What is Long Tail SEO? And what does it mean for my business?

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Dave Ashworth
on 26/2/13

This is the strategy of targeting longer tail search queries when using the search engines. These types of phrases are normally over four words in length and are typically used when the user knows what they are looking for. For example:

LED TV – Generic search term, which has loads of search volume, however is less likely to convert.

Sony 55-inch Widescreen SMART LED TV – Long tail search. The user knows what they are looking for and further down the conversion path.

How to see your current long tail traffic

To look at the number of long tail search queries you have, go into Google Analytics. Change the date range to 12 months and navigate to: Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic.

If you go to the bottom of the page and change the number of keywords to 25, then go to the URL and change Count%3D25/ to Count%3D5000/. This will display 5000 rows which should be enough. If it isn’t, then just up that number to cater for the amount of keywords you have.

Export this file out in a CSV and you will get a list with all of the data. In the cell G2 paste the following formula in:
 =IF(LEN(TRIM(A2))=0,0,LEN(TRIM(A2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A2," ",""))+1)
This will count the number of words in the cell.  If you then put a filter on this column you can quickly tally up number of words used.  Then export this out into a pie chart which will give you a visual break down of what keywords are most popular.

Breakdown of Long Tail Keywords

By targeting users that are further down the conversion path, you do not have to convince them to buy the product or service: You only have to convince them to buy it from you.

How to implement Long Tail SEO

Sounds simple doesn’t it? This type of strategy can only be successful if the foundations for the campaign have been set correctly. First things first, look at your head terms. Have they been targeted correctly? I know you will read this and think, “But you just spoke about the benefits of targeting long search queries?”  Yes I did, but for that to actually work to its fullest potential your campaign needs to have head terms for the site which are correctly targeted and optimised for.  The long tail strategy works off that strength that has been built up from these head terms.

So you will need to go through your site making sure that all of the targeted pages are optimised with the correct Meta information as well as the correct content. In addition, whilst you are there make sure there are a few calls to action with a phone number, contact form or email address. I will talk about creating a good landing page in another blog post soon.

The next step is to start adding content to the site. The easiest way to do this is by simply having a blog.  This way you can write about your industry and not have to edit (and potentially damage) pages you have on your existing site. While adding the blog posts you can link to the relevant service pages which helps build strength between the pages.

If you are thinking that your company doesn’t need a blog, you can just add it to the service pages of a site. It will work, but it means you will be potentially harming the chances of the service pages converting. I can guarantee that no-one wants to read more than they have to when they are looking to buy. You want to add relevant content to the site and you want to try and get into the mind of the user and how they search.

How do you find out what to write about?

A good way to do this is to log into Google Analytics and select a good date range of around 12 months.

Then, in Google Analytics navigate to: Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic.

Google Analytics Organic

This should give you all of the keywords that have brought traffic to the site. So how can we use this data to help us with content? Well in the search box, if you type in a “?” you will find all the keywords which were a question. You can use the secondary dimension feature to see what landing page they were going to.

The next step is to analyse and check the pages users are going to and see if the questions are being answered. If not, you have just found the titles of your first blog posts. You can also use “How”, “What”, “When” and “If” – most of these words will help find questions your visitors are asking.

When analysing the keywords, those that use “what” in their searches are trying to find answers to a question. This can be tied to the earlier stages of the conversion path. By adopting a remarketing strategy you can “follow” users after they have left your website to continue to advertise your products and services. In addition, promoting your activity on social media gives you the opportunity to remind visitors of your presence and encourages them to purchase when they may be further down the conversion path.

Conversion Funnel

By looking at the keywords that are driving users to the site you can identify if there are any areas which are weak or not generating as much traffic as you’d like. Again, adding this content to the blog will help with the strength and relevancy of your overall site.

If you have internal site search set up in Google Analytics, you will be able to look at how much interaction there is between users and the search box on your site. If there is little interaction with this then it usually means that the users are easily finding the information they need. The next stage then, is to analyse the queries that users are typing in which will give insight into the information that they are struggling to find as well as bounce and engagement rates.  If you can see that engagement is low within certain search terms, you either have no content on what they are looking for, or the content you have on there isn’t dealing with their needs.

Business Benefits

So you have read this far, you have seen how you can implement a long tail strategy but what are the benefits to your business?

Well firstly, by being relevant and providing users with the content they are looking for, you become a key figure within your industry. The relevancy will help you within the SERPs and it also helps with outreach opportunities.

The second benefit and the main one - as it will be affecting your bottom line - is that as you are targeting users that are further down the conversion path and buying cycle you are ultimately targeting more business.

The third benefit is that you are casting your SEO campaign wider than a normal campaign. You will target synonyms as your typical user will not be using the exact terminology you think they will use.

So once I do that, that’s my Long Tail SEO sorted?

The long tail campaign never ends. There will always be questions that will need to be answered, and there will always be content that can be added to your site.  If you have any questions about long tail SEO or how this strategy could be applied to your business, please get in touch with us by phone or email.