The foundations of anything are important.
Just take building a house, for example.
You can’t install the windows or paint the shutters without laying the foundations first.
The same concept applies in SEO—you can’t create a strong website that dominates the SERPs without a solid foundation.
And the foundation of your SEO strategy is your keyword targeting plan.
However, contrary to popular belief, keyword targeting doesn’t start and end with a list of keywords that you’ve plucked out of thin air.
The phrases you’re trying to rank for need to be relevant, searched for and in demand.
Otherwise, you won’t get anywhere.
But luckily, there’s a simple process to discover keywords that hit all three, and that are easier to rank for than the phrases you’re targeting now.
That’s right—today we’re talking about longtail keywords, and exactly how to find the right ones for your blog posts.
What Are Longtail Keywords, Exactly?
Longtail keywords are regular search queries, but they’re three or more words in length.
For example, while a standard search query would be “jumpstart car,” its longtail alternative could be “how to jumpstart a car.”
Now here’s a statistic you might find surprising: 70% of overall search traffic comes from longtail keywords.
So if you’re not using these phrases in your SEO strategy, you could be missing out on reaching a huge chunk of your potential customers who are using Google to find information relating to your business.
Why Should I Be Targeting Longtail Keywords?
You already know that failing to rank for longtail phrases might see your business miss out on hundreds (or potentially thousands) of searches.
But if that’s not enough motivation to find longtail keywords you could be targeting, consider these as well:
There’s Less Competition
Longtail keywords are more specific than shorter phrases or standalone words. That means they’re less likely to have high search volumes—as shown in this example:
Notice that sharp drop-off in monthly search volume, from 135,000 to 12,000?
Businesses—especially large companies with huge SEO budgets—often focus on ranking for short keywords with high commercial intent. Coincidentally, those phrases have high search volumes.
That weaves a path for small businesses to sweep up the longtail keywords.
Even though the search volumes for longtail keywords can be significantly lower than regular searches, there are still people searching for them.
And these people are looking for the information, knowledge and advice that you’re able to provide.
They’re Easier to Rank For
Because longtail keywords are only being targeted by a small percentage of your competitors, they’re also easier to rank for.
Let’s put that into practice:
If there are 10,000 companies trying to target “SEO,” you’ll need to create a truly outstanding piece of content that blows your competitors out of the water if you’re to be in with a chance of reaching Page 1.
However, if only 500 companies are willing to create content around a longtail keyword like “SEO for small businesses,” the bar is set lower and you aren’t competing against thousands of other URLs for the top spot.
And while I run the risk of sounding like an office jargon cheatsheet, longtail keywords are the “low-hanging fruit” in SEO.
They Aren’t Promotional, But They Still Drive Sales
If you’ve got a fear of selling your products, don’t panic.
There’s not as much pressure to promote your products or services when targeting longtail keywords, because the people searching for them are looking for information. That means they aren’t necessarily ready to enter their credit card details and hit “purchase.”
So, since you’re offering information rather than selling, your goal is to build trust and demonstrate your knowledge.
But that doesn’t mean there’s zero chance of it leading to a sale—especially if the knowledge you’re sharing is leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.
In fact, longtail keywords have a 26% conversion rate, which is more than double what it is for short phrases.
Keywords Galore: How to Find Longtail Keywords for Blog Posts
Are you ready to improve your presence in the SERPs and drive up conversion rates from organic search?
I’ve got you covered with this nine-step, foolproof strategy to find longtail keywords for your blog posts.
1. Look at What You’re Already Ranking For
Just like with any SEO activity, having a clear understanding of where you’re starting from is critical.
Scroll down to find a list of keywords you’re currently ranking for on a page-by-page level (AKA all the data you’ll ever need when it comes to assessing your search visibility).
You might already be ranking for some longtail keywords, which is great! But if not, don’t panic—we’re about to change that.
Keep this tool on hand because you’ll need to come back to it again later, when you’ve found the longtail keywords you want to target.
2. Investigate Related Searches on Google
Now, it’s time to put together a list of longtail keywords to target with your blog posts.
First up, we’re going straight to the horse’s mouth: Google. (They’re a good egg, aren’t they?)
Their “related searches” section, shown beneath standard search results, is a fantastic way for SEOs to see which longtail phrases people use around a similar topic.
Let’s take the “corporate fitness programs” keyword, for example. When I search that phrase in Google, here’s what the related search box looks like:
(Top tip: Use the Keyword Keg Chrome extension to view the search volumes, CPC and difficulty level—as shown in my example. It’s a lifesaver!)
So, from my original “corporate fitness programs” keyword, I’ve got eight more phrases to target.
Granted, they’re very similar to my initial search query, but the longtail keywords you’ll find here don’t have to be targeted on individual pages. Google is smart enough to understand when similar phrases mean the same thing, so bundling the phrases you’ve found here could help with their Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) algorithm.
2. Find Out What Google Suggests
That’s not all Google has to offer in the way of longtail keyword ideas—you can also find out what they suggest.
Who said us SEOs had to work against the algorithm we’re trying to win over?
To do this, begin to type a keyword with “why,” “how” or another question-based word before it. I’ll use “why does online marketing” for an example.
Google will finish my sentence for me like we’re an old married couple, and give me several popular searches that people tend to use when typing this phrase:
Ta-da! There are at least two more relevant longtail keywords that you can add to your master list.
(I told you Google’s a good egg.)
3. Answer People’s Questions
If those two steps didn’t give you enough suggestions, I’ve got another nifty place you can go to find out what people want to know when they search: Answer The Public.
Designed to list hundreds of question-based longtail keywords that, as the name suggests, answer the public’s questions, this tool is a goldmine for marketers looking for longtail phrases.
The best part? Getting started is easy. Simply head to the site and type in the name of your industry or niche, then hit “Get Questions.”
You’ll find a fancy looking graph similar to this example for “flights:”
…Geez Louise. That’s a lot of questions.
But the best part about this tool is that you’ll find question-based longtail keywords, like “how do flights get delayed?” or “which flights have wifi?,” that your ideal customer is likely to be searching for.
So, now you can target them!
4. Find Even More Questions on Quora
Want to learn a secret about me? I love Quora. Not just because browsing the question and answer-based site is a great way to distract me from what I should actually be doing, but also because it’s a fantastic place to find longtail keywords.
Why? Because it’s a list of questions that people want to know the answer to.
People who publish their questions on Quora probably weren’t able to find a good enough answer from Google, so they’ve headed to a forum where a specialist in that subject could give them what they’re looking for.
Just take this example when I search for “e-commerce marketing:”
You can use the questions being asked to discover longtail keyword opportunities, like “how to get traffic to your website” or “content marketing mistakes” from the examples above.
If you’re able to answer the questions being asked on your own website, do it.
Then, once you’ve published your answers, head back to the Quora thread and answer the question, including a link to your blog post for more information. You’ll drive more referral traffic to your website and gain a relevant backlink, too.
Talk about a win-win!
5. Look on Wikipedia Pages
Wikipedia is one of the largest websites ever to exist. But, don’t just visit the website when you’re looking to find information—use it to discover longtail phrases to target on your website.
Like many of the strategies I’ve already chatted about, this tip is super easy—but often forgotten about.
Simply search for the main page of your industry, and scroll down to find the contents table.
Here’s what I find when I head to the content marketing page:
A list of headings for each sub-section, work your way through this and see if you can find longtail keywords that could inspire a piece of content.
Let’s take the “way of digital content marketing” sub-section, for example. You could use this as your longtail keyword, and create a blog post titled “5 Ways to Do Digital Content Marketing on a Budget.”
Although it’s loosely related to the original phrase, it’s still targeting the same keyword and providing value to your ideal customer.
That’s the aim here, after all.
6. Check Out What Your Competitors Are Targeting
Another great place to look for longtail keywords is at what your competitors are targeting.
To do this, do a Google search of a blog post you’ve already covered. We’ll use our previous post on “SEO Domain Authority” as an example. Here’s what you’ll find when you search that phrase:
Click on each competing URL and search the page (Ctrl + F) to discover the main, short-tail keyword you searched for.
This should display longtail versions around it that your competitors are using, like this:
Jackpot! You’ve found a longtail keyword: “tracking Domain Authority.”
Now, head back to your own piece of content and see if you’re including that phrase. If not, edit the blog post to include it, or write a new post that addresses the new topic in detail.
That’ll bring you on par with (or ahead of) your competitors.
7. Analyze Your Findings
By this point, you should have a master list of longtail keywords that you can target with blog posts.
But your job isn’t done yet. Now you’ll need to go through the list and sense-check that the phrases you’re planning on targeting are worth your while.
Here’s what to analyze:
Firstly, run your list of keywords through Google Keyword Planner:
This will help you find the search volumes of each keyword—something that will impact the type of content you’ll create to rank for it.
As a general guide:
- (500+) High search volume: Create a long-form piece that’s the best piece of content you’ve ever made. Competition for this phrase is likely to be tough, so you’ll need to stand out.
- (100-500) Medium search volume: Focus on quality that’s on par with (or better than) your competition.
- (0-100) Low search volume: Don’t rule it out altogether, but don’t too spend much of your time here. Not many people are searching for it.
Next, let’s take a look at how likely you are to actually rank for the longtail keyword in question.
Head over to KWFinder and enter the phrase you’ve found. On the right-hand side of your screen, you’ll find a box with a keyword difficulty score, rated out of 100:
If this is your first venture into the world of longtail keywords, or you aren’t currently ranking for many phrases, focus on phrases with low difficulty scores (20 or below). These tend to be quicker and easier to rank for.
Then, gradually move onto longtail keywords with higher difficulty scores.
Since you’re already ranking for other keywords and have some form of search presence, it’ll be easier to rank for a higher graded keyword if you’ve already proven to Google that you’re a reputable website.
8. Create Blog Posts That Target the Longtail Keywords
Great job—you now have a shortlist of longtail keywords to target in your blog posts. Now it’s time to get to work and start ranking for them!
Blog posts are the best ways to target longtail keywords because they provide what a longtail searcher is looking for: information.
Since the majority of longtail phrases are question-based, answering them in a blog post is one of the easiest—and most scalable—ways to give a searcher the information they’re looking for.
So, group together similar longtail keywords and start planning out your targeting strategy.
For example: “interior design trends for kitchens” and “kitchen design trends for 2018” are extremely similar and don’t need two separate posts to target. Instead, bundle them in the same article and use a combination of both phrases when optimizing.
With your longtail keywords as inspiration, create a detailed and informative blog post. Follow blogging best practices to make it 10 times better than anything else currently ranking for the keyword.
- Inserting data points, surveys or case studies to back up your statements and build trust.
- Adding visual data—such as infographics, videos or images—to cater to visual learners and increase your chances of being found through image search.
- Sharing unique points or stories that haven’t already been discussed.
- Ensuring the page provides a great user experience.
Then, follow our guide to on-page SEO to make your page as powerful as it can be.
(Remember: If you’ve found a new longtail keyword throughout this process but you’ve already covered a similar topic previously, don’t waste your time creating a competing page. Instead, go back and edit the original post to include the new phrase.)
9. Add Longtail Keywords to Monitor Backlinks and Track Your Results
With your blog post published, it’s now time for the best part—seeing the results of your work!
For that, we need to head back our trusty tool from step #1, the Keywords tab in Monitor Backlinks (I told you we’d be needing it again).
First, add all of your new longtail keywords for tracking. Just scroll down to your keyword ranking report and click “Add keywords” in the top-left corner.
You’ll be taken to a page like this, where you can add all of them:
Once added, Monitor Backlinks will start automatically tracking your rankings for those keywords, and will send you regular updates on your ranking movements so you’ll be right across every change and improvement.
From the Keywords tab, you’ll be able to see at a glance how many new keywords you’ve started to rank for, and the total number of phrases you’re visible for:
It goes without saying that an improvement here means you’re doing a fantastic job.
Scroll down a little further to the keyword ranking report to see specific longtail keyword rankings, as well as how those rankings have changed over time:
As you can see, finding longtail keywords could give your business the opportunity to raise your search visibility, average keyword ranking positions, and beat your competitors to the top spots.
However, remember that the searching habits of your potential customers are always changing.
What phrase is popular this week might not be well-used the next week, so follow this process routinely to make sure you’re never missing out.