Targeting long-tail keywords in your SEO campaigns can deliver amazing results in the form of highly qualified ‘buyer-intent’ traffic, which generates more leads due to higher conversion rates.

Far too many people are focused only on the search volume of a particular keyword and they completely ignore the relevance and intent behind the keyword. Having thousands of visitors hitting your website every day sounds great, but if they aren’t converting they are completely useless.

So, what is a long-tail keyword? Let me give you a quick example.

We will use a weight loss clinic in Los Angeles, California as an example.

Keywords like “weight loss doctors” and “weight loss clinic” will have high search volumes. According to Google’s Keyword Planner, “weight loss doctors” receives upwards of 10,000 searches a month and “weight loss clinic” is upwards of 100,000 monthly searches.

Now, the odds of ranking for those keywords is slim to none — that is without a multi-million dollar content marketing and SEO budget.

So, to be competitive and pull in organic traffic, you have to think long-tail. Keywords like “weight loss doctors near Los Angeles” and “weight loss clinic in Los Angeles” are still going to be competitive, but they are going to be more realistic in terms of ranking potential.

Also, they are going to deliver a higher quality visitor. Even if you were able to rank for those terms with massive search volume, the traffic isn’t going to convert highly. Unless the person is local to Los Angeles it’s useless.

Targeting long-tail keywords has a slow ramp up phase, but once you get going and develop a system it can lead to a snowball effect. Ranking number one for a keyword that attracts 10 searches a month doesn’t sound appealing until you learn that it converts at 10%, delivering one client.

Then, when you start to scale, and rank for 100 of those type of terms, all converting highly, you see that long-tails are not only easier to rank for, but they drive the highest possible traffic, quality-wise, to your website. Good content and solid onsite SEO combined with a few high quality links is usually all it takes to rank these high converting terms too.

Trust me, you want to make long-tail keywords part of your SEO strategy now more than ever. Let me jump right into why this is the case.


Voice Search Makes ‘Real Language’ Long-Tail Keywords Highly Lucrative

As how we use the internet evolves, so does the strategy we implement in order to continue to be found in Google’s search results, as its algorithm is always changing.

But, as the internet evolves, so do the way we search along with the devices we use to access information. Voice search is so convenient, so naturally consumers are going to quickly adapt to it and as more people try it they will see how much easier it is.

There is no need to open a browser on a mobile device and type. You just talk into your phone, as a question, and see the results. It’s seconds faster, and every saved second is a reason to opt for a voice search over traditional Google searches. So, in addition to optimizing your SEO for long-tail Google searches, you need to optimize for long-tail voice searches. Let me explain.


Along with Google You Need to Focus on Alexa and Siri (Voice Search)

When someone performs a voice search they aren’t using short ‘exact match’ keywords. They are using sentences, as in real conversation sentences. So, when you create content you need to optimize it for Google search terms, as well as long-tail complete sentence searches, which is designed to target voice search.

The good news is that most voice searches are location-based, so it’s much easier to create long-tail purpose content that satisfies traditional and voice search optimization needs. Now, don’t mistake this for me claiming that voice search is going to make traditional search obsolete, because that won’t happen anytime soon.

It’s just important that you understand how you can focus on long-tail keywords and search phrases to help you attract quality traffic from multiple platforms now. Search has more human-elements now than it ever has.

No longer can you build links and optimize for a keyword like “flower shop” for a local florist in Dallas, Texas. Traditional search needs to target long-tail keyword variations like “flower shop in Dallas” or “local florist in Dallas,” while voice search is going to me more conversational-style long-tails like, “local florist in Dallas that sells roses” and “flower shop in Dallas that is open on Saturday.”


The Future of Voice Search is Gray so Preparation is Key

There has been so many articles published recently about voice search and optimizing for Alexa and Siri, and while it’s good to speculate, it’s also important to understand that nobody knows how it will evolve.

Will it be big? Will it be a game changer? Of course, but how it will all unfold is a mystery.

Will voice search become so dominant that all old content optimized for traditional search becomes useless? It’s possible. The best defense against uncertainty is preparation. And that includes putting a lot of effort into long-tail keywords and ‘human language’ search strings and queries.

I can promise you that if you are proactive and start targeting these types of long-tail keywords and search phrases now you will be prepared and in a much better position than you would be if you sit back and wait to see how it all unfolds. Now is the time to get ahead of the competition in terms of preparation.



Locally-Focused Long-Tail Keywords Help You Compete Against ‘Big Boy’ Competition

If you focus your SEO strategy on local keywords you can compete against the largest brands, just on a much smaller scale. Google search is quickly evolving into a more location-based solution.

Just look at the local results these days, and how much they have changed over the years. Just a couple years ago there was the “local map pack” and it was big news when that would change in terms of how many results were displayed on top. It bounced around, from ten, five, three, etc.


Local Search Results Even With No Local-Intent

Now, even if your search isn’t local-specific, you are going to have local results returned to you. If you search something broad like “best pizza,” and you are in San Diego, you’re going to get local pizza restaurants in the Map results and then very local-specific articles published by local media, like “Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in San Diego” style articles, to various directories, like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Foursquare.

They key here is that the results are all location-based, even though one wasn’t specified. Google’s algorithm assumes that if you are searching from San Diego, then you want to know where the best pizza is located in that specific city, and not Miami, for example.

This new trend and change gives you a major advantage, across all niches and for businesses that sell services to those that sell products. The SERPs used to be dominated by the ‘big boy’ brands, like Amazon and Walmart for retail, and the major media outlets like Forbes and HuffPost for anything related to services or information.

Now that is just not the case any longer, and if you look at how many of the large media sites are laying off writers and cutting staff, it’s a very good indication that they are losing even more organic visibility as Google really focuses its algorithm on location-based results.


Google Search is Changing Rapidly: Be Prepared or Be Left Behind

Less organic traffic for these media outlets that once dominated, generates less advertising revenue, requiring cutbacks just to stay afloat.

So, what can you do to create long-tail keywords that have location intent in them? Here are some simple ways to consider:

Make sure you optimize your content by including long-tail variations that include city, state and zip code, along with a phone number. All of this comes into play, and it’s going to benefit you tremendously as Google’s algorithm becomes even more advanced.

Example: if there are two results that the algorithm considers “relevant” based on the location, but one was also optimized for the phone number, don’t you think Google will be smart enough to match the area code with the location? Of course it will. That result then becomes more relevant and likely to be what the user is looking for, resulting in Google displaying it above the other similar result.

Speculation? Yes, a little. But when you consider how search has changed just in the last year alone you will understand that thinking like this isn’t so far-fetched.

Locally-focused long-tail keywords have much less competition right now because not everyone sees the opportunity or is paying close enough attention to how the SERPs are changing. I look at the SERPs daily and I’m constantly seeing new changes. It’s advancing at a rapid rate — unlike anything the SEO industry has every experienced prior.

I’m telling you — don’t sleep on this. The sooner your focus shifts to long-tail keywords with location variables, the more prepared you will be for what’s around the corner.



Long-Tail Specific ‘Intent’ Keywords Drive the Highest Quality Traffic

Not all keywords relevant to a specific niche, product, or service all have the same intent. It’s important that you are able to distinguish the keywords that have information seeking intent from those that have conversion intent.

Knowing how to categorize these will help you plan your strategy, allowing you to allocate the majority of your effort on those terms that are more likely to bring traffic that will convert.

Do you want to also target information seeking keywords and search phrases? Yes, because you have the opportunity to attract traffic that might be a little cooler in terms of how ready they are to pull the trigger, but you can get them introduced to your business and maybe even get them into your funnel at the top stage.

There are three stages of intent when it comes to online searches:


  • Initial information seeking: These are people that are showing interest in an item or service. They are nowhere close to buying, but they are interested in learning more.


  • Common questions and concerns: These are consumers that are beyond the tire kicking stage and are close to making a purchase decision. They might have a few specific questions before they pull the trigger.


  • Wallet-out and ready to convert: These are buyers with their wallet in hand, ready to make a purchase. This is the highest quality visitor there is, as the odds of them converting into a sale are high.

Let’s show you some examples to help you understand.


Examples of information seeking long-tail keywords:

  • XXXX information and reviews
  • consumer reviews of XXXX
  • pictures of XXXX


Examples of questions and concerns long-tail keywords:

  • what is the warranty on XXXX
  • does XXXX have good ratings with the BBB
  • are there any product recalls for XXXX
  • opinions on the performance of XXXX


Examples of wallet-out purchase-ready long-tail keywords:

  • where is the best deal on XXXX
  • active coupon code for XXXX
  • who has the lowest price on XXXX
  • best sale price on XXXX


Now, all of those examples above will have a much lower search volume than any more generic or broader keywords, but they have lower competition and you can rank for them with a lot less work.

The key is to constantly add long-tail keywords to your campaign. You have to constantly create new content and optimize it, both on-page and off-page. It’s a lot of work, but over time it will produce long-lasting results. It turns into a snowball, and your conversions exponentially increase.

If you have a lot of content on your website you need to start paying close attention to your Google Search Console data. You can see every single search that triggered your website to display in the organic search results.

You see the search, and the specific URL it triggered and what position it showed at. By monitoring this you can find new long-tail keywords to go after. If you are ranking for some long-tail keywords without any effort, imagine what will happen if you just optimize on-page for those terms.

This is the easiest way to find new long-tail targets that you know are being searched. Even if each one only has 20 to 30 monthly searches, if you rank on top for all of them your traffic numbers will continue on an upward growth chart.



Final Thoughts

Many people only look at sheer traffic numbers when analyzing an SEO effort, but that is not how to correctly determine its success.

Here is an example.

Let’s imagine you owned an e-commerce website that sold a single product and you were getting 10,000 visitors a month, but only converting at 0.5%. That would mean you are selling 50 units a month.

Now, by switching it up and going after long-tail keywords your traffic might drop significantly. Let’s pretend it is cut in half, resulting in 5,000 visitors a month, but now you are converting at 5% because the traffic is more qualified. That is 250 sales, which is five times what they were before with just half the traffic volume.

Long-tail keywords might not have the initial appeal of more generic terms with massive search volume, but when you combine their ease-of-ranking compared to the more generic terms and the quality of traffic the bring, it becomes clear that they are worth pursuing.

What are your thoughts on long-tail keywords? Have you targeted them in the past? What has your experience been with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as questions, so drop a comment below.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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