What are Long Tail Keywords?

What are Long Tail Keywords?

If you’ve been reading my blog about search engine optimization and search engine optimization tips, you’re probably familiar with some of the basics of search engine optimization. Keyword density, keyword to text size ratio and many other factors will affect how well your website ranks. However, another important factor to consider is what type of keywords you should use. There are 2 main types: ‘Head Terms’ and ‘Long Tail Keywords’ and in this article, I’ll discuss the difference between a head term and long tail keyword, and in particular, how long tail keywords can greatly help your rankings and boost traffic to your website.

what are long tail keywords

(Image courtesy of Moz, formerly SEOmoz)

Let’s start with the difference between head terms and long tail keywords:

Head terms are more general, shorter keywords that result in a broader range of results for a search. For example, ‘website designers’ would be a head term because it is not specific enough.

Long tail keywords contain at least 3 words and are a lot more specific. For example, ‘ ecommerce website designers specializing in Magento’ is a long tail keyword because I have narrowed down the possible results of just ecommerce website designers, to results that specifically include Magento developers (Magento is a type of open source ecommerce system). So what’s the benefit in using long tail keywords you ask?

Long tail keywords contain more words, which makes the search more specific. This means you face less competition for ranking than if you used a head term. The more specific the search, the less results are displayed. Search stats also show that more people use long tail keywords compared to head terms, which tells us that internet users are becoming more savvy when it comes to searching for information.

Secondly, if someone is using a long tail keyword and your site ranks for it, chances are the user was specifically looking for your services, that’s why your site showed in the results (assuming the site is optimized correctly, of course!). This means you’ve brought a real potential customer to your site (and now it’s up to how nice your site is, how easy it is to navigate and how well your content is written to get the user interested). Basically, you’re bringing in more targeted traffic to your site, which means your bounce rates will be lower than if you used head terms.

What’s a bounce rate you ask? Bounce rates simply tell you the percentage of visitors who landed on your site, realized it’s not what they’re looking for, and literally ‘bounce’ away. This is no good, cause you don’t want to rank highly but have a bounce rate of 80%; all this means is your site doesn’t deserve such a high ranking for that query and is a completely useless ranking for you cause it’s doesn’t result in more (potential) business.

In short, use long tail keywords to drive more useful traffic to your website, and have less competition for your keywords on major search engines.

  • Jay
    June 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Very informative. A ‘must read’ for budding webmasters!

  • peter degner
    June 8, 2013 at 12:16 am

    I found this to be an interesting concept but the applications must be limited to the website content of the type of service or product it’s optimizing for is my thought. I await your answer.

  • philip
    January 7, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    bookmarked!!, I like your blog!

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