Long Tail Keywords 101: What Are They and Why Are They So Important for SEO?

Long Tail Keywords: The Secret to A Successful SEO Strategy

Whether you’re a newbie or expert in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you’ve been told time and time again that long tail keywords are important. But what do they mean by that? What are long tail keywords? How are they important? And why are they important?

Worry not, we’ll discuss long tail keywords in detail and answer all of your questions and more on the matter.

To start off, why are long tail keywords so important? Do people really search long tail keywords over short tail? (We’ll discuss what these are later). The answer is yes. A solid yes. In fact, 70% of all searches on the web across all search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu – you name it, are long tail keyword searches. With 70% of searches being long tail, you’re missing out big time if you’re not integrating it into your SEO strategy.

What Are Short Tail and Long Tail Keywords?

Considering that 70% of searches are long tail, they seem to be promising. To understand what they are and how they differentiate from short tail, let’s put a situation into your perspective.

It’s Thursday evening and you’re absolutely starving (and I mean starving), but you also forgot to go grocery shopping yesterday so your pantry and fridge are as barren as the Sahara desert. Plus, your pile of dishes in the sink are toppling higher than Mount Everest so you don’t feel like adding more plates to the collection. So what do you do? You go on your best friend, Google, and see what you could order for take-out.

Now, when you’re searching, you’re doing one of two things: Without even thinking about it, you’re either entering in a short tail or long tail keyword. Say you feel like having sushi – you could either type in “sushi” which is short tail or you could type in “cheap sushi places near me in Vancouver” which is obviously long tail.

As seen above, the short tail keyword search of “sushi” shows Wikipedia as the first result after Google Places – which is great, but doesn’t fix the problem of your stomach growling. After the Wikipedia result, there are few other options to look dinner ideas for, but you’re not really interested in those either.

On the other hand, the long tail keyword search of “cheap sushi places near me in Vancouver” offers more choices and selections that are catered to what you’re actually looking for – cheap sushi places in Vancouver. This search is the one that’s going to help you satisfy your hunger cravings.

It all makes sense, right?

If it doesn’t and you like theory-based explanations better, no worries. We’re just getting into that now.

Looking at the bigger picture, short tail keywords are shorter and they’re generally only one to two words maximum. Some examples of short tail are words like “salsa dancing,” “hammer,” “pizza,” and “computer” – they’re all very general and no more than two words. These short tail keywords have a larger search volume, but lower conversion rates. With more people searching general terms, the chances of purchase intent become lower, hence a lower conversion rate.

For short tail, there’s also a lot of competition. Most of the time, if you search short tail keywords, the majority of the results show well-established companies and corporations. For example, if you’re searching for “burger,” you’ll most likely find bigger names like “Red Robins,” “McDonald’s,” “A&W,” and “Burger King.” With short tail, you’re probably not going to find a mom and pop burger shack, at least not organically. If you do rank for short tail (and you’re not a corporation), consider yourself very lucky.

On the other hand, long tail keywords are generally longer and range from three to five words or more. Some examples of long tail keywords include “most efficient laptop for university,” “toddler daycare in Downtown Vancouver,” and “red floor-length prom dress with lace and beads.” These keywords are longer, have less search volumes, and are less competitive. People who search these more specific keywords tend to be further down the sales funnel and hence, are more ready to make a purchase as they know what they want and are actively looking for it.

Because there aren’t that many people searching for these specific keywords, there’s less of a market searching and less competition. Plus, the people who are searching long tail practically have their wallets out and are absolutely ready to make a purchase, they’re just looking for the right search result that ticks off all the boxes of their quest – making the conversion rate higher. We’ll get more into this in the next section.

Why Are Long Tail Keywords Important?

So now that you have firm grasp on what long tail keywords are and how they differ from short tail, why are they so important for SEO?

If the fact that long tails account for 70% of all keyword searches didn’t get you, then this might.

Arguably, long tail keywords are significantly superior to short tail. The argument for this rests on the idea behind search volume and conversions for each respective subject. In general, because short tail keywords have a large number of search volume, they tend to have lower conversion numbers. For this, there are more people searching with less purchasing intent – skewing the conversions to a lower rate. Those who search short tail tend to be at the beginning of the sales funnel and might not even have any intent to purchase which hurts the rate. Most of the time, these people are just interested in learning more about something or are still researching what they’re looking for. Because of this, they aren’t as likely to purchase and convert.

Flipping the hand, long tail keywords have a lower search volume but those who search specific keywords are ready to make a purchase – increasing the conversion rate. Since the emphasis on long tail keywords is very focused and specific, people who search these are surer of what they’re looking for – they know exactly what they want. Plus, as an additional perk of long tail, the cost per click for these in advertising are significantly lower due to the lack of volume search demand. It’s practically a win-win situation with long tail keywords!

So, would you rather have 100 searches but a 53% conversion rate or 500 searches but a 1% conversion rate? In other words, would you rather have long tail keywords or short tail keywords? The answer plain and simple – long tail – which is why they’re so important for your SEO strategy.

If you have any questions on long tail keywords or SEO in general, shoot us a message below!