Understanding Long tail Keywords In SEO

Understanding Long tail Keywords In SEO


Good keyword research gives you confidence. If you think keywords are important, and the keyword data backs it up, you know you’re onto a winner. If you have ever looked at SEO before and felt lost, there’s a strong chance you didn’t have an end goal in mind, and that’s what good keyword research provides. In this article, I want to look at the importance of Longtail keyword in SEO.


The long tail keyword is an idea that was popularized by Chris Anderson in his book by the same name. Here is a summary from the book:


“The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers.


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In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”



In the above definition, the small number of “hits” are what we consider the short-tail, the more generic way of describing a market or topic. They are hits because individually the search volume is high, but there aren’t that many of them.



In the world of SEO, there is now more of an expectancy that a specific search query will be answered by a hyper-focused topic on a webpage both by search engines and by its users.


According to Moz.com:

“It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day, but in reality, these popular search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, comprise the majority of the world’s search volume.”


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In the above graph, we can see that long-tail keywords accounts for 70% of keyword search traffic. Individually, the search volume is less compared to the short-tail keywords but collectively it is significantly bigger. And because long-tail keywords are more specific, the user knows what they are after, so when the keyword is transactional, they tend to convert much more easily. As long-tail keywords are often less well known, they are less competitive, and easier to rank for.

long tail keywords

Long tail keywords are often less competitive because they are less obvious. This makes them easier to rank, and because they are more specific, they tend to be easier to convert. One of the downsides of long tail keywords, is that they take more time to research and more content is needed to target them.


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Long tail keywords can be transactional, navigational and informational in nature – although it’s perhaps the informational type of keywords that is the biggest opportunity for long-tail. That’s why blog posts, particularly long-form blog posts, are a great way to target the long-tail.


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