Let’s face it – the Internet is flooded with tons of articles claiming numerous benefits you can potentially get when targeting long tail keywords. But what those articles lack most of the time is real-world, practical examples that can give you a clear idea of what long tail keywords actually are and how you can apply them in your SEO strategy.
In this post we’re going to fix this omission and give you long tail keyword examples taken from real-world case studies. But before we continue, I just want to quickly remind you what long tail SEO is all about (feel free to skip this chapter and head over straight to the example #1 if you are already well-familiar with the theory).
The most important qualities that you should pay attention to when researching keywords are:
Competition. Long tail keywords are much easier to target compared to generic “head” keywords. Sometimes, it may be quite enough just to optimize a web-page with properly selected long tail keywords to get into the Top 10 of Google’s search engine results page (SERP), even without getting any backlinks.
Relevancy. Long tail search phrases are highly relevant to specific niches and usually reflect searcher’s intent more precisely compared to generic phrases.
For example, let’s consider a generic keyword – “shoes”. Not only the keyword has an extremely high competition (over 621,000,000 of relevant pages found by Google), it doesn’t tell us anything about what a user is actually looking for. Is it men’s or women’s shoes, sneakers, pumps, hiking boots, fancy flats, or, maybe, sandals?
In contrast, a query “converse all star white women’s” gives us much more details. And if you sell this specific model, you may want to add the keyword to your basket.
Search Volume. The reverse side of relevancy is search volume. The more specific a keyword phrase is, the fewer visitors it can potentially bring to your website.
In our example, the average number of searches for the keyword “shoes” is 1,220,000. While the phrase “converse all star white women’s” has only 320 searches per month.
The good news, however, is that there may be tens or even hundreds of long tail keyword variations, which, when added up, can bring you a decent and stable flow of prospects. In our example such keyword variations include:
A bit earlier I’ve published an article – all about long tail SEO. I highly recommend reading it if you’re still not convinced whether the long tail SEO strategy can be applied to your website or blog.
Long Tail Keywords: Example #1
GroupDocs.Comparison for Cloud is a web-based application that allows you to compare common document types, including PDF, Microsoft Word and Excel directly in a web-browser and without having to install any software.
When promoting this application, I highly relied on an organic search campaign.
One of the challenges in this campaign was the fact that the application supports multiple file types, meaning that the number of keywords that need to be targeted multiplies by the number of supported file formats. In other words, each file format (PDF, Word, Excel) has its own set of keywords that needs to be targeted.
Here are a few of keyword examples: “compare PDF files”, “compare Word documents”, “compare two Excel spreadsheets”, etc.
A possible way to handle this could be to create individual landing pages for each of the file formats and then target appropriate keywords on them. For example, all PDF-related keywords can be targeted on one page, while all Word-related keywords – on another.
In most cases, I would stick with this approach. But since the client’s website was already too complex to browse (there are 6 different applications, each of which supports over 50 file formats), we’ve decided to target all “profitable” file types on a single web-page – the main product’s page.
Another challenge was the fact that there were a lot of desktop-based document comparison solutions on the market (including free ones). We didn’t want to compete with them in the organic search, since that doesn’t make any sense – even if we outrank all those apps, it is highly unlikely that users will prefer GroupDocs.Comparison over the free alternatives. Our goal was not just to generate visits, but to generate qualified leads that could potentially convert to customers.
As a result, we ended up with the following major keyword research prerequisites:
- Support for multiple file types, so a large keyword basket that needs to be targeted on a single web-page.
- Focus on a web-based and cross-platform market to avoid unnecessary competition with desktop applications.
The only way to fulfill these requirements was to apply a long tail SEO strategy.
For each supported file format I conducted a keyword research and outlined the most relevant and potentially profitable keywords. In this example I will list PDF-related keywords only. Otherwise, this post will grow too long.
The keyword research algorithm was pretty simple:
- First, I wrote down all relevant keyword variations that came to my mind. For example:
compare pdf files
compare two pdf documents
compare pdfs online
pdf comparison tool
compare 2 pdf files online
- Next, I used these ideas as seed keywords in Keyword Planner to find as many phrase variations as possible. Update: due to the recent Google updates, Keyword Planner is nowhere useful anymore for getting keywords’ search volume estimates. Here at HitTail, we’ve just released a new feature that gives more accurate results when searching for long tail keywords, so we’re welcoming everyone to try it out.
- Once I’ve got a list of over 150 relevant keywords, I did a qualitative and quantitative keyword competition analysis for the top keywords that have the highest number of searches and ended up with the following table:
- Global Monthly Searches – shows how often people searched for a keyword worldwide.
- InTitle – the number of pages with the keyword in the Title tag. Basically, this shows how many competitors target that exact keyword phrase.
- InTitle to Search Ratio – the number of pages with the keyword in the Title tag divided by the number of searches per month. The lower the ratio, the fewer competitors you need to outrank to get a single visit.
As you can see from the table above, the first four keywords consist of 2-3 words, have the highest number of monthly searches (over 1k) and relatively high competition level. These are classic examples of generic “head keywords”.
Since our goal was to target only prospects who are looking for a web-based solution (e.g. wants to compare files in a web-browser without having to install any software), targeting these generic head keywords would be a waste of time and client’s budget.
Instead, I focused on long tail keywords that reflect searchers’ intent and match product’s features better. Such keywords appeared to be the following:
compare pdf files online
compare pdf online
compare two pdf files online
These keywords are highlighted with a green font in the table above.
Please note how much less web-pages that have these specific keywords in their Title tags are there.
For example, there are 144 times less pages that target the long tail keyword “compare pdf online”, than those that target the head keyword – “compare pdf”.
A similar research has been conducted to find keywords for the rest of the popular document formats.
As a result, I’ve got a set of 11 highly relevant keywords and managed to bring GroupDocs.Comparison into Google’s Top 10 with all of them by just following standard on-page optimization techniques:
This example clearly shows how valuable long tail keywords really are. If your website is new or your domain has a low authority (DA), there is just no other way to quickly get organic search traffic other than by targeting keywords highly specific to your niche.
Long Tail Keywords: Example #2
Banckle.Chat is a web-based support application that allows you to add a live chat widget to your website and provide live help to your website visitors. They’ve been running an AdWords paid search campaign, but couldn’t get a positive ROI for quite a long time.
One of the reasons to this is an extremely competitive environment that Banckle operates in. When researching Banckle competitors’ marketing activities, I found around 90 companies that offer similar software.
By the time I conducted the research, the total budget of all PPC (per pay click) campaigns running by the competitors estimated to around $350k per month.
Having a maximum CPC (cost per click) as high as $5.50 per 1 click, Banckle ads had an average position as low as 5.9. In fact, many of the keywords that Banckle targeted had a minimal first page bid price of $9 per 1 click. Note that this is not a first position bid, but first page, which means that they had to pay even more to get a good position on the first page among their competitors.
After the research has been finished, we had a detailed plan on how to raise the AdWords campaign’s ROI.
One of the key points was to revise campaign’s keyword basket, remove generic phrases that have multiple semantic meanings, and redistribute campaign’s budget in favor of more specific, highly relevant search terms.
Here are several examples of generic keywords that we’ve removed from the campaign:
What’s the problem with these particular keywords?
According to Wikipedia:
“Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet that offers a real-time transmission of text messages from sender to receiver.”
So, when a person hits “live chat” or “online chat” in Google, he/she may actually be looking for:
- Instant messaging software, like Skype, Google Hangouts, or AIM
- Chat websites/rooms
- Online dating services
- Collaborative software
- Live chat support software
Although these keywords have a lot of monthly searches, targeting them with a paid search campaign is cost-inefficient. Such keywords bring a lot of irrelevant traffic, have low conversion rate and, hence, burn out campaign’s budget with little to no ROI.
Another example of generic keywords includes:
Again, it is not clear what a person is looking for here. Is it some online help service, or live support software?
Since there are so many semantic meanings, we’ve limited Banckle’s AdWords campaign with long tail keywords that contain at least three of the following words:
“help” OR “support” OR “customer service”
“live” OR “online” OR “chat”
“software” OR “widget” OR “for website”
And here are a few examples of the keywords we’ve got thanks to the adjustments:
These are classic long tail keyword examples. Each of them:
- Consists of 3+ words
- Have a low number of monthly searches
- Highly relevant to a specific niche
- Have high conversion rate and bring qualified leads
After implementing these and other adjustments, we’ve managed to increase Click Conversion Rate by around 167% and reduce Cost per Converted Click by 60%.
What’s Your Experience with Long Tail Keywords?
Do you have any positive or negative examples of targeting long tail keywords? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Also, I’ve just added a detailed guide on how to find long tail keywords and am welcoming everyone to read it here.