What are Long-tail Keywords: Full How-to for SEO Strategies

What are Long-tail Keywords: Full How-to for SEO Strategies
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Long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases used in online searches, characterized by their relatively low search volume, account for 70% of searches.

What is a Long-Tail Keyword & How to Identify One

What are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases used in online searches, characterized by their relatively low search volume.

While each individual long-tail keyword may have fewer monthly searches, together, they account for approximately 70% of overall searches.

These specific phrases offer precision in search queries and clearly reflect a user's search intent. As a result, they play a vital role in enhancing your website's visibility and engagement.

The Long Tail

But why are they called "long tails"? The misconception is that it's because of their word length. In reality, it's because of their position at the end of the search demand curve, as depicted in our chart below.

Keyword Search Demand Curve

Based on search volumes, keywords can be grouped into three categories:

  • Head Terms (a.k.a. short keywords): Broad keywords that are usually shorter and extremely popular, with up to millions of monthly searches, making them highly competitive to rank for.
  • Medium-Tail Keywords: Phrases containing 2-3 words that slightly provide specificity. They have a decent monthly search volume, ranging from 100 to 10 thousand, and moderate competition to rank for.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: Highly specific phrases with low competition that usually contain more than 3 words, and have search volumes as low as 10.

The term "long tail" itself originates from Chris Anderson's concept in his book "The Long Tail."

It suggests that while mainstream items attract significant attention, the collective demand for less popular items (or, in this case, keywords) can be equally or even more substantial for businesses.

Long-Tail Keyword Examples

Now, let’s compare some long-tail keywords and short keywords side by side, just to get a clearer picture of their differences.

Short Keywords vs. Long-Tail Keywords

In each case, the short keyword is broad, encompassing a wide range of topics or products. In contrast, the long-tail keyword provides additional details about the user's intent or the product they are searching for.

Types of Long-Tail Keywords

There are two main types of long-tail keywords: supporting and topical.

Supporting Long-Tail Keywords

Supporting long-tail keywords are used to discuss general topics. In terms of SEO ranking, they pose a greater challenge, as Google’s algorithm will also consider how well common keywords perform on your website. In other words, if you manage to secure a higher ranking for a general head term, you're more likely to rank well for its related supporting long-tail keywords.

For example, a term like “best tall cat tree for large cats” only has a search volume of 40 per month, which is relatively low, making it a long-tail keyword.

Supporting Long-Tail Keyword Example

There will be similar keywords that have significantly higher search volumes, such as “tall cat tree for large cats” or “cat tree for large cats”. You’ll also realize that the top pages that appear in the search results for all three terms are almost identical.

Related Head Terms or Medium-Tail Keywords Example

Though the search queries are phrased differently, Google’s algorithm understands that the users are actually looking for the same thing, so it provides the same ranking for all these terms. This makes “best tall cat tree for large cats” a supporting long-tail keyword that will rank according to the related head terms or medium-tail keywords above.

Topical Long-Tail Keywords

On the other hand, topical long-tail keywords revolve around specific themes or subjects, and are usually used to cover broad topics in detail. Being less competitive and easier to rank for, topical-long-tail keywords can also be more substantial in establishing your SEO strategy.

Suppose that someone searches for “how to choose a cat tree”, which is another long-tail keyword with merely 20 average monthly searches.

Topical Long-Tail Keyword Example

There usually won’t be many variations of keywords that branch out from this query, making it a safe choice for you to try and rank for this topical long-tail keyword with an article page that targets it.

It is essential to balance both types of long-tail keywords within your content.

Supporting keywords attract focused audiences, while topical keywords help construct comprehensive content, ultimately contributing to your overall SEO success.

Why are Long-Tail Keywords Important for SEO?

How do Long-Tail Keywords Work?

Most search queries are unique. In fact, Google has discovered that 15% of searches are entirely new every day!

As we’ve mentioned earlier, long-tail keywords address the specific needs of a targeted audience.

They cut through the noise of generic keywords, bringing your content to the right audience at the right time.

Imagine that you run an online shoe store. If you attempt to rank for the broad keyword “shoes,” your chances of appearing on top of the organic search results are slim to nothing, especially if you’re a smaller business or a startup company, as intense competition makes it challenging to stand out.

However, by incorporating long-tail keywords, such as "running shoes for women with high arches," you stand a better chance. When a potential customer enters this specific long-tail keyword into a search engine, they know exactly what they're looking for, and they're often ready to make a purchase.

While long-tail keywords may not attract the same volume of traffic as short keywords, the traffic they bring is incredibly valuable. It's laser-focused, committed, and driven by a strong desire for the specific products or information you offer.

Benefits of Long-Tail Keywords

To sum it all up, the benefits of long-tail keywords include:

The Benefits of Long-Tail Keywords

  • Lower Competition: Long-tail keywords typically face less competition than their shorter counterparts, which makes it easier for your content to rank in search engine results.
  • Increased Conversion Rates: Long-tail keywords attract targeted traffic. When your content closely aligns with the user's search intent, they are more likely to visit your website, or even convert into customers.
  • Lower Cost: For businesses considering paid advertising campaigns, long-tail keywords often come with lower bidding costs in Google Ads auction, making them cost-effective.
  • Enhanced Relevance: Long-tail keywords ensure that your content remains highly relevant to what users are searching for. This not only attracts more visitors but also keeps them engaged for extended periods.
  • More Options: The beauty of long-tail keywords lies in their diversity. For instance, someone in search of the perfect laptop might type in "lightweight laptops for graphic design" or "high-performance gaming laptops under $1000." There are countless variations tailored to specific needs, meaning you'll never exhaust your supply of long-tail keyword ideas.

How to Find the Best Long-Tail Keywords?

Selecting long-tail keywords can be a bit more complicated because you can’t just pick them based on their search volume. It’s crucial to consider all the rounding aspects to ensure that they are highly relevant to your targeted niche.

Let’s dive into some long-tail keyword research tips to help you with the process.

Long-Tail Keyword Research Tips

Think Like Your Audience

Start your long-tail keyword research by gaining a deep understanding of your target audience. Focus on their search intent, preferences, and even the specific language they use when searching for information or products in your niche.

Study Your Competitors

Analyze the long-tail keywords your competitors are ranking for in their content and identify the gaps in their coverage. This analysis can reveal untapped opportunities and act as a guide to your own keyword choices.

Take Advantage of Google’s Search Results

Google Autocomplete for Long-Tail Keywords

When you start typing a search query, Google’s Autocomplete will suggest related long-tail keywords based on popular searches. You can even include question modifiers like “what” and “how” to see different results.

Google's People Also Ask Section for Long-Tail Keywords

The "People Also Ask" section is also a great resource for finding questions related to your topic, which are usually perfect candidates for long-tail keywords.

Google's Related Searches for Long-Tail Keywords

You can even check out the “Related Searches” Google lists at the very bottom of the search results page for more long-tail keyword ideas.

Though this may not be the most practical keyword research method, it can help you understand which topics currently matter to users.

Check Your Website’s Internal Search History

If your website has an internal search function, review the search history to unveil specific queries or products that interest your users. These insights can guide your long-tail keyword strategy.

Explore Forums to Stay Updated

Browse Quora, Reddit, LIHKG, or any other online forums related to your niche. Users there often discuss specific problems, questions, and their interests, which can be a rich source of inspiration for your long-tail keyword ideas.

Utilize Keyword Research Tools

Leverage powerful keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush to identify potential long-tail keywords. These tools provide valuable insights into keyword volume, competition, and trends, enabling you to make informed decisions when choosing long-tail keywords.

If you’re not sure where to start, just check out these 10 popular long-tail keyword tools in our list below.

Top 10 Long-Tail Keyword Tools to Help You

Top 10 Long-Tail Keyword Tools

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a powerful and free tool that can help you discover long-tail keyword variations related to your niche and gauge their potential by assessing search volume and competition levels.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Google Keyword Planner

Want to learn more about Google Keyword Planner? Read our full guide for a step-by-step tutorial: How to Use Google Keyword Planner: Free Tool Full Guide

Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to explore how the popularity of specific keywords has changed over time, while providing insights into regional interest and related queries. By analyzing this information, you can identify rising long-tail keywords, understand seasonality, and tailor your content to match current interests.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Google Trends


SEMrush is an all-in-one SEO toolkit with comprehensive keyword research features. You can make the most of this tool by using it to find long-tail keywords with lower competition, assess keyword difficulty, and track your website's ranking for specific keywords.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: SEMrush


Ahrefs also offers a robust keyword research tool that helps with finding long-tail keywords and assessing keyword ranking difficulty. It also provides insights into which keywords your competitors are targeting.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Ahrefs


Ubersuggest is a user-friendly keyword research tool that simplifies keyword research. Find out the search volume, ranking difficulty, related search terms, and other insights on your chosen long-tail keywords.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Ubersuggest

Keyword Tool

Keyword Tool generates keyword suggestions based on Google's autocomplete feature, which makes it excellent for discovering long-tail keywords related to your niche.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Keyword Tool

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a unique tool that generates keyword ideas in question format. You can identify long-tail keywords that align with common user queries, as these often start with question words like "how," "what," or "why,” reflecting user intent.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Answer the Public

Keyword Finder

KWFinder presents keyword difficulty scores and related keyword suggestions, along with search volume and competitor analysis features to help streamline your long-tail keyword research.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Keyword Finder


Wordtracker is a versatile keyword research tool that offers valuable insights into long-tail keywords, search volume, and competition levels. With Wordtracker, you can uncover niche-specific long-tail keywords and gain a deeper understanding of user search behavior.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: Wordtracker


LongTailPro is specifically designed for long-tail keyword research. It provides features for discovering long-tail keywords and assessing their competitiveness, making it suitable for niche-focused SEO strategies.

Long-Tail Keyword Tool: LongTailPro

How to Use Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content?

Now that you have your keywords, time to put them to use! Sprinkling keywords throughout your text won’t suffice. It's about delivering value to your audience while aligning with search engine algorithms.

So, here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re using long-tail keywords for SEO.

Natural Integration

Places you can integrate keywords include:

  • Headline or Meta Title
  • Subheaders or Meta Tags — usually in H1 and H2 subheaders
  • Alt Text
  • Content — including the introduction or meta description, body of text, and conclusion

Make sure that your long-tail keywords blend naturally into your content, so that it reads naturally for both readers and search engines. Avoid keyword stuffing, which can lead to poor user experience and even SEO penalties from search engines.

User Intent

Consider the user’s search intent.

What problems are the users trying to solve? How can your content help them? For example, if their search query is “best sushi restaurant”, you can write a recommendation article listing popular sushi restaurants in the area.

By ensuring that your content addresses the user's query directly, you not only enhance their satisfaction but also improve your chances of ranking higher.

Not sure how to identify these queries? See if you can categorize their search intent into one of the four groups below:

  • Informational Intent: Users seek to learn more about a topic. (e.g., how to create SEO content?)
  • Commercial Intent: Users want to research a product or service before making a decision. (e.g., best speaker for home theater)
  • Transactional Intent: Users aim to make a purchase or complete a specific action. (e.g., buy antique jade jewelry)
  • Navigational Intent: Users want to search for a specific website or page. (e.g., Facebook login page)

Internal Linking

After optimizing individual pages for long-tail keywords, try to establish topic clusters by linking these pages to other related content that targets head terms on your site.

When you integrate internal links and employ topic clusters strategically, you create a user-centric navigation experience while simultaneously boosting your website's SEO performance and audience engagement.

Long-Tail Keywords for SEO

Long-tail keywords can help you attract the right audience and drive conversions, by targeting specific user intents and providing valuable content.

Keep refining your approach, stay updated with the latest trends, and use the right tools to discover those hidden gems among search terms. Your website's visibility and engagement will thank you for it.

If you need expert assistance with your SEO strategy or want to get a free SEO audit report, consider reaching out to Welly by hitting the yellow button below! We're here to help you take your online presence to the next level.


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