The revival of the long-tail keywords in SEO

June 21st, 2013 in SEO 3 minute read

About six years ago, long-tail keywords were one of the most effective ways of gaining search traffic. With time, the interest in the long-tail keywords slowly declined in correlation to the Panda and Penguin updates, although there is still just as much to gain from the more specific search terms that are long-tail keywords.

What is a long-tail keyword?

A long-tail keyword is a phrase of more than three words that has a lower search volume and lower competition than keywords of one or two words. This means that a long-tail keyword has a higher probability of conversion as the search is more specific and relevant. Imagine someone searching for the term “shoes”. They might be looking to buy a pair of shoes, but at the stage of only browsing and not knowing exactly what they want. Or they might be browsing for information about shoes without the intention of a purchase. If they search for the term “blue shoes” there is an inclination that the person has a much clearer idea of what they are looking for. Furthermore, if they search for “blue women’s running shoes” they are probably ready to make a purchase.

Google is becoming more human

One of the reasons why the long-tail keywords have recently been getting more focus is because of Google’s aim to become a destination for individuals to get an answer to a specific enquiry. Google Now for mobile phones, where you can verbally ask your phone something and expect an answer, is an example of this. The types of search enquiries Google are getting are becoming more specific in sense of the user knowing exactly what they are looking for. In this sense, Google is becoming more human and we expect Google to give us the most relevant answer. By searching for a so called “core” or “head” keyword, you will get rich information from top quality sites, but it might not be exactly what you are looking for.

User intent

On the other hand, if you search with a long-tail keyword, the results are highly relevant. To identify the relevant long-tail keywords is therefore a key task for understanding and increasing the conversion rates from natural search. In other words, it is important to have knowledge of user intent for facilitating conversion. The focus can’t solely be to rank on the first page of Google for the “core” or “head” keywords, as this is just the beginning of the game. The goal is to increase conversions, so if you can reach people that are looking for exactly what the website provides, it converts to revenue.

The proof is in the long tail

Long tail terms comprise 70% of all search queries according to Moz, and according to Google 20% of any search that is performed every day is completely unique. This proves that the majority of search enquiries come from longer and more specific search terms, from people who know what they are looking for. So why not capture them and make them into conversions?


The focus needs to be in the content. We all know that content is king, and even more so when it comes to long-tail. If you want to target the specific searches, you need to make sure your content is as broad but relevant as possible and that comes in volume, but not at the cost of quality. The more fresh and useful content you have, the more people you will attract who are looking for the services or products you offer. The variety of content and the spreading of content though different channels to spread the word are important too.

With the identification of your long-tail keywords and an extensive content marketing plan, you can turn your organic traffic into revenue.

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