Focusing on keywords with a long tail is an excellent SEO tactic. Long-tail keywords are keywords or key phrases that are more specific — and usually longer — than more commonly used keywords. Long-tail keywords get less search traffic, but usually have a higher conversion value as they are more specific. This allows you to gradually attract more traffic to your site and find new and motivated audiences.

Book: The long tail

While preparing this blog post, Joost encouraged me to read The long tail by Chris Anderson. This book discusses the emergence of markets (especially internet markets) with unlimited inventory. Chris Anderson discovered that the true form of demand, which is not filtered by the economy of scarcity, shows a very long tail. This means that the demand for virtually every niche exists, although this demand can become very small.

An example might be a jukebox with 10,000 songs. A very small number of songs are played very frequently, while a large number of songs are played very little. However, research shows that virtually all songs (about 98%) are played at some point. The demand for these songs (which are great) is very small, but it does exist. Almost every song will be played at some point. With the rise of the internet, potential audiences have become quite large, even though the product is only needed by a very small percentage of people. The vastness of the internet makes your niche product profitable and the position on keywords with long tails important.

The long tail book cover

Looking for keyword phrases? If you’ve set a focus keyword in Yoast SEO, you can now click on ‘Get Related Keyword Phrases’ and our SEMrush integration will help you find high-performing keyword phrases!

A long-tail keyword strategy can really help you when there is a lot of competition in your market. Or a lot of competition for the most important keywords you want to rank for. That said, most businesses or blogs can benefit from this strategy as it helps you attract visitors with a very specific search setup. Here I explain what long tail keywords are and how an understanding of your mission and product can help you come up with a long tail keyword strategy.

What are long tail keywords?

Long tail keywords are more specific and less common than others keywords. They focus more on a niche. The term long tail keyword come out of the book The long tail by Chris Anderson (see aside). In this book, Chris Anderson shows that there is a market for virtually any product. And although this market is really small in some cases, the scope of the internet makes your niche product or blog post profitable.

A main theme

Most blogs have one main topic – it is called the main term or main word. For example, mom blogs are usually about family life and food blogs are about eating, restaurant, or recipes. Our blog at Yoast is all about SEO. We even mentioned it SEO blog. So all our blog posts are about SEO or SEO related topics.

The main topic or theme of your blog or website is the number one keyword (or keyword) for which you want people to find you. In our case, the key word is of course SEO. Someone with a food blog about homemade Italian food will probably need to be found on the search term [homemade Italian food]. This makes the search term the keyword of their blog.

Lots of tail topics

But, you can not optimize all blog posts for the same term [homemade Italian food]. Though all the blog posts you write are about homemade Italian food. Instead, you should write a whole host of blog posts about all sorts of long-tail variants of your keyword. In the example of the food blog you can write about all kinds of delicious things: homemade Italian pasta, homemade Italian salads, homemade Italian pie.

Your blog posts can even be a long tail. You can write about homemade Italian spaghetti bolognese, homemade Italian lasagna, homemade Italian spaghetti carbonara and so on. You will find all these keywords with a long tail if you do it properly keyword research. If you get a lot of keywords with very long focus, you can use the check key length plug into us to see if they are too long.

focus on long tail keywords
Keywords are less specific and can be very competitive. Meanwhile, long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive.

Read more: What are long tail keywords? »

Examples of long tail keywords

As you can see in the examples below, a long-tail keyword does not have to have a specific length, nor does it need to include your keyword. That said, keywords with a long tail often contain about 3-5 words, and in many cases also contain the keyword.

Main keyword Long tail keywords
Nike Nike Air Max One
Nike’s Sustainability Policy
vintage nike shoes
Digital marketing How digital marketing works
User journey to digital marketing
B2B digital marketing services
Wedding supplies Wedding flower arrangements
Matching wedding dresses and bridesmaids
Wedding Supplies

If you are optimizing your blog post for different long tail variants, you should link some of these blog posts to your more ‘head’ category pages and some of these category pages to your most amazing pages: u cornerstone content. Remember: always switch from the tail to your head! This way you show Google who you are site structure looks and which of your pages is the most important. Make sure your most amazing pages are high in Google! Read more about how you can do this in our article internal link for SEO.

Why should you focus on long-tail keywords?

It is much easier to rank for long-tail keywords than for more general keywords, because fewer sites compete for high rankings on Google results pages. The longer (and more specific) your search terms are, the easier it is to rank the term. Because of the scope of the internet, it is easier to find your audience for your specific niche. Focusing on a group of keywords with a long tail can completely drive traffic.

Another benefit of focusing on long-tail keywords is that, although these keywords are used less in searches, the visitor who finds your site using them is more likely to buy your service or product.

Suppose I am looking for a new board game to enjoy family fun with my kids. I start my search with the term [board games]. After a bit of searching, I quickly discover that I want a board game that is suitable for children and has an educational element. My search continues, but now I use the terms [educational board games for kids]. Or if I know I’ll be in Amsterdam this week, I might even make it a local search term: [where to buy educational board games for kids in Amsterdam]. These are both keywords with a long tail. By using these keywords, I will find new results that are more in line with my search intent. The chances of me buying a board game have greatly increased through this more specific search.

How to find long tail keywords for your website

First, if you want to sell something, you simply have to have a good product. And you need to know thoroughly what your product or website can offer to your audience. What makes your product or blog special? If you know and understand this, it will be much easier to enjoy your audience and buy your stuff. So take a moment to think about the uniqueness of your product or blog and write it down.

So, why is your mission important?

Maybe you sell furniture. You offer unique pieces, made with recycled materials and that have a low impact on the environment. The uniqueness of your service can be to provide high quality furniture that helps people reduce their own impact on the environment. This is your mission, your niche, this is what you can offer to your audience. Make sure you write down your mission in words that your audience uses and understands.

Keep reading: How to write a mission statement for your website »

Competitiveness of the market

In some markets it is very difficult to rank. Some markets are just very competitive, with large companies dominating the search results. These businesses have a very large budget to spend on marketing in general and SEO in particular. The position in these markets is difficult. You can not compete with a small budget in a market like the furniture industry using search terms like [quality furniture].

If your mission is clear, you need to be able to define what makes your product or website different from this market. You should be able to do you find niche. And you must use your mission to start arranging! If I take my example of furniture made from recycled materials, it would mean you have to focus on the less competitive term [furniture recycled material]. Again, use words that your target audience uses (and avoid difficult terms).

Use your mission to define long-tail keywords

Your mission, in which you make clear what the wonder of your product, website or blog is, should be central in choosing the long-tail keywords you want to rank for. The terms you used to describe your mission can be well used to focus on your SEO strategy. These words should be central to the long tail keywords that your website wants to rank.

With your mission written down, you have already completed the first step of your keyword research. The next step is to compile a list of keywords. Try to get into the heads of your audience. What will these people look for? What search terms will they use when it comes to your product or website? It’s probably pretty easy to think of your main topic and main keywords, but it can be a little more challenging to find your keywords with a long tail. Our plug-in can help you with that!

Yoast SEO offers you suggestions for key phrases related to your focus word. This tool is designed to help you use related key phrases to reinforce your text, but can also be used to find your long-tail keywords. If you’re writing a post or page that focuses on one of the keywords you’ve been thinking of, simply click the ‘Get Related Keywords’ button below your focus field. You will see a list of suggested related keywords that your audience uses, which may also be appropriate long-tail keywords:

related key phrase feature in Yoast SEO

The example above shows key phrases related to the focus query [furniture recycled materials]. As you can see, the tool suggests related and more specific key phrases that are actually used by people searching online. It also shows you the search volume and search trend in the country of your choice. Quite a good tool, right? So look at how the related key phrase function work!

The next step: great content

I hope this article has shown you the incredible potential of long tail keywords. People who use the terms of your mission and find your website will be relatively small, but these people have the greatest chance of buying your product or becoming regular visitors. So it can be very profitable to rank your website for a specific term, but make sure that this specific term is very similar to the product you are selling to avoid disappointment.

You have already defined your mission, so let’s keep the momentum going! We still need to do some work before we can start with my favorite part of SEO: SEO copywriting. Before you start typing your amazing blog posts, check out the rest of the steps in our ultimate query research guide:

Read more: Keyword Research: The Ultimate Guide »

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