A Simple Explanation of Long-Tail Keywords

In Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by Matt Chiera

Keywords are a key component of search marketing, but what is a long-tail keyword, and why are they important?

First, a keyword (in the context of search engine optimization and marketing) is a word or phrase that someone types into a search engine (like Google) to find websites and web content related to that word or phrase. A long-tail keyword is a precise multi-word keyword phrase, typically three words or more, that someone types into a search engine. For example, let’s assume that someone is looking for one of the many stellar tourist attractions in Chicago.

They might type in something like:

“tourist attractions in Chicago” is a long-tail keyword

“Tourist attractions in Chicago” is a precise multi-word search phrase that accurately reflects the intent of the user: to find tourist attractions in Chicago. So why is this so important for search engine optimization and marketing? The answer lies in this simple graph:

The Search Demand Curve

Source: https://moz.com/

The far left of the graph represents “fat head” keywords, for example, the word “Chicago.” These types of single-word searches account for a small percentage of all Google searches while long-tail keywords i.e. “tourist attractions in Chicago” account for roughly 70% of all searches. In a nutshell, long-tail keyword searches are hundreds of millions of unique multi-word searches that in some cases might be searched only a few times in a day, but, when taken together, comprise the majority of the world’s search volume.

For marketers, because with long-tail keywords the consumer is searching for something specific, long-tail keywords are typically higher converting and less competitive than fat head keywords. From an organic ranking (the free listings in Google) perspective, long-tail keywords are not only easier to rank a website for (because they are less competitive), but also are also likely more targeted to exactly what a user is searching for to find a particular product, service, or information – for example: “custom home builders Boston” or “how to unclog a bathroom sink with vinegar and baking soda.”

For search engine marketing e.g. Google Ads, bidding on long-tail keywords is an important strategy since the cost-per-click (the amount an advertiser pays if someone clicks on their ad) to an ad is inevitably lower since there’s less competition. Bidding on long-tail keywords also allows advertisers to only show ads for the exact keywords that customers are typing into Google to find their product or service.

About the Author
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Matt Chiera

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Matt Chiera is the Founder and CEO of Ice Nine Online. Since forming the company in 2014, he’s helped Ice Nine Online’s small and mid-size clients generate millions of dollars in sales from digital marketing. Matt taught digital marketing strategy and tactics at the Tribeca School’s Digital Professional Institute. Matt’s book “Digital Marketers Sound Off” has been ranked as the #1 book in the Web Marketing category on Amazon.

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