So, you want to rank in the SERPs. Sure, you should focus on optimising pages with your main keyword. But what about the long-tail keywords that can rank for queries that are often less competitive? You’re not just going to forget about those, are you? Are you?
Give your website’s SEO a kick in the ‘tail’ and turn your attention to finding long-tail keyword opportunities. Doing so could increase your chances of ranking.
A long-tail keyword is a longer (generally 3-4 words) and more specific phrase that can target specific user intents. There are no set number of words in a long-tail keyword. This will change depending on how specific the user’s search is.
Long-tail keywords will usually include attributes of a product or service, narrowing down the results that a standard keyword would show in the SERPs. For example, if you search using the keyword “phone case”, you’re going to have more results than if you specified your needs with a long-tail keyword such as “flip phone case for iPhone 7”.
As these long-tail keywords have less search volume, you generally have a better chance of ranking for them than the more competitive standard keywords.
Focus on building pages around topics, not keywords.
In the past, algorithms weren’t very smart (bless ‘em), and the aim was to stuff your pages to the brim with target keywords. In 2013, along came the Hummingbird algorithm, and Google started to understand intent and the meaning behind content.
Algorithms are now far more advanced, giving pages the potential to rank for 100s and sometimes 1,000s of different keywords – as long as they provide in-depth content that covers the topic effectively.
For example, if you want to rank for a broad term like ‘dental crowns’, you won’t have any luck stuffing ‘dental crowns’ into the copy X number of times and aiming for a word count of Y.
Instead, you need to consider the user’s intent and the different information they could be looking for. Enter: long-tail keywords. These might include:
Understanding the questions and information your audience could be seeking will naturally amplify your site’s chances of ranking for multiple long-tail keywords.
So, what methods can you apply to identify exactly what your users are searching for?
You can start by getting a clear idea of the keyword topics you’d like to investigate. Then, you can use one of these tools to identify long-tail keyword opportunities.
SEMrush has a couple of effective ways to identify long-tail keyword opportunities. The first of these is the Keyword Magic Tool. Here you can input a seed keyword/topic, and the tool will spit out a variety of related terms.
This tool sorts the keywords into subtopics on the left side, making it easy for you to build out a list of subtopics to cover in the content.
Again, using ‘dental crowns’ as an example, we can see that users ask questions/seek information on topics such as:
We can use this information and data to guide in-depth content on ‘dental crowns’, covering a variety of different questions and intents, enabling us to rank for a number of long-tail keywords.
Step 1: Identify competitors that rank well for a particular keyword topic. Do this by running a manual search for a keyword in Google.
Step 2: Use SEMrush to review the competitor top organic pages report. To do this you will need to input the domain:
Step 3: You will then need to navigate to ‘organic research’ on the left tool bar:
Step 4: Once you’re here, you simply need to click on ‘pages’, and you should be presented with something like this:
This will provide you with a clear breakdown of the competitor top pages, the amount of traffic each page brings in, and a breakdown of how many keywords a page ranks for.
It also allows you to filter these pages by URL, making it easy for you to find the page you would like to review. Once you have found this page, simply export all the keywords the page is ranking for. This will provide you a great list of long, medium and broad keywords you can use to influence your content strategy.
Step 5: Sort all of these keywords into sub-topic buckets to create a clear idea of the content areas the competitor has covered. Once you’ve done this, you’ll quickly be able to establish where the gaps and long-tail keyword opportunities lie.
Top tip: Export data from the equivalent page on your site and use a pivot table in Excel to identify content gaps more effectively.
This tool will allow you to search for any keyword and will show real queries and questions asked around that particular keyword topic. This is a very powerful way of building out your content into sub-topics.
Top tip: Some of the data this spits out isn’t always that accurate. It’s best to validate the queries by running them through Google Keyword Planner to determine whether they actually have search volume.
Similar to SEMrush, Ahrefs’ ‘top pages’ report allows you to reviews competitor sites and outline the keywords that their pages are ranking for.
Step 1: Identify the competitor you would like to review and conduct a search on them in Ahrefs’ site explorer tool.
Step 2: Click on ‘competitor top pages report’.
Step 3: Export keyword data from the page you would like to assess.
Step 4: Sort through data in Excel and split the keywords into subtopic buckets. This will enable you to build out a solid content structure for your page and provide the information you need to write content that is going to rank for hundreds of keywords.
Top tip: Building quality content is only half the battle. Try reviewing the ‘top pages by links’ report in Ahrefs to reveal links that competitors have gotten off the back of quality content. Use this information to pick out quality link opportunities and form a list of outreach prospects to reach out to once the content has been created.
Start typing in the first keyword of your query and Google will automatically populate the search bar with common terms users search around that particular term/topic.
This is a great check to do if you’re stuck for time or don’t have any of the above tools at your disposal (although we would highly recommend you use the tools if you can).
Enter your query into the search bar and scroll down to the bottom of the SERPs to reveal searches related to your query.
Again, this is based on real user search patterns and will be a quick, easy, free way to reveal some popular long-tail search queries.
There are endless tools out there to help you find long-tail keywords to feature in your content, but these are just some of our favourites. As you can see, long-tail keywords are a pretty simple, but very effective, way to up your chances of ranking. Check out some of our other quick SEO wins to boost your website.