Long Tail Keyword Research

long tail keyword researchLong tail keyword research is about finding descriptive keyword phrases.

It’s the  long tail  phrases that bring the most targeted traffic.

Long tail keyword phrases are typically 3-5 words in length and are much more descriptive than the basic one or two keyword phrases.

For example the long tail keyword phrase  ‘womens red running shoes‘ is a more descriptive keyword phrase than the more common phrase ‘womens red shoes‘.   

Typically, marketers tend to go after the keyword phrase that gets the most searches which, in most cases, is the less descriptive phrase.

But guess what?

High search volume keywords only make up about 30% of the searches on the web, the remaining 70% come from the more descriptive long tail keywords.

So it’s not about using keyword phrases that get the most search volume, those phrases are much harder rank for and they’re not likely to attract the traffic that’s most targeted to what your web page is about.  Instead go for the long tail keyword phrases.

You may attract less traffic, but you”ll attract much more targeted traffic.

How to find your best keyword phrases using long tail keyword research

Finding the Long Tail Keywords

To find good long tail keywords, start by using your favorite keyword research tool. For purposes of this demonstration I’ll be using Wordtracker.  You can follow along by using the Wordtracker free trial.

Let’s take for example the keyword phrase ‘athletic shoes’.  Using Wordtracker we can see If we look at each of these phrases in Wordtracker we see the following:

athletic shoes (short tail)
discount athletic shoes (long tail)
athletic shoes for women(long tail)
boys athletic shoes (long tail)
athletic shoes for flat feet (long tail)
toddler athletic shoes   (long tail)
cheap athletic shoes for women     (long tail)
steel toe athletic shoes (long tail)
best athletic shoes for plantar fasciitis (long tail)
boys athletic shoes clearance (long tail)

One big bonus here is that the long tail keywords have about 30% fewer competing web pages than the long tail keywords.  That means a web page targeting the keywords ‘athletic shoes’ has less of a chance of ranking well than it would for the term ‘womens athletic shoes’ or ‘discount womens athletic shoes’.

The long tail keywords give you a much better chance to rank well because there’s less competition.

I’d rather rank on the first page of Google for a keyword phrase that gets only 100 searches a day versus ranking on page 5 or 6 or beyond for a keyword phrase that gets 10,000 searches a day.

Keyword Research and Using Your  Competitors

Competition is a good thing because you can use your competitors to your advantage.  Check out who your competitors are and take a good look how they are achieving their ranking.

Because inbound links can help you rank well,  it makes sense to see who is linking to your competitors.

Here’s what I do:

To find the number of inbound links a web site has, I use backlink watch.

  • Simply go to http://www.backlinkwatch.com/index.php
  • Enter the URL of your competitor’s site and click check backlinks.

For example, the keyword phrase “rose scented candles”‘ gets roughly 210 searches.  If I type into Google the keyword phrase “rose scented candles” (use the quotes) then select one of the first five search entries and type that address into backlinkwatch, I can see for example, that the #4 result on Google for that keyword phrase has less than 60 inbound links.

(at the time of this writing you may see different results.)

If I can get at least that many inbound links to my site for that keyword phrase and variations of that phrase, I have a much better chance of ranking on the first page of Google for that keyword phrase.

Now 60 links or even several hundred links may seem like a lot, but use these quick and easy ways to quickly get links pointing to your webpages for your specific keyword phrase.

Do these things over the course of a few weeks and you’ll  have lots of inbound links in no time.

Remember,  search engines rank web pages, not websites, so optimize each of your web pages separately for the long tail keywords that are the most descriptive as well as highly relevant.



Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic and freedigitalphotos.net

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  1. Reginald says:

    Hi Liz,

    Love this. Remind me of my niche blogging. Just too bad that I don’t have enough time to run all the sites at the same time.

    Oh my…you use backlinkwatch! I usually use Google Keyword Tool but it is always great to have extra one tool to use. I am a tool junkie as well. Haha!

    Thanks for sharing and shared!

    • Hi Reginald,

      I don’t think the Google keyword tool shows backlinks does it? Anyway the Google keyword tool is going away in the next few months. It’s being replaced with keyword planner. Not sure how keyword planner will work. Guess we’ll have to wait and see :-)


      • Reginald says:

        Sorry Liz what I mean was I uses Google keyword tool for keywords hunting not backlink tools. However, you can find your competitors targeted keywords using it 😀

        I tried using keyword planner for sometime now and I think I’m bias. Of course, using Google keyword tool like years and suddenly something new.

        Not bad at all (planner) but navigation is weird. That’s for sure. Hate the grouping part but works well if you have the time to place targeted keywords into groups.

        Just my 2 cents :)

        • Hi Reginald,

          Thanks for the heads up on Google planner. I haven’t spent much time with it, but like you I did find the navigation a little difficult.

          Liz :-)

  2. Jack Duncan says:

    Ms. Liz,
    You’re absolutely correct about the importance of long-tail keywords. Google Adwords has this quote within their help section as of Aug. 2016 – “roughly 20 percent of the searches Google receives each day are ones we haven’t seen in at least 90 days.” So if you’re not targeting long-tail terms, you’re missing out on lots and lots of traffic to your site. The best way to target long-tail keywords is with rich, LSI themed content.

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