Long Story Short: What Is a Long-Tail SEO Strategy and Why It's More Important Than Your Head Keywords

fingers typing on keyboard with question marks hovering above

We named ourselves "First Page Strategy" for a reason — because we love to help bring brands to the first page of organic search results for their most important keywords. Sounds simple, but it takes a lot of work and a ton of — you guessed it — strategy to get there.

If you've been shopping around for agencies, you've probably heard them beating the drum about a strong SEO strategy. But ranking for keywords or phrases that matter to your business is no easy task. It's even harder when you have a new website or are new in your niche market since similar brands and competitors have already established keyword authority.

So, do you give up all hope of hitting the first page? Nope (at least, we hope not). There are a few tactics you can implement in your long-term SEO strategy that will position you for success as you work toward improving your SERP rank. One of the most critical? Focusing on long-tail SEO.

But first, the $64,000 question: why the heck does Google rank the way it does?

 

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Google Algorithms and SEO

We know Google has been prioritizing intent-based keywords for a long time now over other broad, head keywords that don't necessarily cater to a specific pain point. If you've been around this block a time or two, you might remember that years ago, if you were asked to focus on long-tail keywords with lower search volume, it was seen as not worth the investment. But today, long-tail keywords help support the exact search intent that users have when they start typing in Google. These keywords may be lower in search volume, but they're more targeted and meet a searcher's exact need. And focusing on them can really add up to significant traffic growth.

According to Think with Google, “The long tail could provide an untapped opportunity to connect with potential customers. Invest in these areas and see volumes grow."

More connection, higher volumes — sounds like a win, right? But if you don't have a long-tail keyword strategy in place, you won't get off the bench. Let's find out how you can start using long-tail keywords to achieve long-term growth.

 

So What Exactly Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are phrases that have very specific search intent but low volume and competition. They often contain three to five words, including the head/main keyword.

It's only natural for brands to go after the keywords that have massive search volume — you want to attract more traffic, right? Plus, head keywords are often flashy reputation-builders that you want your brand to be known for. But more than search volume, what really matters for conversion is the "search intent." How users conduct a search online has significantly changed over the past years, but that often gets overlooked while producing content — it misses the intent, and therefore, it misses the mark.

long-tail-seo-graph

Source

Since long-tail keywords have low search volume, they're frequently ignored or simply not prioritized. But in reality, these can have very high conversion rates since they target super-specific search queries that are driven by intent.

Yoast gives a very comprehensive example of what long-tail keywords are.

long tail keyword examples

Source

 

Why Focus on Long-Tail Keywords?

The number one reason to focus on long-tail keywords is that they are very intent-specific, leading you to attract exactly the visitor who would benefit from your product or service. This, in turn, leads to higher conversion. Some brands set their sights only on keywords with high search volume, but with high search volume often comes higher competition. Ranking is doable, but it can take longer and require significantly more effort — and you still may end up stuck on the 8th or 10th page. We can tell you from experience that no one is going to see you there.

However, what does move the needle is when you rank for low-volume keywords but on the first page of SERPs.

 

How to Incorporate Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content

Long-tail keywords have incredible potential, and when that's married with highly optimized and unique content, that's a ranking power combo! Not just any long-tail keyword will work, though; the term you want to rank for should be highly relevant for the product/service you're selling so your content contains the appropriate contextual signals for Google. It also should be a search intent for which you can provide valuable content. Can you answer the searcher's question or fulfill a need with your knowledge, product, or service offerings? If so, it's a good keyword to target!

It's also important to avoid stuffing lots of keywords with different search intent in one single blog post, ebook, or any other form of content. Content must be relevant and user-friendly so that searchers easily find the answers they're looking for. That means you need to create specific, unique content designed for different search intents.

So, how do you get started building a long-tail strategy?

1. Begin with the Buyer Persona

If you're going to match the search intent of your ideal persona, you'll first need to get that ideal persona right. If you don't understand your audience, you won't get their pain points and you won't know how they typically conduct a search online. Once you have the buyer personas carved out, you can then start aligning their pain points to the USP of your product/service and come up with a few search queries that could line up with what they're searching for.

A useful tip is to look in places where visitors ask a lot of questions, such as Quora and Reddit, or to review "People Also Ask" queries in Google for some of your head keywords to get some ideas. You should also consider how people search today and what kind of problem-solving opportunities these bring to you.

2. Select Your Top Long-Tail Keywords

Many SEO tools, like AHREFs or Semrush, include keyword research and brainstorming databases where you can type in the search queries you came up with above for each persona. These tools will show related long-tail phrases and searches and give you an idea of search volume. Remember that we're not going after the huge monthly search numbers for long-tail keywords — we want the highly specific and relevant questions people ask that relate to your product. Low search volume is okay!

Another good technique is to look at your competitors' keywords. Filter out the keywords with more than 5,000 searches a month and see what stands out. Are there opportunities here for you to write content that better meets the searcher's need than your competitors do?

You'll want to find long-tail keywords for each persona so you know you're serving the needs of all your audiences.

3. Create Content

The next step is to group your long-tail keywords by search intent and then create content that matches that search intent in a format that resonates with your buyer persona. Use multimedia, videos, stats, and unique storytelling to weave your content together while carefully inserting these long-tail keywords in a way that feels natural and fits the context. Always keep this question in mind: is this content clearly serving the needs of the person searching for this keyword?

4. Add an FAQ Section

If you're struggling to place long-tail keywords naturally or to create enough content around that search intent to warrant its own page, then it's a great idea to explore creating an FAQ section. If it's a landing page you're trying to work the keywords into, take your long-tail keywords and turn them into possible questions. To double-check, paste your questions in Google search to understand if it comes up in snippets. If it doesn't, then look at the "People Also Ask" section on the search results page and tweak your questions to how people would actually ask them. This is a great way of making sure you get to incorporate these keywords into your content the right way.

 

Final Thoughts — Going Back to Basics

Why would you create a long-tail keyword strategy in the first place? The real question is: why wouldn't you? A long-tail strategy targets traffic with high search intent. That is, traffic that converts. Even though it's not a guarantee that you'll rank for all your long-tail keywords with low search volume, it's worth investing some time and energy in potentially high-converting strategies rather than spending it all trying to rank for pie-in-the-sky, high-volume keywords.

If you want your brand to make it to the first page, look for an agency that makes that the focus (maybe even one that says it all in the name). At First Page, we work with companies like yours who are looking for reliable ways to grow their brands through incorporating long-tail SEO into their SEO strategy. Contact us to get started with an SEO strategy today that sticks.

 

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