Learn how to find and use long-tail keywords to grow your website traffic from the search engines with these detailed tactics using several SEO tools.
What is a long-tail keyword?
Some say long-tail keywords are those with low search volume.
Ahrefs researched 1.9 billion search queries and discovered that 92% of all keywords get 10 or fewer searches per month.
Others say that a long-tail keyword contains 3 or more words with low search volume.
From my own research, a long-tail keyword is a search query with a low search volume and contains 6 or more words.
Examples of long-tail searches
Here are a few examples of long-tail queries containing 7 or more words and less than 100 impressions per month (similar to searches)
How to find long-tail keywords
Here are 8 long-tail keyword research tools and strategies to find low-volume, low-competition keywords.
1. Google Autocomplete Suggestions
Start typing a keyword into the Google search field box and hit the space bar.
Google will suggest a long-tail variation.
When you find a relevant query, hit the space bar again.
This should provide you with a list of keywords to target the long tail.
2. Google Search Console – use regular expressions
Google Search Console provides the majority of queries that your website ranks for; going back 16 months.
So there’s a wealth of relevant keywords that you already rank for that you may be unaware of.
- Log in to Search Console
- Select your account
- Open the Performance Report
- Click +New
- Select Query
- From the queries containing dropdown, select Custom (regex)
- In the box copy and paste the code below
- Press Apply
This shows you all the keywords with 6 or more words you have ranked for in the past 16 months.
Make sure the 4 coloured metric boxes are selected.
You’ll see the clicks, impressions (searches), CTR and position of each query.
To show long-tail variations with 7 or more words, click the query box and change the digit in the formula to 7 or more.
Or you can replace the formula with the following:
This formula will filter the search phrases you rank for with question keywords.
Now bear in mind, the clicks and impressions are global averages for the past 3 months; adjust the country and date filters accordingly.
3. Competitor Keyword Gaps
Here’s how to use the content gap tool within Ahrefs to identity long-tail keyword ideas.
You can use the content gap tool to find out if your competitors rank for long-tail keyword opportunities that you don’t.
Enter your website into Ahrefs Site Explorer
- Click Content Gap
- Enter up to 10 competing domains in the blank boxes
- Press Show Keywords
- Select Country
- Filter by Keyword Difficulty eg: 0-30
- Word Count > 3
- Add Include Words such as your service or product
- Add Exclude Words
4. Keyword Explorer
Go to Ahrefs.
Enter a seed keyword into Keyword Explorer.
In the word count box, enter the number 4 in the number box, press apply.
Since Ahrefs has such a huge keyword database, this tactic can uncover hundreds of thousands of topical long-tail keywords.
5. Use keyword modifiers
Use any keyword research tool to filter the main keyword with the following keyword modifiers.
Problem stage modifiers
how, what, and, for, with, where, when, for, with, and, issue, fix, improve, increase, reduce, remove, lower, grow
Information stage modifiers
example, guide, learn, tutorial, video, calculator, best, top, bespoke, service, color, colour
(include your own product, brand, service name, category words)
Evaluation of alternatives keyword modifiers
review, compare, comparison, vs, versus, alternative, similar
Purchase decision stage modifiers
Buy, nearest, cheap, dimensions, size, shop, store, discount, coupon, deal, sale, ebay, amazon, offer
These keyword modifiers will help to identify:
- popular questions
- informational searches
- comparison keywords
- commercial intent keywords
and other keywords at each stage of the buying cycle or funnel.
6. Use a free keyword tool like Keyword Surfer
Go to Google Chrome Store and install Keyword Surfer; a free keyword research tool.
Now Google your keyword, hit the spacebar and enter the letter “a”,
then type “b” and so on.
You’ll see the estimated search volume for each query.
Jot down the relevant ones or store them in the Keyword Surfer clipboard and export them when you’ve done all your research.
Try entering “how to” before the keyword you’ve already entered.
Or try adding “for” after the keyword.
7. SEO Minion
- Enter a seed keyword in Google.
- Select PAA 4 Levels.
- Press Go
Click and View the PAA tree.
I have an advanced tutorial that shows you how to identify the traffic for people also asked queries.
8. Get in the mind of your target audience
My core service is keyword research and I use the paid version of Ahrefs to help me do client work.
I saw a post on LinkedIn where some of my target audience was promoting a new free tool.
I felt threatened by the free proposition of this tool so I decided to test it out.
And without doing any keyword research at all, I produced an article comparing these two services.
The organic traffic for my article averages 275 visits per month for a keyword that doesn’t even show up in most keyword research tools.
How to use long-tail keywords
After you have identified search terms with relevant search intent, there are 4 ways to use these long-tail search keywords.
1. Create a unique page targeting the query
If you’re currently not ranking for the query, then you should could a new web page and write a new piece of content to target the query.
2. Create an H2 section on your page dedicated to queries
If you are already ranking for the query, then upgrade the page that’s currently ranking for the keyword.
Let’s say you’re in position 50, simply because you’ve mentioned the keyword on a page.
You can create a new H2 header on the page and write a specific answer or relevant content about the query.
3. Rewrite poorly ranked pages
According to Frase Content Analytics, my page about website content is unranked; it’s poorly ranked and every keyword is in a high position.
I have nothing to lose by rewriting this page.
Look at the title of the page :
I have failed miserably in targeting the head term “website content“.
However, if you look at the longer variations of this keyword you can see :
A 50% CTR would result in 88 clicks; against the zero clicks, I currently receive.
Now imagine I followed this content optimization approach for another 10 unranked pages.
4. Target parent topic with low competition
My preferred approach is to target a parent topic where there are hundreds of child keywords.
For example, when I was researching an accountancy website I chose the parent topic of “capital gains tax“.
The research identified that the top pages ranked for hundreds and thousands of other search queries.
The brief sent to the writer contained instructions to include sections and questions such as :
- avoiding capital gains tax on property
- reducing capital gains tax when selling a property
And so the page ranks on page 1 in an extremely competitive market.
The value and benefits of long-tail searches
There are 4 benefits in targeting long-tail keywords :
1. Great SEO strategy for new or low authority websites
It’s easy for less experienced SEO practitioners to be seduced by high-volume keywords or to target keywords with high monthly search volume.
But when you’re a new kid on the block or you have a website that doesn’t have much authority, then targeting very broad keywords isn’t the smart move.
Targeting popular keywords takes too long to rank.
2. People search this way
The Ahrefs study I mentioned earlier is enough evidence to show that is how people use search engines.
3. Better click-through rates
Advanced Web Ranking have studies of millions of keywords and from thousands of websites that show the long tail will generate a higher click-through rate than the short-tail keyword.
4. Better conversion rates
According to old research, long-tail keywords have a 2.5 times higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords.
Why do long-tail keywords convert better?
Because they provide more contextually related results.
When someone types into Google what they want, it shows them exactly what they need.
They don’t see as many Google Ads or articles that aren’t useful to their needs.
So if you’re looking to increase conversions, then make sure your site provides valuable information to users who type in those long-tail keywords.
You learned about the benefits of long-tail search, how to find these opportunities and use them on your web pages.
There’s no shame in having a page or content that isn’t ranking well; if it ain’t working, fix it.
So that’s long-tail keywords, what about short tails keywords?