Develop a Long-tail Search Strategy

I’m often asked what can be done to improve a site’s traffic. The question usually goes one of two ways: Why aren’t people coming to my site? Or, why aren’t my visitors converting?

Either way, the answer usually centers around – Your search strategy kinda sucks.

A solid search strategy is key to online marketing success and the lynchpin to successful search engine optimization or paid search marketing is the long-tail keyword.


What is Long-tail?

By its simplest definition, a long-tail keyword is one that consists of three or more words. These search phrases tend to be much more valuable to search strategy and yield a higher ROI than broad, single-word search terms for a number of reason. The word “long-tail,” in this context, refers to the shape of a distribution graph between the number of search results for a search phrase in relation to the number words in the phrase (it looks like a tail…).


Strategically, long-tail keywords are a better way to connect with customers. How so? Long-tail keywords are more descriptive and tend to be more relevant to specific products, services or goals than a single word is. They’re also in better alignment with searchers who may be further down in your sales funnel than broad, high volume search terms. For example:


Search Phrase Length (words) Search Results
furniture one word 733,000,00+
couch potato two words 2,600,000
armoire one word 26,600,00
handmade custom cherry loveseat four words (only) 310,000!


Each of these terms has something to do (in one form or another) with home furnishings. For a business specializing in custom, one-off pieces of furniture, which would be a more relevant keyword to target in their search engine optimization and pay per click efforts? Which do you think would be more likely to convert to an inquiry relevant to the product they offer? Which term would have less competition and be easier to rank? The long-tail keyword “handmade custom cherry loveseat, for sure!


Building a Killer Long-tail Search Strategy

So with these facts in mind, how do we go about building that killer long-tail keyword strategy that will drive highly relevant and converting traffic to a website? Here’s five tips to get you started:


Data mine your existing traffic

With tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools it’s possible to see which search terms and phrases are already bringing traffic to your site. Filter this data to see which long-tail search phrases drive both traffic and conversions. Consider this data to be your lowest hanging fruit for doing on-page optimizations.


Use Keyword Research and Planning

Use a keyword planning tool, like Google’s Keyword Planner to find ideas for long-tail keywords to include in your search strategy. Start by using a broad term and tweaking your setting to find keyword ideas closely related to your search.


From here, copy the most relevant keyword ideas and run another search on these individually to generate long-tail keyword ideas! Incorporate these long-tail suggestions into your search strategy for both SEO and PPC.




These are just two tools to keep your arsenal to build a killer, non-sucky, long-tail keyword strategy.

Leveraging long-tail keywords might not generate gobs of server-crushing traffic overnight, but the visitors you do attract will be in much better alignment with your products, services and marketing goals. Implemented over time, you should begin to see a steady increase in targeted, relevant traffic to your site.

This will also translate into better paid search results with higher click-thru rates and better organic search results. Additionally, because visitors generated from long-tail keywords fit your ideal customer profile better, the feedback you get from this segment of traffic will provide deeper customer insights to help guide you with decisions on new products or features to add.

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