Search Engine Marketing – A Primer to Move Forward With Long Tail Keywords



Long-tail keywords can help even smaller, newer websites “steal” traffic from the big, established players. All it takes is smart keyword research and content creation.

So here’s an overview of the what, why and how of long tail keywords.


Keyword phrases that typically contain 3 to 4 words or more are called long tail keywords. They tend to show a more specific search intention on the part of the researcher, narrowing the results down to the most appropriate ones.

These keywords are less general than the keywords of 1 to 2 words (AKA “seed” or “head”) and have a lower search frequency (i.e. they are less used in researches). So the traffic resulting from these long tail search terms is relatively less than for general keywords, but this traffic is more targeted, with much higher chances of conversion.

Here is an example of main keyword and long tail keywords / phrases:

  1. reebok shoes
  2. Reebok black running shoes
  3. Price of black Reebok marathon running shoes

The intent of the first keyword is unclear: a researcher may simply want to check out the official Reebok website. However, the third, a long tail keyword phrase, displays more specific search intent and most likely purchase intent.


The logical advantages behind long tail keyword targeting are clear:

  • They are much easier to classify than more general terms relating to your industry.
  • They provide much more targeted traffic which has a better chance of converting.
  • They give you the ability to steal traffic from the gigantic and established websites that govern all the general high frequency search terms in your industry.

Search terms can be divided into informational and commercial. Technically, they can be of many more types, but let’s go for now with these two broad categories:

The first column contains a list of terms that users search for, more often than not, simply to obtain information without carrying out any commercial transaction; the second displays a “More commercial spirit”, with a very probable purchase intention.

When performing keyword research (as explained in the next section), you will come across both types.

While ranking for informational keywords is fine and helps develop and establish your authority in the matter, business keywords are where the money is. So, depending on your industry and your target audience, make a wise choice, possibly targeting a mix of both.

Another factor generally considered to be true is that when using PPC advertising, long tail keywords are cheaper. While this is not always the case, it very often is. So consider the cost versus return when planning your PPC campaign.

Keep in mind that attracting attention and repeatedly bidding on a particular long tail can eventually make it more popular and increase the bid price in the long run.

How? ‘Or’ What

The first step is keyword research. Determining the most suitable long-tail keywords to target will be the very foundation of your marketing efforts.

There are several ways to do this research.

Google Suggest

Check your Google Analytics to see which keywords are sending you traffic. List these specific phrases, then type them into the Google search box.

Google Suggest will display a list of suggested search terms based on other users’ searches. Use them to determine the long tail forms of your main keywords that you can use in your marketing strategies.

Google related keywords

Search for your primary keyword, then check out the related searches section at the bottom of your Google search results page.

The keyword phrase list, always based on other users’ search frequencies and including synonyms, should give you plenty of long tail keyword ideas that are worth targeting.

Google Keyword Planner

Start with your seed or head keyword, whichever is most relevant to your industry. To proceed to Google Keyword Planner, enter your seed or head keyword and click Get ideas. Then click on the Keyword Ideas tab to check the suggested keywords according to your main keyword.

Find a list of relevant, similar keyword phrases related to your start term with additional search frequency and competitive data. Pick and choose the ones that are right for your website or business.

Other useful tools

  • 7research: A great free tool to refine your long tail keyword research. Includes PPC research and auctions.
  • HitTail: This one isn’t free, but if you’re a blogger who wants to post a review on HitTail, you can get a one-year subscription to the free Pro Plan.
  • Ubersuggest: This one is free and extremely convenient with an extensive list sorted alphabetically.
  • The free version does not provide data on search volume, CPC, and AdWords competition, but it is still useful for getting keyword ideas.

The next step

Now create some content to incorporate your chosen keywords. Use them in titles, bullets, headings, and body text, but don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing can be counterproductive, causing more harm than good. Keep keyword frequency below 1%.

Frame your content to include keyphrases seamlessly without sounding forced, so you don’t compromise the reader’s experience. Think about what useful information the reader would expect to find, then provide it and more.

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What you should not do

  • Don’t be greedy and don’t stuff keywords on a page.
  • Don’t use long-tail keywords verbatim in your content if they don’t make grammatical sense (eg, “cheap plumber repairer Cleveland Ohio”).
  • Don’t compromise on user experience.
  • Don’t overlook synonyms. Use them to avoid keyword stuffing and improve rankings.
  • Don’t obsess over rankings and continue to indulge in questionable practices.
  • Don’t let Google’s algorithm updates worry you. If you create content with user experience in mind, you’ll come out on top.



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