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SEO & Digital Marketing

How Long-Tail Keywords Unlock Content Performance

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Launch your content to new heights with the help of long-tailed keywords. Here’s what to know about this impactful element.

Key Takeaways:

  • The secret to content that performs is a dedicated keyword strategy.
  • You can’t just throw in any words – you need to know what keywords will set you up for success.
  • Long-tail keywords give you distinct advantages over regular short-tail keywords.
  • Once you’ve picked the best keywords for your content strategy, you have to back them up with great content.

Don’t underestimate the power of keywords in your content strategy. When you put in the time to find the right ones for each piece of content, you’re rewarded with perks like leads, customers, brand awareness, and revenue – all benchmarks for a successful campaign.

But it takes work. You can’t just jot down whatever comes to mind and expect those words to work. Whether you’re a new business starting to evaluate its online presence or an established brand looking to do better, keywords and SEO might seem like an impossible mountain to climb.

Climbing that mountain is a necessary part of your journey. But it doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to know what makes one keyword a winner and another a flop. The secret is long-tail keywords, which are hyper-targeted. The broader your content (and its keywords), the harder it is to compete. Niche keywords should be your focus.

Don’t sweat it if you’ve never heard of a long-tail keyword before. They’re one of the most straightforward (and successful) tools you’ll use in your content strategy. Here’s what you need to know.


What are long-tail keywords?

Let’s start with a basic definition. A long-tail keyword is a keyword with a narrow focus that usually takes the form of a phrase rather than a single word or two.

"A long-tail keyword is a keyword with a narrow focus that usually takes the form of a phrase rather than a single word or two."

“Content marketing” is a short-tail keyword since it’s only two words, for example. A long-tail keyword might be “content marketing for small businesses,” “types of content marketing,” or “what is content marketing.”

Long-tail keywords are a bit of a misnomer. They contain more words than their counterparts, but the name comes from the fact that most Google searches made today are long-tail keywords, even though each of them has a low search volume.

The opposite of a long-tail keyword is – you guessed it – a short-tail keyword. These are high-volume search terms that are very competitive and have fewer words. The problem is that it’s harder to get the right people to find your content if you use only short-tail keywords. That’s why long-tail keywords shine.

It makes perfect sense: If you’re searching for a new toy for your dog, you don’t just search for “dog toy.” You’d type in something more specific like “best dog toys for small breeds,” “dog toys for tough chewers,” or “durable toys for dogs over 100 pounds.”

Don’t ignore long-tail keywords. If you can be the source to show up for super-specific, targeted search results, you’ll be ahead of the competition.


Why are long-tail keywords so important?

Before you integrate long-tail keywords into your online strategy, you need to understand why you’re doing it and how they’re working for you. Let’s dig deeper into the benefits.

1. Better conversion rates

Long-tail keywords convert at a higher rate than short-tail keywords. Why? It’s simple: They help people find the content they actually want

Search queries tend to be specific to a niche, like a specific question or problem. When a reader lands on your page after searching for a super-targeted long-tail keyword, they are more likely to act on that page because the content is relevant. It solves the problem they’re trying to solve.

"Long-tail keywords convert at a higher rate than short-tail keywords. Why? It’s simple: they help people find the content they actually want."

2. Less competition

Short-tail keywords have a ton of competition. It takes way more work to rank highly against competitors for “weight loss” (3.2 billion results) than it is for “weight loss tips for seniors” (about 1 billion results).

Long-tail keywords aren’t always popular, so you can stand out with these more focused phrases that relate to your audience. You can rank highly with less work by incorporating these keywords into your content.

3. Specific context

Google cares a lot about a user’s intent, which goes beyond the simple words they enter into the search bar. Google RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that deciphers what a search really means to show more appropriate results.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of gaps to fill on Google’s part when users use short-tail keywords. That’s a lot of opportunities to go wrong, no matter how smart machine learning gets. Long-tail keywords are more specific, so Google has a better idea of what users want to see and can deliver more relevant results based on exact phrase matching and context.

All of this means that the search engine recognizes that people’s search terms are detailed and precise. Incorporating long-tail keywords into your website and blog lets Google understand the context of your content, giving you a better chance of ranking highly and users a better chance of finding you.


How to use long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are great, and you should use them. But how do you get started? As with all good things in life, you need to do your research. Here’s what to do first.

1. Use keyword planners

Knowing your audience’s intent helps inform your research. Talk to your customers and get to know them so you can better understand what questions they’re asking: 

  • What problems does your product solve for them? 
  • Which words would they use to search for answers to their questions?

If you haven’t already, set up a Google Ads account. There, you can find the Google Keyword Planner tool, which is perfect for finding the search volume and popularity of potential long-tail keywords.

Another option is the autocomplete feature on Google. Start typing a keyword your customers would search for, and see what Google auto-fills in the pop-up window. These predictions are based on trends and personal history, and they make awesome long-tail keywords.

One more thing – try searching a basic keyword, then scroll to the bottom of the results page to see related searches. Not all of these are viable options, but they may give you starting points.

2. Kickass keywords = the best content

Once you have long-tail keywords to use, it’s time to start planning content around them.

The important thing here is to write content around keywords that make sense. Don’t just throw keywords into irrelevant blogs – plan the keywords first, then create content that centers around them. Remember, Google heavily considers context, so your content needs to tell a story.

In addition to adding them to the body, you should also add keywords to the title, URL, meta tags, and image alt text. Keyword positioning boosts performance, but only if you drop those keywords into the right places.

Build a structure within your website by linking to other relevant blogs and landing pages. Linking to other content focusing on related keywords also helps search engines understand the meaning and the flow of your content.

3. Analyze, analyze, analyze

Tracking the performance of long-tail keywords is the only way you’re going to know if they’re successful. Use Google Analytics to track traffic, bounce rate, and conversions. You should tweak your keywords as you go and continue to develop content to attract potential customers.


Turn searchers into customers

Keyword research is useless if it leads readers to mediocre content that doesn’t capture your target audience’s attention. Great keywords need to support amazing content. That means content that provides real value to the reader, usually as an answer to a question or some other valuable insight.

There’s only one way to get great content, and that’s with a visionary writing team. When you work with ContentBacon, you get access to a team of writers, editors, and strategists who can craft fantastic keyword-focused content that performs. We can help you build a strategy that gets your brand out into the world and turns leads into customers.

Learn more about our subscriptions to get started.

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