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What is a Long Tail Keyword?

Longtail keywords

In the not so distant past, long tail keywords were hailed as a very effective way to increase search traffic. But of course, there was not as much competition back then and it was quite a bit easier to optimize pages in order to use the long tail keywords. Even though many still consider this to be part of ancient history and treat it as the forgotten treasure, they have been making a resurgence in value. Using long tail keywords can offer a powerful tool through which to leverage search traffic, especially when there is a lot of competition surrounding some of the “core” keywords in a niche or industry. Once it becomes clear how to use long tail keywords as part of an SEO strategy, they can actually work for us even better than they did in the past.

What is a long tail keyword?

A long tail keyword is a more of a keyword phrase which usually contains at least 3 words; but it can contain as many as 5 words. These are very useful when a website needs to refine some of the search terms; but is also effective when a user is searching for something more specific. A long tail keyword is similar to normal keywords in that they are useful for defining the page contents, what the publisher wants to be found through searches and what is displayed on SERPs. The key difference is that they are much more specific in nature and do not draw as much traffic to the site. However, the traffic that they do draw is generally higher quality, or more relevant which can lead to many more conversions than what normal keywords typically produce.

Why use long tail keywords?

When a site publisher or an SEO specialist uses long tail keywords, they are trying to reach a corner market which may be smaller in size than some of the others, but has just as much potential. When used with pay per click biding long tail keywords can end up being a lot less expensive. This is also true for other paid inclusion strategies because there are less people bidding on these keywords for ads or SERPs. Long tail keywords are used by visitors to create a more narrow search. If a visitor is looking specifically for “green fuzzy house shoes” it makes more sense to use the entire phrase rather than just “house shoes” or “fuzzy shoes.” This helps the searcher filter out a lot of the search engine results that do not have anything to do specifically with green fuzzy house shoes.

Long Tail Keywords and SEO

On one hand it might look like getting just a handful of visitors to the sites by using long tail keywords are not an effective SEO strategy. But if it only gets 4 extra site visitors but 2 of them convert, then it is well worth it. Conversions and ROI are the name of the game, not just generating traffic.  It is essential to conduct extensive research to discover long tail keywords to use in an SEO campaign. Research is the only way that an SEO specialist can determine if a long tail keyword will be effective or not. On one hand the success of an SEO campaign can largely rest with the long tail keywords. Even though some of the more heavily searched keywords bring in more actual traffic to the site, in the final analysis long tail keywords can help a site carve out its own niche so that they claim their spot in the top rankings of the SERPs.

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