How to Find Long Tail Keywords for SEO

How to Find Long Tail Keywords

If you’re looking for ways on how to find long tail keywords, you’re probably already aware of how they differ from generic (or “head”) keywords. In a nutshell, long tail keywords are search phrases that typically consist of 3+ words and feature the following qualities:

– Have low SEO competition (which makes it easier to get into the Top 10 of search engine results pages).
– Are highly specific to certain niches (hence, can bring you highly qualified visitors that are very likely to convert to your customers/readers/followers).
– Have lower search volume compared to generic 1- or 2-word keywords. (However, in every niche there may be only a few of generic “head keywords”. While there are usually hundreds of long tail keyword variations, which, when added up, can potentially generate a decent volume of relevant traffic for your website.)

If you’re still not sure whether long tail SEO is the right strategy for promoting your website or blog, I highly encourage you to read this article first.

In this post I’m going to provide you with a plain-English guide on how to find long tail keywords. To make it as practical as possible, I divided the guide into 2 chapters:

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Long Tail Keyword Examples

Long Tail Keyword Examples

Let’s face it – the Internet is flooded with tons of articles claiming numerous benefits you can potentially get when targeting long tail keywords. But what those articles lack most of the time is real-world, practical examples that can give you a clear idea of what long tail keywords actually are and how you can apply them in your SEO strategy.

In this post we’re going to fix this omission and give you long tail keyword examples taken from real-world case studies. But before we continue, I just want to quickly remind you what long tail SEO is all about (feel free to skip this chapter and head over straight to the example #1 if you are already well-familiar with the theory).

Definition: long tail keywords are search phrases that are highly relevant to your specific niche, product, service or topic, have low competition level, comparatively low search volume and, generally, consist of 3+ words.

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The Hidden Value of Long Tail SEO

Long tail SEO is a lesser-known, yet incredibly powerful technique for building up organic search traffic for your business. Numerous studies suggest that long tail keywords are easier to rank for, bring in more combined traffic, and convert more visitors to customers, as compared to "head" keywords. In this article we're going to discover in detail what long tail SEO is and whether you should use this technique as a part of your keyword strategy.

What Is Long Tail SEO?

To answer this question, let's first dig deeper into different keyword targeting strategies.

When researching keywords, most SEOs consider the following three core keyword qualities (you should consider them too!):

Search volume – the average number of times people have searched for a given keyword during a specified period. Naturally, the larger the search volume a keyword has, the more visitors you can potentially bring to your website by targeting this keyword.

Competition – how easy/hard it is to outrank competitors with a given keyword.

Relevance – the more relevant to your specific product, service, or website topic a keyword is, the more likely it is that visitors who've found your website with this keyword will actually convert to paying customers.

Early SEO adopters (at the beginning of the Internet) were focused on targeting keywords that have high search volume. There wasn't much competition those days, making it relatively easy to get into the Top 10 of the search engine results page (SERP) virtually with any keyword.

Relevance wasn't of a much concern either due to large traffic volumes. For example, when you're in the Top 10 with a keyword that has over 100,000 searches per month, and your website's CTR (click-through-rate) for this keyword is only around 3%, you still get as much as 3,000 visits per month (100,000*3%). And if you are in the Top 3 with this same keyword, your website's CTR may rise up to 30%, meaning you will be receiving around 30,000 visitors per month from a single keyword! Chances are that some of the visitors will actually find what they are looking for on your website and become your customers.

But things have changed since those days. According to Netcraft's March 2016 Web Server Survey the total number of sites across the Internet has reached more than a billion (1,003,887,790). Compare this to only 603,367 sites that have been registered in the late 1996:

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What The Heck Is Semantic SEO & Should You Care At All?

I predict that, after the first few opening paragraphs, you’ll feel like you’re on drugs. This will be a mind-expanding exercise that will leave you dazed and confused. But we’ll try to make as much sense of this as we can.

Semantic SEO

Before we can even begin to talk about Semantic SEO, we need to first understand what we mean by “semantics” and what the “semantic web” actually is.

If you want to get a bit technical about it (and I’m sure you love technicalities; you work with SEO after all), semantics has a general definition:

se·man·tics [si-man-tiks]

noun

  1. The branch of linguistics that deals with the study of meaning, changes in meaning, and the principles that govern the relationship between sentences or words and their meanings
  2. The study of the relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent
  3. Logic:
    • the study of interpretations of a formal theory
    • the study of the relationship between the structure of a theory and its subject matter
    • (of a formal theory) the principles that determine the truth or falsehood of sentences within the theory, and the references of its terms

Source: Dictionary.com

So, it’s concerned with meaning. That includes concepts like sense, reference, implication, lexical semantics, which is concerned about meanings, word relations, and conceptual semantics.

Are You Confused Yet? Good, Me Too…

Confused About Semantics

Here’s the point: this grand, large-scale mess we call the internet and the web has been evolving towards a semantic “shape” with the information you can find. That is, the natural ordering and logic of information is taking on a semantic purpose and role, more so than what the web looked like, say, 5 years ago.

So, Google is not just about simply discovering information any more — it’s about ordering the web into a coherent flow of information; how topics, themes, ideas, text, video, audio — all of it — is connected and relate to each other.

A part of this are such small things like structured data markup, Schema.org, Google Knowledge Graph, Bing Snapshots, and Facebook Open Graph Protocol.

The idea of the “Semantic Web” will, naturally, affect us SEOers and shift the ground towards “Semantic SEO”.

This is ultimately why SEO will never really die; it will just change, continually.

But, a caveat: semantic web is NOT the same as semantic SEO.

On-site SEO, for example, is all about ordering information (site structure, headlines, text, layout, links) to the point where visitors and search engines find it valuable enough to send it to the top of first page results. Then again, there are always loopholes and flaws, which is why a lot of “questionable” tactics still work. But that’s a side-note for now.

It’s all about making sense, making meaning out of the barrage of information that is created and shared every minute of every day, non-stop. That’s what Google is all about: organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

So, as the web is becoming more semantic, that naturally extends to our SEO efforts.

Now, Why On Earth Should You Care About Semantic SEO?

Glad you asked. Let’s see what we can make of it all.

This is where the web and search is headed, so by virtue if you wanting to keep doing what you’re doing, that’s a good reason. This type of search understands the intent of the searcher and what the query means, rather than going through the keywords such as a dictionary would.

SEO Semantic and Semantic Web Concepts

Right now, it’s like a search engine giving you its best guess, based solely on the keywords and text you enter into the search box. But with semantic SEO, search engines will dive into the relationship between the words you enter, how they are working together, and then try to understand what the words mean.

Google can understand that there are two different meanings between they’re and their, and when New and York are put together, that the meaning changes. It’s more about natural language, as opposed to keywords.

The Future Is Already Happening, Can You See It?

Why do you think Google gives you the option to verbally search? They’re collecting a crapload of data on natural voice and speech. Google Glass, for example, is primarily voice-operated.

So, semantic search (and by extension, how SEO needs to work), takes into account the context, plus the meaning of your search query. Before, it was just the anchor text and links associated with each other which Google bots used to understand the contents of a page. But now the bots have a chance to view all of the content around the link to come to a better conclusion.

Supporting terms are looked at – This will included modifiers, synonyms, and so on.

Related terms are used in places such as your subtitle tags, title, content, meta, and more.

Does This Change Anything For SEO Right Now?

It is important to keep in mind that the other SEO strategies you’ve been using are still relevant, and they shouldn’t be thrown away so you can focus on semantic SEO. It is just one thing which Google looks at when it is ranking a site, so keeping your other efforts in place is a good idea — for now.

Although keywords are simple to change around, intent is not. So to be able to rank well with a semantic search, you not only have to put your keywords in the correct places, but you have to figure out what the actual meaning is behind the keywords and make content around this specifically.

Whenever someone searches for something, they are often looking to answer a question and sometimes are searching with the abbreviated version of the question.

Keyword research is mainly driven around data on how popular the terms in their question are.

In a semantic search, keyword research will have to focus on the meaning of what the person is actually searching for in the keyword.

How on earth this will actually play out in real-life remains to be seen. The distinctions can seem meaningless, too, as they’re a bit granular. When you are framing your content with semantic SEO, it will have to be around answering the specific questions that people have as they relate to the keyword.

With each sentence you write, you have to consider how it answers the searcher’s question. You need to focus on the natural language, even if the users are concentrating on the keywords still.

Meet The New Keyword Research: Semantic Mapping

SEO Semantics - Word Classes

Semantic mapping is:

a strategy for graphically representing concepts by constructing a semantic map. In the literacy context, a semantic map is a graphical model designed to help students identify important ideas and how these ideas fit together in a text.

You’re already using something similar: long-tail keywords.

Talk about going after related terms and phrases, right?

Semantic maps simply enable the target search term or phrase to be placed at the “center” of the map. All other related and supporting terms function to help search bots “make sense” of the document.

You can quickly summarize some of the benefits this approach results in, but it’s not all about SEO, however:

  • Advertisement: better targeted ads, more personalized delivery.
  • Product Search: find the right product more quickly; less time spent browsing through a deluge of product listings.
  • Information Flow: more effective and productive by minimizing any “intermediaries” between the searcher and the information he or she is looking for.

Keep Your Eyes On Latent Semantic Indexing Tools

Aside from your usual collection of synonyms and apps like Ubersuggest, this one is highly relevant to your SEO interests:

LSI Keyword Generator — used in finding semantically relevant keywords and phrases (the abbreviation LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing). This tool gives the user an option of eliminating some words from the results, too.

Quickly, What Does This All Mean?

Well, basically this: you’ll see sites rank in search results that aren’t clearly optimized for specific search queries or that may not have “traditionally” strong SEO signals, like link profiles with exact or partial-match anchor text. Take a look at this quote search:

Google Semantic SEO

It’s a very generic quote when you look at it, and it shows up on over a million websites, but Google figured out it most likely refers to a quote from the TV show Knight Rider. If you want to read more about citations, occurrences and references across websites, read about links and social graphs here.

A factor of the semantic web and SEO are citations and mentions of the same “entity” across several other documents.

Immediate Take Away For Your SEO Activities

Let’s wrap this up, as much as possible, shall we?

In short: what are some takeaways of all this that will matter for your SEO?

  • Implement structured data markup/schema as much as possible, no matter what kind of website you’re trying to rank.
  • Ever heard of RDF? You should, and pay attention to the concept of “triples”. They allow you to not just describe relationships between two things, but also map the relationship between other statements about those things.
  • Think semantically. What are related topics, themes, ideas, concepts that you can use to help search engines understand and rank your website better?
  • Citations and references from relevant websites. This would be useful for link building; don’t get links from websites that have nothing to do with yours. If you try to rank a site for selling cat food, why on earth do you want a link from a site that’s all about cleaning bathrooms? Hint: you don’t.
  • Do yourself a favor: know what JSON-LD is. It’s all about linking data. Yes, you do want to at least understand it at a glance.

Makes a little more sense now, yes? [editors note: Wha, What? ;)]

Chime in if you have any other quick tips for implementing the concept of semantic Search Engine Optimization!

Long Tail Keyword

At yesterday’s SEO Super Power Meetup, one of the original beta testers simultaneously praised us for how well HitTail worked, and challenged me on why it works, and why he should trust the suggestions.

The answer needs to be qualified: don’t take HitTail suggestions blindly! They have to make sense in the context of your site. But they pretty much always do work. In other words, if you take a suggestion issued by HitTail and put it into the Title field of a new blog post, you’re pretty much assured to grab the first page on that term, and generate new qualified traffic.

And it takes something of a leap of faith to understand why–and how we’re able to do this at such a low-cost and in real time. We understand that there are other products that give you thousands, or tens-of-thousands of keywords at a single go. But they’re much more expensive, and such long lists are mostly suitable for pay-per-click campaigns. But as far as getting writing ideas, lists like that just aren’t as good as HitTail.

Why?

A suggestion issued by HitTail means that someone JUST found you on that term, but not on the first couple of pages of results.

So, what does this tell you?

1. You CAN be found on this term.
2. There is at least SOME traffic there.
3. There’s a bunch of results ahead of you on that term which for some reason didn’t satisfy the searcher.

And these three truths make a HitTail suggestion the best sort of long tail keyword. It’s active. You’re already associated with it. And sites higher in the results are not satisfying users.

BAM! You have the top position on that term.

It might only amount to 50 visits on that term in the course of an entire year. But that’s 50 visits you would probably not have gotten otherwise. And it’s traffic on fairly specific, and therefore, uniquely pre-qualified potential customers (prospects).

And of course, if you keep this up over time with many HitTail suggestions, the effect accumulates, and results in compounding returns. The idea is that you’re going for complete dominance in your particular market niche, following the most logical, and immediately rewarding path, from a quality-content-expansion point-of-view.

Spread the word!

Long tail keyword research

HitTail has long been referred to as one of the tools for long tail keyword research. But on searching the term, I did not see it on the first page of results. Just about every entry on page one of the Google results was a HitTail review. But the site itself was oddly missing.

Here, we notice another HitTail issue. It’s based on long tail keyword “actuals”. Just because a word combination CAN lead to a site, doesn’t mean it ever will. As it turns out, the HitTail site is currently found eight pages in. But that happenstance surf, click, suggestion will never occur, because too many prior pages are good candidates to the curious searcher.

What can we conclude? Well, HitTail is uniquely suited to spaces where all the prior pages are unappealing, and they STILL find you. This is why it’s SO EASY to pick up the traffic from a HitTail suggestion. The implication is that not only is it a keyword where traffic exists, but it’s a space where all the other content is unappealing.

But then, how would I ever think to target the new term? The answer is, I didn’t have to. I actually am incredibly optimized on that term, because there is functionally no escape from HitTail once you’re researching that phrase. But the question we must ask as the HitTail developers, is whether that is a generality. Should we keep our suggestions hardwired to actuals, or should we “spike” them with speculative terms from other sources?

BlogKing hits on the chicken and egg issue in his latest post, where he recommends reading the news in the morning, commenting in the afternoon, and checking your traffic in HitTail in the evening (or a few days later) to go another round. Going another round implies zeroing in on where the traffic is REALLY at.

And therein lays the true answer to what this post asks. Start with keywords that you KNOW SHOULD lead to your site, based on whatever sources, be it intuition, brainstorming, keyword inventory tools, the morning news, or wherever. Once you’ve “seeded” your site with content, watch what HitTail is trying to tell you in its capacity as a web suggestion box.

You might have been close with your original post, but you could really hit it home and optimize your website for natural traffic with just one more post.

Niche Keywords

Aaron Wall of SEOBook made a nice post yesterday about niche keywords. It starts out with the question of whether there is a way to estimate search volume on a niche term that is not highly targeted. It goes onto touch on how the volume of the keyword traffic doesn’t necessarily correlate to the value of the traffic. You can have some very low traffic words that convert like crazy, or where the average value of the customer over their lifetime is high. First, he recommends just going into your AdWords interface to look up a word to get an idea of it’s search volume, then to use his keyword tool to get some variations and costs. Aaron winds down by mentioning HitWise and KeyCompete as closed paid options of filling out your keyword list, and is generous enough to mention HitTail as a way of getting more suggestions based on your existing traffic.

Keywords Forever

The HitTail premium service is rapidly approaching. But don’t worry. HitTail as you know it today will remain a free public service to bloggers everywhere seeking to amplify their voice in the noisy Web.

We will reserve announcement of the detailed feature list until closely before release. But there is one I want to talk about today in order to get you thinking about why and how HitTail works so well…

Keywords Forever.

Such simple words, and so much competitive advantage for HitTail users. This is the fundamental reason we’re a writing a long tail keyword tool, and not an analytics package. We record the keywords that have lead to your site–forever. And this makes other features of HitTail (like the writing suggestions) all the more powerful.

That’s right. We have a growing list of keywords for each website using HitTail. And this long keyword list begins to act as a uniqueness filter. By this, we mean that we use the old list to filter the new list. That’s why the keyword tab works like a first-time keyword radar system. We can tell the first time a particular keyword combination has led to your site–ever! (or at least since you’ve installed the HitTail code)…

And that’s REALLY cool.

This sounds somewhat simple, but it makes all the difference in the world. No other service that I know of keeps the list of keywords leading to your site forever, so that you might zero in on the new words most quickly. The new keywords under the keywords tab are filtered based on all the words that have led to your site in the past. So everything there is TRULY new, and is keyword gold ore. That keyword gold ore is where the HitTail algorithms kick in and refine keyword gold–in the form of writing suggestions. So, everything you’re looking at is new, and not the tired old stuff that you’ve looked at in your analytics software for years.

So when we say “Keywords Forever”, we’re talking about our ability to warehouse every keyword that ever led to your site, and use it as a real-time filter for new hits coming in. It’s sometimes hard to wrap your mind around, but this saves you incredible amounts of time in your keyword research.

When choosing an analytics-like tool for deriving blog writing suggestions and alleviating writer’s block, be sure to check if it’s got the Keywords Forever feature, because without it, you’re going to be considering the same terms over and over. We de-duplicate these terms early on, and respect your time.

While we will be attempting to preserve the Keywords Forever feature for our free users, we can assure it for our premium users. It’s a subtle difference, but it definitely provides a one-of-a-kind advantage to online marketers worldwide.

Social Activism Blogging

Smart keyword selection is an essential part of activism. These seemingly disparate worlds of online marketing and promoting your social cause are directly related because search, specifically Google, is becoming the new arbitrator of who finds what… based… on… what… keywords!

Yep. In yesteryear, your filter was the selection of NBC, CBS or ABC. Then came 500 cable channels, and the TV channel guide filter broke, and search was added. Meanwhile, on the Web, search dominated all, and the ability to buy your way into search became a $5 billion industry, and Google became the new power broker of our era.

But whereas in regular media, the content which brought you to the site was TV programs or newspaper and magazine articles, Google’s content is natural search results. By giving a certain amount of customer arbitrage away for free, they are able to charge for enough to support the system. All media that’s advertising-supported is a middleman, pairing buyers with sellers.

With that quick bit of background out of the picture, any activist or social cause needs to know that they’re in the same game of getting paired with sympathetic audience. Problem being, you don’t know who that sympathetic audience is, where they’re reading or watching, and the like. All you know is that if they’re a part of your potential audience, then someday they’re going to Google on terms related to your cause. And you need to be in their path.

But where to start?

Of course, you start with brainstorming. You know your audience well enough to come up with a list of terms you need to target. Then, you use these terms in the headline of your blog posts. Over time, this will start to generate search hits.

And that’s where HitTail comes in.

HitTail provides a systematic way of making sure you thoroughly cover an expanding spiral of topics that spiral out from the central base of core content. The core content is the brainstormed topics with which you seeded your blog.

Over time, you will start to pull in a larger and larger base of readers–both those sympathetic to your cause, and those hostile. But the good news is that you control the online discussion. You will (hopefully) be one of the ten top-10 listings on that keyword. If you team up with like-minded activists, together you can be ten of the top-10 listings.

If you are an activist, you are the media. Start blogging, and use HitTail to make it work well.

Foreign Language Long Tail Marketing

For those who haven’t noticed yet, HitTail is now translated into Deutsch, Francias, Nederlands and Italien. Connors already has a reputation for international SEO, but now we’re enabling millions of bloggers worldwide to optimize for the long tail of search in their own languages. So, you thought your long tail was long in English? Have you thought about the fact that if you have an international market for your product or service, you may have a long tail in the language of each?

Seems difficult? Yes. Yes, it is.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. SEO becomes proportionally more difficult with each language you target. This is why PPC is such a good idea for international search marketing. You only have to naturally optimize your native language site, and a few landing pages. Then, you translate your keyword list and drop it into AdWords or Panama. The amount you have to translate is reduced, and you don’t have to deal with the complexity of translating language-specific idioms.

So, is optimizing for natural search in foreign languages a hopeless task? Do you have to translate your entire website, and keep all the varying versions in sync?

Nonsense! This is yet another advantage of using blogging software for natural search. No one is going to expect you to go back and retroactively translate blog posts to keep them in sync. Blog posts are sort of an imprinted memory of what you were thinking at the time. It gets you off the hook. Your blog posts in different languages don’t even need to say the same thing. Merely, the headlines should be rough equivalents of each topic you’re targeting.

In other words, you only need the headlines to match in each language. And even that is a rough estimate, because the keywords you SHOULD be targeting could vary in each market, based on culture and nuance. So, how do you know which keywords you should target in each language?

Hmmmm, let’s see…

You could use… HitTai!

That’s right. Do you need a way to truth-check what your native language-speaking translators are telling you? Translate some initial “seed” content into each language. Make sure your most-important benchmark keywords are included somewhere in the copy of those translations. Then, ask your native language translator to translate your blogs into each language as you go.

There will reach a point where the data being collected by HitTail will give you new insights into the local markets. These insights may show you that you were totally off base in your initial translations.

Case in point: we refer to natural search as the elephant in the room of any online marketing discussion. Why? Because all roads lead you to “buying” your traffic. Some of the powers-that-be would love to close that lovely loophole whereby quality content producers still get their traffic for free. Who gets anything for free in this world? Who would make a product that lets you get something for free, and provides that product for free? We did it. And now we’re telling you how we did it. But our elephant doesn’t translate, because it’s an American English idiom. What’s an idiom? Shooting from the hip, I’d say it was an expression that makes sense because of cultural context. But then, I’d be flying by the seat of my pants. Our elephant in the corner of the room, somehow becomes a pink elephant in translation. So, our unspoken natural search friend becomes an alcoholic delusion. Anyone who has listened to the English-to-Japanese translations translated back to English knows exactly what I mean. If you haven’t had this experience, it’s a necessary experience for any online marketer dealing with language translations.

The bottom line is that, thanks to HitTail and long tail search marketing techniques, the actual copy on the page doesn’t have to be long to be effective. Take advantage of that fact, and put your limited translation resources into culturally-correct headlines. Then, either translate very little on the page itself, or find yourself a native language-speaking blogger who can translate the essence of your posts. Do this for the first bunch of posts that you’ve already made, then see what suggestions start coming in. Adjust your new foreign language posts to make the most of HitTail suggestions and cultural context. Forget about translating the bulk of your main website into every language, unless you’ve really got that sort of resources. Let each language-specific blog take on a life of its own. This is like how Coke allows it’s regional companies to adapt their offerings for each country.