Using the Long Tail for SEO

Long Tail SEO is a really useful technique to generate organic search traffic for your website. It is based on the proven theory that long tail keywords are easier to rank for than generic keywords for which the competition is really high. These longtail keywords also bring in more qualified leads and convert more visitors to customers than generic keywords do.


The long tail keyword concept was originally coined by Chris Anderson in the October 2004 issue of Wired magazine. He said that in a market with a high freedom of choice, the selection and buying pattern of the population results in an 80:20 distribution. This means that products with low demand or low sales volume can collectively make up a bigger market share than that of the products with high demand.

The long tail is based on the theory that consumers are shifting away from mainstream products (the Head) and towards a larger number of niche products (the Tail). Based on research, long-tail keywords comprise of around 70% of all internet searches.

A Long Tail Search Example

For example, take a Google search for "watch". There are about 6,100,000,000 results. Now increase the length of the longtail keyword search term to "tag heur modula 45 watch black". There are now 1,950,000 results. If we wanted to buy the watch from the UK, our search term would be "buy tag heur modula 45 watch black uk" which yields 661,000 results - a massive reduction from the original 6 billion results and a much easier search term to target. Also, by using the keyword "Buy" we know that the customer is more likely to buy than one who doesn't. (Note: We could have used "best price" here too and other keywords that savvy internet shoppers are using.)

Developing a long tail SEO strategy

Even though long tail SEO keywords get less traffic, using lots of long tail keywords will generate more traffic in the long run from organic Google searches. This is because the searchers that are using these targetted queries are exactly the target audience that you are looking for.

If your website is new, it will be unlikely that you can outrank competitors with head keywords however by using a long tail SEO strategy, you can rank highly for tail keywords. The best way to do this would be by publishing blog posts, articles and landing pages that cover topics relevant to your chosen long tail SEO keywords. With more established websites, a blend of long tail and short tail marketing would be the best approach.

Which long tail SEO terms to use?

When looking for keywords for the longtail, most SEOs consider these three aspects:
  1. Search volume
  2. Competition
  3. Relevance
Looking at the amount of people that are searching for your term, what the competition is for the search term and how relevant it is to your niche are all important things to do when researching search terms.

Remember: The search terms in the head generally consist of 1-2 words whereas the search terms in the tail consist of 3+ words and are easier to rank due to low competition.

To find profitable longtail keyword variations to drive traffic to your website, a keyword suggestion tool is really useful. One of the most well known is Google's Adwords keyword planner but there are also others including WordStream’s free keyword tool.

So to recap. If you're looking for low competition, high traffic volume and high conversion rates then long tail SEO is a really useful strategy to use. If you don't you can bet that every budding SEO consultant will be using it.

SEO Consultant

This article was written by Gaz Hall, a UK based SEO Consultant on 2nd July 2019.

Gaz has 20 years experience working on SEO projects large and small, locally and globally across a range of sectors.

If you need any SEO advice or would like him to look at your next project then get in touch to arrange a free consultation.