Find and use Long Tail Keywords to boost traffic

Written By Fraser McCulloch

Traditional marketer specialising in keyword research, SEO content plans, and content briefs. Has-been Scottish golfer. 

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 research, a long-tail keyword is a search query with a low search volume and contains 6 or more words.

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

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 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
  1. From the queries containing dropdown, select Custom (regex)
  2. In the box copy and paste the code below 
  3. Press Apply
([^” “]*\s){5,}?

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:  

^(who|what|where|when|why|how|was|did|is|are|could|should|if|does)[” “]

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. 

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

3. Competitor Keyword Gaps

Here’s how to use the content gap tool within Ahrefs to identify long-tail keyword ideas.

You can use the content gap tool to determine if your competitors rank for long-tail keyword opportunities that you don’t.

Enter your website into Ahrefs Site Explorer

  1. Click Content Gap
  2. Enter up to 10 competing domains in the blank boxes
  3. Press Show Keywords
  1. Select Country
  2. Filter by Keyword Difficulty eg: 0-30
  3. Word Count > 3
  4. Add Include Words such as your service or product
  5. Add Exclude Words
Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

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 colossal 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 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.

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

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

  1. Enter a seed keyword in Google.
  2. Select PAA 4 Levels.
  3. Press Go

Click and View the PAA tree.

I have an advanced tutorial that shows you how to identify the traffic for people who also asked queries

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

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 promoted 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, 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 identifying 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, 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, upgrade the page currently ranking for the keyword.

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.

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords

4. Target parent topic with low competition

My preferred approach is to target a parent topic with hundreds of child keywords.

For example, when 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 a highly 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

Less experienced SEO practitioners are seduced by high-volume or target keywords with high monthly search volume.

But targeting very broad keywords isn’t the smart move when you’re a new kid on the block or have a website that doesn’t have much authority.

Targeting popular keywords takes too long to rank.

2. People search this way

The Ahrefs study I mentioned earlier is enough evidence to show how people use search engines.

3. Better click-through rates

Advanced Web Ranking has 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?

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, make sure your site provides valuable information to users who type in those long-tail keywords.

Download : How to Find and Use Long Tail Keywords


You learned about the benefits of long-tail search, finding these opportunities, and using them on your web pages.

There’s no shame in having a page or content that isn’t ranking well; fix it if it isn’t working.

So that’s long-tail keywords; what about short tails keywords?