If this sounds like you, then maybe you haven’t been focused on finding the right kind of keywords for your SEO strategy. 

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What? There are different kinds of keywords!

Yep, that’s right, and some happen to be better than others. If you haven’t heard of long-tail keywords or if you think they have something to do with actual tails or length, then the following information will do you and your content marketing strategy a world of tail-wagging good. 

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

When content marketers first encounter the term, long-tail keyword, many automatically think it refers to the length of a keyword phrase (and sometimes flowing animal tails). For example, the difference between “zoo baby” and “zoo baby feeding time in San Diego, CA,” with the longer phrase being the long-tail keyword. However, that’s not exactly accurate because long-tail doesn’t refer to the number of words in a keyword.

If they aren’t rambling keyword phrases, then exactly what are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are keywords that have a fairly low search volume and are located in the long tail of a distribution graph. So, instead of referring to the length of the keyword phrase, “long-tail” refers to the tail of a standard distribution graph. 

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If plotted by search volume, long-tail keywords reside in the shaded area to the right where the search volume is low.

Long-tail keyword phrases are those that have a lower search volume than others. So, despite its length, “zoo baby feeding times in San Diego, CA” may or may not be a long-tail keyword phrase, depending on how many people are searching it (hopefully everyone who lives in or visits San Diego). 

Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Important for SEO

It’s a fact that long-tail keywords aren’t as commonly searched, and many content marketers automatically find this off-putting. Why would you focus your SEO strategy on keywords that fewer people are searching for? Isn’t the purpose of content marketing to reach as many people with your brand message as possible? How could less-popular keywords help you reach more people?

Cut the Competition and Rank Higher

Millions of companies and brands are selling footwear. So, if you focus on the highly popular short-tail keyword, footwear, your website could wind up ranking 1,000,000th or worse. (Someone has to be last, right?) This could happen without any reflection on your brand because you’re killing it when it comes to quality, style, value, prices, and customer service. You’re just not killing it when it comes to SEO strategy in content marketing. 

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What happens when you only include high-volume keywords in your SEO strategy? You’ll struggle to break through with a high ranking. 

Using less commonly searched (aka less competitive keywords) in your SEO strategy could actually help you reach more people with a higher page ranking. These less-popular keywords and keyword phrases are not nearly as competitive as regular keywords when it comes to ranking, which gives you a better chance of showing up on the first page of search results. 

Reach the Right Audience and Boost Conversions with Greater Specificity

With long-tail keywords, your content will also be more likely to reach the right people. In addition to being less competitive, long-tail keywords also tend to have higher conversion rates because they’re usually fairly specific.

For example, if someone searches for “salted butter,” you don’t really know what they’re looking for. Are they trying to purchase salted butter, do they want to know how salted butter is made, or are they looking for nutrition facts on salted butter? If you have a baking blog, and you’re trying to rank with the term “salted butter,” then you’ll be competing with all these other pages. If your baking blog, however, focuses on ranking with the long-tail keyword phrase “recipes with salted butter,” then people who have a fridge full of salted butter and a knack for baking will be much more likely to find your content. 

Built-In Voice Search

Many long-tail keyword phrases are simply made for semantic search. When your potential customers ask Siri where they can find the best ice cream in Apalachicola, her response will be specific, accurate, and hopefully include your business. 

Reduce Digital Marketing Costs

Saving money is a no-brainer, and long-tail keyword phrases are much less expensive per click than their more popular counterparts. Cha-ching!

Discover How to Find Long-Tail Keywords for Your Content Strategy

Now that you know what they are and why they should be an essential component of your SEO strategy, you need to know how to find long-tail keywords. The best place to start is to see which long-tail keywords you’re already ranking with. Research your website, pay per click campaigns, and social media analytics to determine which long-tail keywords customers are using to find you. Add these to your new long-tail keyword list and focus on incorporating more of these in your content. 

You can also come up with long-tail keywords manually by starting with seed keywords and growing them. Your seed words will be the very basics that you provide such as footwear, pet supplies, or take-out. Type these into Google’s search bar and see which longer search terms Google autocomplete suggests. Add these to your list, increase specificity, and add the long-tail phrases to your list. 

You can also go for a more automated approach by using long-tail keyword research tools. These will help you come up with additional unpopular keyword phrases. (It’s never been cooler to be so uncool!)  

Nifty Long-Tail Keyword Research Tools

  • WordStream also offers a free keyword research tool that users can use to find long-tail keywords. You’ll immediately receive a list of the 10 most popular keywords. Provide your email, and they’ll send you a free list containing all the keywords, including the less popular long-tail keyword phrases. 
  • Another great (free) keyword research tool that will allow you to analyze keyword phrases based on popularity is Moz
  • Neil Patel’s UberSuggest keyword research tool is two things I love: free and easy to use. In addition to helping you come up with a long-tail keyword strategy, UberSuggest will also help you brainstorm new topic ideas, research backlinks, and look in on what your competition has been up to. You can also check out Neil’s list of long-tail keyword tools

Implement Your New Long-Tail Strategy and Watch Your Tail Start to Wag

Once you have a list of long-tail keywords, you can set about implementing them in your content strategy. Set aside the time to revisit and update old content with relevant long-tail keywords from your list. Generate content topics based on the long-tail keywords you’ve selected and be sure to provide your new keyword list to your creative team of writers and content strategists. Ask them to focus on including long-tail keywords in the titles, subheadings, and backlinks within your content. 

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What are you waiting for? Start wagging your content marketing tail with a new long-tail keyword strategy!

After incorporating a long-tail keyword component into your content marketing strategy, you’ll see your SEO improve, search ranking skyrocket, and experience conversions like never before – all for the bargain price of a few unpopular keyword phrases. 


Jennifer G WriterAccess

A full-time freelance writer and editor, Jennifer G. believes that understanding each client’s unique business, brand, voice, passions, and goals is the true challenge of content creation. With every new client and project, she loves diving in, getting acquainted, and developing long-lasting relationships. Jennifer is also the author of our weekly content marketing trends report that hits the blog each Friday.


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