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Why are Long-Tail Keywords Good for SEO?

If you’re starting to take a serious look at your business’s search engine optimisation (SEO), you’ll no doubt be getting your head around keywords – the search terms your ideal customers are likely to put into Google when looking for the product or service you provide.

How are keywords used for SEO?

To give your website a stronger chance of being listed by search engines like Google, you need to include keyword phrases on your website. Google looks for these to find a ‘match’ that will be relevant to the searcher. It is one of the factors the search engine uses to choose which websites make it onto page one of the search results.

So, to optimise your website for search engines, you need lots of lovely keywords across your website – in well-written page content, headlines, image tags, your navigation menu, each page’s url, and in your meta data (the behind-the-scenes text you write that gives search engines a title and description of each page).

Of course, choosing the right keywords is critical – it’s absolutely worthwhile spending a good amount of time thinking about and researching what your target audience is likely to be searching. Don’t be too general here – the ideal website has a different main keyword for each page, so you should have a list of different keywords that are specific to every element of your business.

Pretty straightforward, right? What’s all the fuss about?!

The difficulty is, unless you’ve found a golden gap in the market and have zero competitors, there will be other businesses offering the same (or similar) product or service as you, and they’re probably using the same keywords.

Google won’t just find one or two websites that ‘match’ a search query, they’ll probably find thousands! Whilst there are other SEO tactics you can employ to make Google favour your website over another (that’s another topic), one way to reduce your SEO competition is to use long-tail keywords.

What does long-tail keyword mean?

As the name suggests, long-tail keywords are longer phrases than simpler, short-tail keywords. While short-tail keywords are broad terms, long-tail keywords are usually much more specific.

For example, if you sell bikes, the keyword ‘bike’ is a short-tail search term. A long-tail alternative would drill down into a more specific search someone may make, so it could be ‘mountain bike blue’ or ‘mountain bike shop in Leeds’, or even a specific brand, size and colour of bike.

Why use long-tail keywords?

Short-tail keywords are used in searches much more than long-tail keywords, so the websites that are listed in the search results for these terms have a lot more visibility and reach a lot of people. This also means there is a huge amount of competition and it’s much more difficult to rank highly in the search results – so you may be on page five or the results pages, or not get listed at all.

The advantage with long-tail keywords is that the competition is much lower, so you have a better chance at being listed higher up on the search results page.

While the long-tail keyword may be searched for less frequently, it's often the case that they’re actually more valuable because if the searcher is being very specific about what they’re looking for, their buying intent is usually higher – basically, they’ve done their research using short-tail keywords and now they’re searching specifically for the exact product or service they want.

Keyword research

To choose the right keywords for your business, there are lots of tools that will show you how many times a keyword is searched for and how difficult it will be to rank for that term.

Brainstorm the keywords (long and short) that are relevant to your business, and then put them into websites such as AhRefs and Moz to decide which ones you want to target.

These keyword tools will also give you suggestions, based on the terms you’ve come up with, so it’s a great way to explore your options.

It will take a lot of time to do this keyword selection process properly, but it is a wise investment of your resources to make, if you can.

If you’re finding it too complex, or you simply don’t have the time to do this task effectively, get in touch and I can take the pressure of by finding the best keywords for you.

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