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Long-Tail Keywords: 10 Reasons to Use Them for Your SEO Campaign

| Posted in category Keyword Research

a long tailKeywords can be short-tail or long-tail. Short-tail keywords are shorter phrases that have generic meaning, for example, "men's shoes". They are also sometimes referred to as head words. While long-tail keyword phrases are longer, more specific search terms that better describe a particular thing or concept, for instance, "cheap gucci men's shoes". There is no distinct point at which a short-tail keyword phrase becomes long-tail - it's all relative. So, one and the same search term can be said to be long- or short-tail, depending on what other term you compare it with.

SEO newbies are often unfamiliar with the concept of long-tail keywords and do not realize the immense potential these keywords hold. Once they find out how long-tail terms can virtually transform one's online business, they are a bit shocked they haven't discovered this earlier ;).

Actually, there is nothing complicated about the art of using long-tails to your advantage. It's just that one should have a good understanding of how they benefit SEO. There are many good reasons to tap into long-tail keywords' hidden capabilities, these being...

1. Less competition

Competition volume for keyword research

Let us consider the following key phrases:

men's shoes – 42,800,000 matches found on Google

designer men's shoes – 13,500,000 matches found on Google

italian designer men's shoes discount – 4,710,000 matches found on Google

italian designer men's shoes – 2,200,000 matches found on Google.

As we see, the longer the phrase, the fewer sites match it, i.e. the less competitive it is. Therefore, long-tails are generally easier to rank high for. So, instead of working your fingers to the bone trying to rank number 20 for designer men's shoes, why not optimize a page for italian designer men's shoes or french designer men’s shoes. Could be much easier to get into the top 10, huh?

2.  Substantial traffic

A single long-tail key term is not likely to get you tons of visitors. However, en mass, long-tails can work miracles. Think about a big bubble surrounded by hundreds of smaller bubbles.

Short tail Long tail Infographics

So, the big bubble is your main short-tail keywords, for example, mens shoes, designer shoes, etc. Now, there are many ways to extend those nuclear head words into long-tail keywords. And, together, all these alternatives may account for up to 35% percent (or even more) of your overall traffic!

3. Better targeted traffic

When the police ask someone to describe a robber, they hope to get as many details as possible, since this will help them catch the right person. Same goes for keywords: the better a phrase describes what you are looking for, the higher the chances that you will find just the product or service you need. Thus, visitors who end up on your site after typing in long-tail keyword phrases are likely to be just the people you are targeting.

4. Higher conversion rates

Users who search for more specific terms are normally further in their buying cycle than searchers who type in generic terms. So, normally, long-tails bring in visitors who convert better. So, investing in long-tail keywords is often a dead sure ROI (Return On Investment) and a winning "quality over quantity" strategy.

5.  Long-tails already include your head words

Another reason why it never hurts to bid on long-tail keywords is that, mostly, they already include your shorter nuclear terms. For example, italian designer men’s shoes contains designer men’s shoes, while designer men's shoes has men's shoes in it. This sort of allows you to kill two birds with one stone.

6. Great for highly competitive niches

In some fields competition is so fierce that, when you get to the top of the SERPs, you are afraid to look down, because there you will see the swarming mass of competitors, ready to overthrow you at any moment. A good way out to feel more safe about your traffic would be to look for alternative keywords to optimize for, that is, long-tail search terms.

For example, you own a small inn in New York City. I can see some of you smiling now. :) How do you compete on Google with all those Trumps, Hiltons, Marriot Marquis' and Sheratons out there? Here is how - you don't worry about ranking number one for hotels new york, since this term has 482,000,000 (nearly half a billion!) websites bidding on it. What you do is you optimize your site for cheap hotel new york, which doesn't sound so different, but it makes all the difference for you, since there are only 11,700,000 sites competing for this term on Google, thus, your chances are much higher.

7. Long-tails beat personalization

Nowadays search results are getting more and more personalized, that is, custom-tailored to a particular user’s geographical location, age, sex, interests, etc. People looking for one and the same keyword may see very different search results. But, luckily, long-tail keywords can help you optimize your website for different categories of users, since long-tails are more specific. For example you can have a separate landing page for designer men’s shoes, and a separate webpage for designer women’s shoes. So, in order to minimize the negative effect personalization may have on your SEO, use more long-tail search terms for your SEO campaign.

8. Perfect for PPC

Many Internet marketers agree that PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising should be mostly long-tail. And here is why. In PPC, you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. If you bid on non-specific, very general terms you'll have lower click-through rates and lower conversions. Thus, a lot of money will be wasted on ill-targeted traffic. But, if you bid on more specific phrases that better describe what you sell or offer, you are likely to attract just the right visitors to your site, and your PPC campaign will pay off sooner.

9. Ideas come straight from Google Analytics

Sometimes long-tail keyword ideas may come straight from Google Analytics or some other Web analytics tool you are using. Besides, in Google Analytics you already see how many people came to your site by looking up a particular term, whether they converted or not - all that stuff. Yet another reason to put long-tails on your keyword list!

10. Easier to optimize for

It is easier to perform the actual on-page optimization if you are optimizing for long-tail keywords. This is because, first of all, you don't need so many of them on the page. Second, a couple of long-tails look more natural in your site copy than do scores of short-tail terms. This provides a better user experience, and, again, helps conversions.

So, as you see, there are many reasons to optimize your site for long-tail keywords. The mistake some SEO starters make is they just overlook long-tail search terms altogether, and miss out on some really great SEO opportunities. But, hopefully, this will not happen to you, since now you know where the power of the long-tail lies ;).

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