Long-Tail Keyword Phrases

11.01.2016 |

Episode #3 of the course “SEO Fundamentals” by HubSpot Academy


If you’re feeling stumped and can’t think of any keywords to add to your list, expand your keyword list by searching the web for alternatives.

Try typing one of your keywords into a search engine and see what the results are.
In this example, you’re looking at the keyword “boat names.” When you type this into Google, it autocompletes for other popular keyword phrases, like “boat name generator,” “boat name lettering,” and “boat name ideas.”

You can also look for alternatives under the different search options in Google, like image search or video.

In this example, you can see that by looking under video search, “applying a new boat
name” is a related keyword phrase, as is “funny names” and “hand-lettering.”

You can also use a tool like keyword.io or the Google webmaster tools to get suggestions.

Add all of the alternatives that relate to your business and buyer persona to your keyword list.

Next, determine which keywords people are already using to find your site. Some search engines, like Google, have encrypted their organic search data so that those keywords are hidden, which makes this trickier to do. But you can use analytics tools like Google Webmaster or HubSpot Sources to get some insights.

Finally, decide which keywords you have the best opportunity to rank for. Remember—lots of other websites are trying to rank for any given keyword, and only 10 can make it to the first page of search results. Some keywords are just going to be harder than others.

Think about it. What would happen if you searched for the keyword “shoes”? Well, you’d end up with results for all different kinds of shoes—men’s, women’s, sneakers, and sandals, and only the biggest companies would be on the top of the results.

A keyword like “shoes” is referred to as a short or broad keyword, because that’s exactly what it is—short and broad in scope.

If a small store specialized in sneakers, it would be harder for them to rank for “shoes.” There’s lots of competition around it, and some very popular, trustworthy sites are filling up the top spots. The keyword is also very general; the small store wouldn’t get any qualified visitors from it.

But let’s say you searched for something more specific, like “best women’s running shoes for flat feet.” You’d get more specific results that would better answer your question.

This more specific keyword phrase is called a long-tail keyword, because it’s a string of related words that look like a long tail! It’s significantly easier to rank for because it’s more specific and targeted, not to mention that the people searching for that long-tail keyword know what they’re looking for, meaning they’re qualified visitors who are more likely to turn into leads and customers.

But just because you’re selecting a long-tail keyword doesn’t mean that ranking high will be easy. It’s important to understand how difficult it is to rank for each keyword, regardless of length.


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