Where It All Begins: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
The concept of the Long Tail applied to the SEO originated from the book The long tail. From a mass market to a mass of markets by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine.
In his bestseller, translated into over 30 languages, Anderson proposes a theory on how the Internet has overturned the traditional distribution and communication mechanisms of business models.
By analyzing the economic model of Amazon, Ebay and other ecommerce, Anderson noted how a number of low-popularity articles collectively generate more traffic and sales than a small number of highly popular articles.
Long Tail and SEO
How does the economic concept of Long Tail apply to SEO? Similarly to Amazon and Ebay, i.e. by making sure that it is generated a large amount of traffic to the site from specific, long-tail keywords That's right.
Let's start by seeing what is meant by long tail keywords and what are the pros and cons of this approach.
Examples of long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are defined as keywords made up of several terms. But how long should a keyword be to fall into this category? The answer could be: 4 terms and up.
For example, if "hotel Venezia" can be considered a short-tail keyword, at the opposite end of the spectrum an extension of it such as "hotel Venezia 3 stelle vicino stazione Santa Lucia", can be considered a full-fledged long-tail keyword.
The 4 advantages of long tail keywords
#1 They are (usually) less competitive
The first aspect in favor of long tail keywords is that are usually less competitive than short keywords. In general, in SEO, the longer and more specific a keyword is, the easier it is to position it. And if it's easy to rank for, that means less cost, as we'll see in a moment.
#2 They are (usually) less expensive
The second aspect in favour of the use of long tail keywords is the cost: in SEO, a lower difficulty in positioning the keyword leads to a lower cost. cost savings in terms of time and possible other costs (e.g. the notorious buying and selling of links); on the other hand, in Google Adslower competitiveness could translate into a lower cost per click.
#3 Convert (usually) more
Long tail keywords, being more specific, reveal a specific user search intent and therefore a higher chance of conversion. To clarify this concept let's take a practical example.
What's the difference between a user typing "camera" into Google and another typing "Canon EOS 450d"? We're looking at a typical example of a long tail keyword (the second one) versus a short keyword.
Intuitively, we can assume that the user searching for "Canon EOS 450d" has the key ideas about the product they are looking for, in our case a Canon branded SLR, model 450d, as opposed to the user searching for a generic "camera".
It is therefore plausible that, given the specificity of the search for a keyword such as "Canon EOS 450d", the user who finds it among the results is more likely to make the purchase than the person who types "camera", who is probably looking for general information about the category of cameras, and therefore more distant in his search.sales funnel from the purchase phase.
#4 Generate more traffic
But are we really sure?
If we take a look at the two keywords used before to distinguish the long tail keywords, "hotel Venezia" and "hotel Venezia 3 stelle vicino stazione Santa Lucia", we notice a significant difference between local monthly searches in the Keyword Planning Tool of Google Ads:
As we can see from the screenshot, the two words differ significantly in terms of searches: from 18,100 of "hotel Venice" to 10 of "3 star hotel Venice near Santa Lucia station". Even considering a CTR higher for long tail keyword (perhaps as a result of a higher ranking due to lower competitiveness and greater specificity), the difference in visits to the site for the two words is still abysmal.
Do keywords generate more traffic? Let's look at 4 reasons why.
#1: Unity is Strength
We have seen how long tail keywords are less searched than short keywords. If this seems to be an unfavorable data for their use, it should be specified that the concept of long tail does not provide for the use of a single term, but of a large amount of long tail keywords, which together greatly increase the number of monthly searches.
#2: Most searches occur with long tail
Not only that: according to statistics published by MOZ, the large percentage of traffic is given by long tail keywords:
#3: Long tail keywords rank higher
If we then consider that long tail keywords, being less competitive, rank higher. If you add in the fact that, according to CTR statistics, keywords ranked higher get more clicksthe game is over: the alleged appearance Against of long tail keywords is being scaled down.
#4: One long tail keyword leads to another (like potato chips)
One keyword leads to another: when we rank with a long tail keyword, very often the traffic generated also comes from extensions of that wordas we will see in some of the case histories below.
At this point let's go over how to find long tail keywords.
How to find long-tail keywords: the 7 best tools
To find long tail keywords you can use traditional keyword research software, with a few more tricks. Let's start with the main one, the already mentioned Google Ads Keyword Planning Tool.
#1 Keyword Tool by Google Ads
Once logged into Google Ads, in the navigation you can select Tools / Keyword Planning Tool.
In the screen that appears, simply click on Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
At this point we can enter the short keyword in the field "Enter one or more of the following options / Your product or service".
From the two tabs that appear below you will need to choose "Keyword Ideas" and search there for long tail keywords.
#2 Google Suggest Tool
Above, comparing long tail keywords with those that are not, we gave the example of a long tail keyword, the 8 terms of "hotel Venezia 3 stelle vicino stazione Santa Lucia".
Well, this keyword was not found with the Keyword Planning Tool, but with another method that I will now present to you.
First, however, a premise is necessary: as much as the Keyword Planner Tool returns hundreds of keywords with associated monthly searches, finding the most relevant long-tail keywords from the initial search can be time consuming and exhaustingbecause it requires you to consult hundreds of keywords.
A shortcut can come from the Google Suggest. Once the keywords are entered, pressing the space bar, the tool displays long tail suggestions. For example, as we see from the image below, a search for "hotel venice" displays some suggestions. If we add "3" to the search, other suggestions are displayed, including "hotel venice 3 stars" which in turn brings among the suggestions "hotel venice 3 stars near station Santa Lucia".
The advice is to always check in the Keyword Planning Tool for any long tail keywords that emerge, so as to ascertain whether or not there are monthly searches.
If a long tail keyword, found with this tool, returns the usual dash (-) in the Planning Tool, you can decide not to include it in the list of long tail keywords to be placed.
An even faster alternative to Google Instant is KeywordTool.io, a free online tool that displays all Google Instant Tool occurrences for a given keyword on a single screen, giving you a large amount of long-tail keywords at a glance.
Also for the Italian market, you can use the free tool Ubersuggest: by entering the short keyword, a large number of keyword occurrences are displayed.
#5 Google Trends and Related Searches
Staying on the topic of Google, the Google Trends and Related Searches tool (particularly the Related and Explore sections) allows you to discover long-tail keywords and related trends.
#6 Forums and question portals
Other insights can come from forums (with a search using logical variables) and question portals such as Quora or Yahoo Answer. After identifying a possible keyword, it is advisable to check for monthly searches on the Keyword Planning Tool.
SeoZoom, the Italian SEO tool, can help you in your keyword research work by allowing you to find long tail keywords.
#8 Long Tail Pro
Long Tail Pro is an all-in-one SEO tool that has come a long way from the desktop keyword research application it once was.
With Long Tail Pro you can take a seed keyword and find all related sets of long-tail, high cost per click (CPC) keywords for your paid ad campaigns.
Some additional features of Long Tail Pro include competitive keyword research, daily keyword monitoring, a keyword-rich domain name finder, and a ranking value that determines keyword profitability.
This suite of unique features is not free, but offers a free trial to test its functionality.
Long Tail and SEO: 5 Case Studies
Ok, let's come to the numbers. Let's start by saying that positioning yourself with long tail keywords does allow you to increase your visitors, but above all that they are targeted, that is, potentially interested in the product or service that I am selling and, as we have seen, in an advanced stage of the funnel of purchase.
Let's start with the first case history.
ContentVerveThanks to a single article placed in 2nd position on the first page for the keyword "call to action examples", it managed to generate 1000 clicks on 4500 impressions monthly:
Not only that, as is often the case, the article also managed to rank for more extensive variants of the keyword, such as call-to-action test, call-to-action case study...
TresnicMedia managed to increase the traffic to the site by 1000% in 8 weeks, thanks to the publication of 50 themed contents on long tail keywords.
BlogKoriThanks to the publication of content themed on long tail keywords such as "get a free Mastercard from Bangladesh" or "ways for teens to make money online", the site has been able to significantly increase traffic.
#4 River Pools and Spa
With only one article placed for the keyword "problems with fiberglass pools", the site www.riverpoolsandspas.com managed to generate 5,000 visits in one year, given by the long tail keyword and other similar ones.
# 5 Neil Patel Blog
Thanks to a wise use of long tail keywords, without the use of link building, Neil Patel's blog was already heading in 2015 towards the 100,000 monthly visits (over 100% in 8 months) thanks to the publication of one article per week that ranks for dozens of long tail keywords.
We've reached the end of this post: we've seen where the definition of long tail comes from and how it is applied to the web, the advantages of long tail keywords, the 6 best tools to find them and 5 successful case histories with this strategy.
How about you using long tail keywords to improve your site's traffic and conversions? Let's talk about it in the comments!