The Importance of Using Long-tail Keywords For SEO

The first step in any SEO campaign is keyword research. Keyword research powers every additional step in the research and analysis phase of the campaign and can have an impact on every bit of a brand’s SEO efforts. This is a lot of weight to give to a handful of words, especially if the brand feels that they have a handle on the way their customers are searching for them and do not see the need for additional research. Keyword research is essential and cannot be avoided!

How much research and how in-depth you need to go depends on your industry. Generally speaking, there are probably a lot of people out there who are searching for your brand and your products / services in ways that you might have never thought of. Because of this, it is important to take care when selecting your keywords.

Keyword research and SEO

There are two primary types of keywords: broad / general and niche / long-tail. The keywords that are the most obvious, have the highest search volume, and enjoy the highest competition are the broad spectrum or general keywords. Have you ever searched for something generic like “beach towels” only to see more results than you could look at in several lifetimes? The brands that are ranking for terms like these are established, trusted brands that have proven themselves over a long period of time. It could take you years to rank for a term like this, and even then, there is no guarantee of success.

On the opposite end of the scale are the niche or long-tail keywords. These are keywords that might not have astronomical search volume, but instead have less competition and are more likely to lead to a customer conversion. It also takes less time to rank well for a long-tail keyword than it does for a more general keyword. Go from “beach towels” to “red beach towels” and you’ve identified your first long-tail keyword. Lets take it a step further and make that phrase even longer, how about “best red beach towels.”

long tail keyword researchHere’s the deal, people become obsessed with the head term, which is understandable. If you sell beach towels you obviously want to rank for “beach towels,” but lets think a little bit outside the box. If your head term has a search volume of, let’s say 10,000 searches a month, odds are it’s fairly high competition. So why beat yourself up in the high competition market when you can start attacking thousands of long-tails and get your organic traffic there?

If a long-tail phrase only gets a handful of searches a month, many see the term as useless. I say give me those useless terms! I’ll take a couple hundred, or even a couple thousand of those – and guess what, now I have a high volume of organic visitors.

Here’s the beauty of it: these searches tend to have much higher conversion rates (Google PDF – Conversion For Dummies).

So lets talk about keyword selection. The head term is always easy. If you sell beach towels you obviously want to rank for “beach towels,” and there’s your head term. Now we need to find out the long-tails that are being searched for in relation to beach towels. The head term “beach towels” is searched for 12,100 times monthly. What’s surprising is that the head term “beach towels” has 639 related long-tails associated with it. You can access this information on Take your head term and enter it in (aff) and you will be able to pull a report of all related keywords. This report will show you search volume, and you can further break down the list by then seeing all related keywords around a chosen long-tail.

For example, we run the head term “beach towels” and notice that “kids beach towels” has a search volume of 720 searches a month. We can now enter or select “kids beach towels” and compile a list of all related keywords to “kids beach towels” as a head term.

Keyword Analysis Long Tail

You’ll notice 26 related phrases just to the term “kids beach towels.” If you choose to use the term “kids beach towels” as your head term, you can work off of the more specified list. This can be a great way to break down your website into category pages. You can now optimize each page around the category related head term.


Going back to the main head term “beach towels,” you’ll notice hundreds of long-tails with low search volume. This is what I like to focus on. Often these terms are ignored and practically forgotten. Keep in mind, these very specific searches typically have a very high conversion rates, which is why we’re ultimately doing this.


So lets talk about how you rank for hundreds of long-tails on a single page. Sometimes the conception is that this is not possible. Many believe in order to do so, you’d need to anchor each complete phrase in your copy. That’s simply not the case. Let say you want to rank for “best blue kids beach towels.” This doesn’t mean you need the term “best blue kids beach towels” on your site to have a #1 ranking. Lets take a look at that specific #1 ranking for “best blue kids beach towels”.


You’ll notice that each unique word, “best” “blue” “kids” “beach” “towels” appears in the copy, but not as a complete phrase. So lets take this a step further and take a look at how to make a well-optimized page. In order to rank for hundreds of long-tails, break that list of phrases down into unique words. Since many of these words are repetitive, you can drop the duplicates. Once you have a list of all unique individual words start writing your copy. It’s as simple as making sure each unique word is included in your copy.

Granted, there are hundreds of factors involving organic ranking; however, without a well-optimized page you’re fighting an uphill battle. Set yourself up for success and make sure you’re optimized properly. If you do use an SEO service, make sure they offer these types of on-page suggestions for optimization.

Ideally, the best keywords will have a relatively high search volume, are low competition, and have a high potential to help your brand turn a profit. While long-tail keywords might not have the highest search volumes out there, they do have plenty of potential to help you see results sooner! How great would it be to walk into your next meeting and proudly announce that your SEO campaign was already starting to show positive ROI? Take our word for it, it feels really good! Try using long-tail keywords in your content and see all of the benefits that come with more traffic, better rankings, and the ROI to prove the worth of your efforts!

Kris Dietz

Kris Dietz is the Co-founder MStreetLLC, and his approach to SEO is to create something amazing then spreading the word about it! As a company we strive to help our customers, employees and families improve their lives. My mission is to develop and mold SEO into an amazing outlet of sharing valuable resources.

18 thoughts on “The Importance of Using Long-tail Keywords For SEO

  • A proper post tile with 2-3 relevant keyword helps you in making it appear on the top of the search results… Got on the top search results then get starts to increase your traffic.

  • Approaching this as a creative writer… it could be tons of fun. Good way to beat the winter blues. Especially on Towel Day. We could teach a whole new generation of kids to appreciate Douglas Adams and start a new fashion trend – never go anywhere without your beach towel. Does 42 towels count as “in bulk,” I wonder? (And does punctuation interfere with this keyword ranking business?) I’ve heard the best beach cover up for your long tail is a blue towel. 😉

  • You nailed it!!! Right, long tail keywords have less competition. And we all know that the foundation of a website lies in its choice of keywords. So in order not to waste my time and effort, I only use Colibri Tool in researching for my long tail keywords. Been very satisfied.

    • Hi Martin. I heard about the Colibri somewhere before, but to be honest, have not yet been able to take them for a test drive. Seems you are satisfied with them. That´s good! Keyword research aside, what would say would be your favorite features of their tool? Just curious 🙂

  • As usual a great post Francisco. However the link devalues it a little.

    I don’t think 824,872 people registered using the registration page your link points to… ..which made me doubt the validity of the 824,872 users and then the validity of the service.

    • Hi Edwardo. Thanks for your comment and I do appreciate you being straight forward. SEMrush does claim 324K plus users. I think that it is a combination of all users that makes part of the SEOquake team. SEoquake, SEMrush and Whorush are all part of the same “umbrella” and if you have heard about the SEOquake SEO tools, this number may just be right, if indeed all their users are being combined. I do understand that “direct” users may be lower than this. In any event, I do use the tool and not only is it a good keyword tool, it has a lot of other awesome features. Not sure if that helps clarify a bit things for you.

      • Yes I’ve heard and use SEOquake. Great product.

        I followed the link and saw that the mandatory fields on the registration page did not display any field descriptions. Also the login and register buttons at the top right of the page did not work. I would have though at least one of the 324k users might have pointed these problems out to them.

        My guess is that they’re losing a lot of punters because of this…

        If you recommend them that’s good enough for me. I’m going to save up and give them a 1 month tryout..

        • Hi Edwardo. Thanks for letting me know about that signup issue. I agree with you that they may be loosing potential customers because of that. I will let them know.. Hopefully they will do something about it. And BTW, once you have a bit more of experience with the tool, should you use the trial, let me know what you think of it. Would appreciate your feedback.

  • Nice post Kris. Long-tails don’t bring as much traffic, but when they do, the traffic is highly targeted. Nevertheless the truth is, that performance of SEO is based on general, 2-3 keywords phrases. Long-tail keywords are a complement of proper SEO strategy.

    • I agree, this works incredibly well when you can find a head term that yields hundreds and in some cases thousands of long-tail variations. I’ve seen sites rank page one for over a thousand long-tail phrases at 2-30 searches a month. The volume can become overwhelming.

      Not to mention when this happens the head term usually snowballs to the top as well.

  • Long terms keywords are big part of SEO these days as they help us a lot to drive large amount of traffic to our website.
    For those who don’t use long tail K/W, I would recommend them to start doing so as something is really much better than nothing. They might be losing their traffic while targeting short or competitive k/ws.

  • A good webmaster should implement all the SEO tactics that are required and long tail keywords is one of them. However most webmasters neglect them due their complexity and rare usage. But its importance cannot be neglected.

  • I concur, this works staggeringly well when you can discover a head term that yields hundreds and in a few cases many long-tail varieties. I’ve seen destinations rank page one for over a thousand long-tails expresses at 2-30 pursuits a month. The volume can get overpowering.

  • Thanks for an awesome post Kris. I’ve heard about long tail vs short tail keywords before, but I never gave them much thought afterwards. Your post made them easy to understand and gave me a good idea of how I can begin working to implement them into my website. Thanks! 🙂

  • The longtail is definitely an important part of SEO. I think people using those long tail queries are often much closer to converting. Most of the time they know exactly what they want to know or do and you can tackle them when they are in that buying/converting mindset.

  • To begin with, these more wide-ranging terms allow us to a couple of things including expanding our reach and aiming for a higher volume of people. It’s impossible to think of every way possible for someone to search for a specific topic, so understand by setting a head term in broad match helps us to get in front of an audience that we would have never found and targeted with long-tail keywords.

  • The use of keywords can be beneficial and deteriorating at the same time. Nice keywords can take you at the top while keywords that are not proper can make huge losses to us. Thanks a lot for telling the importance of long tail keywords in SEO. Also I loved the distinction that you made on two types of keywords which will definitely help to enhance my knowledge.

  • How wrong is it to target seo stop words as keywords? I had seemingly found a low-comp keyword phrase with one stop word in it. However I don’t seem to be getting any traffic just yet.

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