Any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert will tell you that one of the quickest ways to have your content found and rank higher in searches is to use the right keywords. And not just the right keywords, but you can optimize your results by using “long-tail keywords.”
What Are Keywords
Keywords are individual words that your reader will input into Google (or Pinterest) to help find answers to their questions. For example, they may be looking for “pants.” This, obviously, will result in hundreds of thousands of results, which is why long-tail keywords are important.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases that contain 2-3 words, preferably more. They are used to target specific searches, and are useful for helping users find narrowed down results to answer their questions. Instead of searching for just “pants”, they may search for “comfortable pants”, “yoga pants”, “kids pants” or “pink pants”.
If you’re writing about how to find the best kids’ pants at an affordable price, this will help them tune into your post over other websites quicker. The more you can “niche down” the better.
Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Important
As mentioned above, long tail keywords will help anyone searching for your content to find more precisely what they need. Any SEO expert will tell you that the primary goal of SEO optimization is to be user-centric. That means, you will always want to put your website visitor first.
The bonus of using long-tail keywords? You will be rewarded by the Google algorithm.
The Google Algorithm explained. Sort of.
Now, any document that Google were to publish about their algorithm would be long, confusing, and most likely sleep inducing.
As a brief overview, their algorithm (a series of formulas that automated (and possibly human?) web searchers (“crawlers”) use to verify the validity of a website, to make sure that it is not spammy, put up with tons of malware to perform illegal activities, and that there is somewhat of a focus for the website.
So, here’s what you generally need to know, and is, in my humble opinion, the most important, cardinal rule for ranking in Google: put your reader/user FIRST.
Google has stated time and time again in interviews and publications that their primary focus is for the average smartphone, tablet, or computer user to be able to find the answers they are looking for. Period. And they will reward websites that make the intentions of its publications clear.
So, sure, you can have a blog all about your travels, what you had for dinner last night, the latest drama at your child’s school, but if those topics don’t overarchingly include tips to help educate readers, you’re not going to rank in Google, nor come up in any Google searches for the topic.
Unless the school drama includes insider details on a scandalous piece of news, then you may have a quick hit on your hands, but don’t expect that to last, nor for readers to stick around. Maybe unless you write really compelling content or are greatly funny that people want more.
Who am I to say you can’t do anything? I’m just saying, it’s not likely or realistic, and you do probably need a particular focus for your blog, or a few at a time. (Note: the rules don’t apply if you are Kim Kardashian, Melania Trump, or Cardi B because people are willing to watch every bit of their lives. And if any of you three are reading this, Hey, girl! Call me! 😉)
Now, it is not written in stone that you will be automatically “rewarded” with traffic from a Google search, nor will you receive an email from Google that says, “Congratulations! You have a great website! Here’s some traffic!”
That you will have to do on your own, constantly testing what works for your website and what resonates most with your audience, which you can do through Google Analytics. Getting search traffic can be difficult. But it can be done.
Before I actually started writing articles for my blog, I had my website up for a particular MLM product I sell. (Need fabulous hair? Go here.) And by far, the most visited page was the instructions on how to use the product.
Which just goes to show you, I had put up directions that were basically intended for the convenience of my customers, but someone else must’ve performed a search and found my page helpful, and maybe referred it to other users.
So, I got some automatic “juice” from those visits. And her business must be doing pretty well, it’s a few hundred hits every month. Go ahead, girlfriend! Thanks for the help, and I hope my page is useful for you!
Did you notice I said she/he found my page HELPFUL? That’s what Google likey. Oh, and how did I know I had that many visits and where they came from, and weren’t random Nigerian princes that wanted to send me $5M if I’d give them my info? Google Analytics.
Tip: Make sure you exclude your own IP address so it doesn’t show the thousands of times you go to your website as a user to admire it or determine if you need to make tweaks. Or every two times, depending on your overthinker level. Me? Level 10.
Where to Use Long-Tail Keywords
Everywhere. Look, constantly using the same words and keywords over and over in your text can look to Google like “keyword stuffing”, which is generally the overloading of any phrase to attract users via search.
And you may have seen websites that do this. You search “pants” in Google, click on a link, and the resulting webpage only contains hundreds of links for pants, kids pants, womens’ pants, mens’ pants, kids’ pants, yoga pants, green pants, pink pants, etc.
The more it sees “pants”, it’s trying to attract more users to click on those links. But Google doesn’t like it. So don’t overuse anything, just write naturally.
Not only should your keywords be in your body text, but they should also be used in your H1, H2, H3 and H4 headings. Google scans text of course, but it also scans headings.
So, if someone where researching how to use long-tail keywords, for example, and they were to type “Where to use long-tail keywords”, Google will see that I have a heading that directly or closely matches this, and this article will have a higher chance of being seen earlier in the search results that I may have otherwise been.
No guarantees, though – you have to consider your other SEO efforts and other websites “competing” for that traffic.
So now that we’ve talked about why you want to use long-tail keywords, let’s talk about how to find the right ones to help your blog rank higher and, in turn, help readers find you.
Where to Find the Best Long Tail Keywords
1. Ubersuggest– Ubersuggest is run by Neil Patel,who knows his Internet marketing very well. If you ever really want to deep-dive into Internet analytics and getting traffic, he is a great resource for it. (Just be ready to devote a half hour to his emails as they can be long and very in-depth. Or, you can subscribe to his Marketing School podcast which is usually only a few minutes long each day.)
In Ubersuggest, you’ll see statistics like search volume, how difficult it is to rank well for rank highly for searches, and if you were to pay for search traffic, how difficult it would be to write highly for the same searches versus non-paid.
You can also find other keyword ideas for you to include in your article. Including additional keyword ideas will help the search engines find and reference your articles.
Now, the only thing that I am not super crazy about on this site, is that it often tells you it is hard to rank both for organic (non-paid) searches and prepaid searches. I feel like this may discourage anyone wanting to write about any particular subject. Sure, you don’t have the SEO ranking as a longstanding, popular blog.
But you should remember that optimizing your articles for keywords will not only help you rank, but search engines also reward articles that have been around for a while.
Therefore, if you write and post it, even if it doesn’t get traffic, it will help to add credibility to your blog, as that post sits out there (and even more so if it is shown to be updated periodically!)
So, even if it isn’t your best article ever, if you have the time and the knowledge in your blog’s niche, feel free to go ahead and spend that time and knowledge in writing relevant articles (but write the most important and searched-for ones first).
And you never know, something may catch fire for you and go viral. Having additional related posts also keeps your readers on your site for longer, which gives it credibility in their eyes (as well as Google ranking analytics, bonus!)
2. Pinterest.com — Though generally regarded as a social network, Pinterest, for purposes of any business, is a search engine, similar to Google. And there is a way to do SEO for Pinterest, somewhat different that Google, and a tad more difficult because they like to make unannounced, random algorithm changes.
Pinterest is currently used by lots of bloggers to attract readers by using eye-catching visuals and catchy, intriguing headlines.
Here’s how you do it in Pinterest: Type your keyword in the search bar, just as if you were performing a search for a topic you were interested in. Here, I’ve search for ‘magnesium’ topics.
See alllll those colored blocks below the search line? Those are other terms that you can use to a. narrow down your focus if you’re looking to figure out what to write about a particular subject (and maybe do a little research), or b. use for SEO. Or both!
Just don’t go down the rabbit hole of looking at the pins for very long, because before you know it, you’ll have used so much time you could have been using optimizing for SEO and making your own catchy Pins.
3. AnswerThePublic– When you first pull it up you will see a cantankerous looking gentleman who is impatiently awaiting your search. Although I personally wish they would have more than just this guy and even though it is a clever idea, lol, you can pretty much get in and input your search query without having to stare at him too much.
This site takes a very unique approach to search queries in that it will tell you what particular phrases users have input regarding your keyword so you can see what the concerns are of your potential readers.
When you input your query, you will see a visualization chart where it will show you a circular set of search questions input by users, but you can also click the DATA tab and view it as a list. You can even import it as a CSV file which can be used in Excel and possibly other programs.
This one not only gives you related search terms, but it also tells you what people are wanting to know about the who, what, when, where, how, and/or why regarding your topic.
4. Google– As self-evident as this may seem, Google your phrase/keyword! What you’re looking for are the most popular sites, phrases, and related keywords (often at the bottom of the search results page.). What do you see? That’s what people are searching for related to your keyword.
Easy peasy. You can also peek in at some of the most popular results for that keyword, see if you can learn any new info. (Be VERYcareful not to plagiarize, and always give credit where credit is due.)
5. Buzzsumo– While Buzzsumo would not be my first stop for long tail keywords, it is definitely worth popping by when writing. Though you get many more results via a paid subscription, you can get a few things from the searches.
For example, a search shows the articles with the most Facebook engagement and you can sort by the type of engagement (here, social media channels.)
Now, you only get the other data under the Analysis tab with the paid plan. And you should be careful to watch the links that you sometimes get, as there may be several duplicate links, indicating that it is a spam website that is only put up for linking to (likely) product advertisements.
So, not the be-all end-all of searches, but some really great resources for similar articles and what social media network on which they are popular.
6. Google trends– This site is very helpful for those with specific niches, or those who write current event. (I’ve considered now writing a blog on my particular vein of guilty pleasure tv (ahem, housewives and reality women, but haven’t yet as I can’t yet update it regularly, but it’s swirling in my brain… But Google Trends would be terrific for that niche.)
As it is rooted in Google, it is likely one of the best authorities in daily, weekly, monthly, yearly searches, and remember that algorithm? It’s probably one of the most accurate.
So, here’s how I see that being the most useful types of information you would get from Google Trends: If you’re in a particular season, like Halloween or Christmas you may want to see what people are searching for and need help with.
Currently, “Marie Kondo” is a very popular search topic, as it is January and everyone has a New Years’ resolution to clean out their houses just like every January, and there is also a show on Netflix with her helping to organize other people’s houses. So, if you’re in a home décor or organization blog, this is right up your alley and you will want to pounce on this!
I’m very sure that my husband could write a sports blog, especially in regards to his favorite teams, and this would also be a good site for him…though he probably already knew about the topic by the time Google caught up, lol.
If you’re in a niche that changes often, don’t miss this: You can sign up to get an email delivered to you by topic or search term. It can be delivered once a week or once a month and you can even select the region that the search comes from.
Talk about doing the work for you! You can also sign up for Google Alerts, where you will get an alert whenever a particular subject or name appears in the news.
These are the free and paid resources that I have seen recommended by experienced bloggers and have used myself.
I hope you have found this list helpful. You do not have to use them all at one time, but you can but if you’re a beginner, I would quickly peruse most of them if not all just to get a feel of what topics your readers need the most information.
Do you have any others that you think might be helpful for finding the best keywords? Did this help you know where to begin finding long-tail keywords and related searches? Let me know in the comments.