How long-tail keywords can supercharge your SEO strategy

26th September 2023

Using long-tail keywords to supercharge your SEO strategy

Like it or not, the digital age is built around search engines. They’re the beating heart of information sharing online. The visibility and potential success of your digital business relies on them – and nowhere is this more prevalent than with your keyword strategy.

Through keywords, information can be categorised correctly by search engines and other algorithms, for audiences to subsequently find and consume information online. Get it right, and watch as your search rankings climb the proverbial ladder towards greater exposure and readership over time. Fail to focus on your critical keywords, however, and – well, have you ever searched on page three of Google?

Of these keywords, long-tail can often be the most effective to deploy. But what exactly are long-tail keywords and why should you care about them?

What is keyword length?

There are three types of keywords: short-tail, mid-tail and long-tail.

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keywords or phrases used in search engines. These are search terms that users and visitors are much more likely to use when they are closer to a point of purchase. Or, when they are using voice search.

Generally, a long-tail keyword is around three to five words. The longer the keyword, the more targeted it can be.

For example, a short-tail keyword or ‘head term’ could be  ‘pizza’. This would have an extremely high search volume and potentially answer a wide search intent.  However, it’s also an extremely broad keyword and is unlikely to give you the specific answers you’re looking for (unless you just want to know the dictionary definition of pizza…and who doesn’t know that, right?)

A mid-tail keyword would be ‘gluten-free pizza’. This is more specific. It would see a reduction in search volume, but increased engagement due to its specificity.

Long-tail keywords are even more detailed. This would be ‘Best gluten-free pizza recipes for vegetarians.’ This is a highly tailored and specific keyword designed to better reflect how search engine users make queries.

So why the term ‘long-tail? Because if you were to plot out the search terms from any given month on a graph, it would create a left-to-right curve moving down and across, like an animal’s long tail.

Why are long-tail keywords important?

Targeted search phrases match search intent. So, with highly specific and targeted long-tail keywords, you are better at presenting yourself and your business to new audiences and customers.

In the highly competitive keyword ranking ecosystem, the more you can match search intent, the better. This will mean that search engine users can better find your business and your content, over that of your competition.

By using longer, less competitive keywords, businesses can boost their chances of appearing higher up on search engine results pages. This can drive traffic to your website in greater volumes, leading to customer interactions and potential conversions.

‘Matching search’ – what does it mean?

If you are unaware of the term ‘matching search’, think of it in the context of user experience.

In shaping and implementing an effective long-tail keyword strategy you are creating an enhanced user experience for your potential customers. This is an indirect user experience, but it can be hugely effective when deployed correctly

Think back to a time when you used a search engine to find a new product or service. Did your location combine with a top-of-page result that immediately matched what you were looking for?

If so, that business has used long-tail keywords to match your search intent, attract your attention, direct you to their website and potentially convert your intent into a sale or a conversation.

This kind of SEO strategy has become even more important, following some core updates from Google.

What does Google think?

In March 2023, Google released a core update that furthered the search engine giant’s commitment to returning relevant results from searches.

In short, it resulted in previously top-ranking pages and results taking a significant hit.  By leveraging more long-tail keywords, businesses can either re-build their SERP strategy to regain their pole positions, or they can use them to usurp the positions of competitors that have fallen down the rankings.

Long-tail strategies and tactics

Long-tail keywords almost always have less traffic, but don’t be fooled into thinking this makes them less effective.

In having less traffic, they are less competitive and will usually come with a much higher conversion rate. Think of this in the same way as your sales and marketing funnel,

 – those at the end of the journey are more likely to make a purchase than those at the  start.

Ways to find and utilise long-tail keywords for your advantage include:

  • Monitor search volume data: use search data in your Google Search Console to identify which long-tail searches you already appear in, making note of related keywords
  • Use keyword research: use keyword research tools (such as Ahrefs and SemRush to find long-tail keywords that you aren’t currently making the most of
  • Create content using relevant keywords: create different content formats – from landing pages to blogs – with long-tail keywords included strategically
  • Rank tracking: keep a close eye on whether your content is improving your ranking in searches related to your target keyword phrase



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