Over the past few years, SEO has evolved significantly.

Most of us like to believe that keyword targeting is no longer an important factor. The infamous Google Panda and Google Penguin updates made a huge impact on SEO and penalized numerous websites for thin content, keyword stuffing, content-farming, and link-farming. Perhaps this is the reason why many website owners and bloggers tend to stay away from keyword optimization, but it still makes the core of a good SEO strategy.

Given said that a few of the tactics have changed. You can no longer stuff keywords on a web page and hope that the search engines will rank your website for one of them. It is now equally important to provide meaningful content and write naturally when it comes to keyword optimization.

Search engines have become smarter; SEO has changed, and the competition is tougher than ever. So how do you make a dent in the SEO universe? How do you stand out from the rest of the crowd? More importantly, how do you ― despite the tough competition ― manage to attract targeted search engine traffic and increase the conversion rate?

The answer is Long-Tail Keywords.

In this post, we are going to discuss the basics of long-tail keywords, their various benefits, and how you can integrate the right long-tail keywords in your blog posts.

So let’s start from scratch.

What are Long-Tail Keywords?

Simply put, long-tail keywords are more targeted search phrases with 3 or more words. A long-tail keyword contains the more generic “head” keyword, but it also contains a few extra words that make it more targeted to a specific group of audience.

For example, “shoes” is a very generic head keyword. It may have a lot of searches, but it isn’t targeted.

On the other hand, “best running shoes for men” is a long-tail keyword that is catering to a very specific group of audiences, i.e. men looking for the best running shoes.

The Benefits of Long-Tail Keywords

There are plenty of benefits of targeting long-tail keywords. Here are two of the biggest benefits:

  • Long-tail keywords have less competition and, therefore, such keywords are significantly easier to be ranked for.

Don’t worry about the low search volume. The “head” keywords are more generic and, therefore, show a lot of search volume. But it is almost impossible to rank for a “head” keyword now.

On the other hand, it is far easier to rank for a long-tail keyword. And despite the lower search volume, you will still be getting a lot of organic traffic once you acquire a top search-engine position for that keyword. Neil Patel, the famous internet marketer, is generating 173,336 traffic visitors every month from long-tail keywords.

  • Furthermore, unlike “head” keywords, long-tail keywords have the best conversion rate.

The idea is that long-tail keywords target potential customers who are further in the buying cycle. For instance, if someone is looking for “shoes”, it indicates that the searcher is still in the beginning stages of decision making. On the other hand, if someone is specifically searching for “red reebok shoes for men”, it shows that the buyer has already made up his mind.

This is one of the main reasons why long-tail keywords have the best conversion rates.

How to Integrate Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content?

Once we have established the benefits of using long-tail keywords, it is time to learn how you can leverage them.

But before you start integrating long-tail keywords in your website’s content, it is more important to first research the right keywords. So let’s get started with that.

Finding the Right Long-Tail Keywords for Your Audience

As I mentioned earlier, long-tail keywords will have a lesser search-engine volume, but this shouldn’t stop you from targeting those keywords. Don’t be tempted to target a “head” keyword with thousands and thousands of monthly searches. This is one of the most common mistakes website owners make when they are searching for keywords.

Here are a few tips to help you get started in the right direction.

Although there are many tools (we’re going to discuss a few of them), Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is still one of the best options you’ve got.

Log in to that, input your primary keyword, and click the “Get Ideas” tab. In this example, we have used “small business” as the main keyword.

Click the “Keyword Ideas” tab and you will see a whole lot of different ideas with their level of competition and respective search volume.

As you can see, the search volume of each of these keywords is relatively lower. But since they are more targeted and narrowed, these keywords will be much easier to be ranked for. Moreover, as discussed earlier, they will also offer much better conversion rates.

This little process should give you a good head start, but you can always expand your research.

Here are a few more tools that you can use to do that.

UberSuggest is a great little tool for finding long-tail keywords. And now that you know the potential (competition and search volume) of several long-tail keywords via Google Keyword Planner Tool, you will be in a much better position to use UberSuggest.

By now, you should have more than information on the right keywords you should use in your content. However, if you want to go even further, here are 2 more tools that you can use for finding long-tail keywords:

Creating the Right Content

This is arguably the hardest part.

According to a Whatech research, out of 6 different content marketing challenges, content creation is the biggest of them all ― leading the way with 36%.

So how do you create the right content with long-tail keywords?

Here are a few very practical tips.

Create Awesome Headlines

Creating awesome, clickable headlines is the first thing you will have to do. Better headlines interest users and make your blog posts go viral on social media websites, but here is the catch.

Your primary long-tail keyword should be in your post’s headline.

Google crawlers love title tags and, if the title has a keyword you are trying to rank for, it really helps.

And while it may seem difficult, it isn’t. All you have to do is to follow a proven headline model and emulate it with a little bit of customization to fit your current needs.

Here are 3 awesome resources for you:

  1. Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks ― This is a handy little guide to 52 proven headline models. Just pick a headline that works best for a given blog post and include your long-tail keyword in it. It’s as simple as that!
  2. BuzzFeed ― BuzzFeed produces some of the best titles for its blog posts. If you are stumped and can’t find a good headline for your next blog post, just visit their website, check some of their latest headlines, and customize it with your long-tail keyword to make it your own.
  3. BuzzSumo ― It’s a goldmine of clickable headlines and socially viral blog posts. Here’s how to use it.

Input a generic keyword from your niche and find the most shared blog posts ― along with their titles (Headline) and the number of social media shares they received.

For example, here is what I found when I searched for “mobile marketing”.

These posts have the highest social media shares in the “mobile marketing” niche. And as we know that higher social media shares are directly dependent on the quality of headlines, you can get a lot of ideas for the type of headline you should craft.

Be Natural

This is perhaps the most important tip of this blog post.

It is extremely important that you don’t force any long-tail keyword in your website’s content.

Feel free to modify and customize the keywords to make them appear more natural and meaningful. Some of the long-tail keywords that you find will not be as natural as they should be.

For example, if you search for “graphic design”, you will find many keywords like:

  • Graphic design NY
  • Best graphic design
  • Top graphic design NY

It is important that you don’t use such keywords as they appear unnatural and meaningless. The infamous Google Panda and Google Penguin updates were specifically introduced to penalize such artificial webpages.

Understand User Intent

As I mentioned earlier, SEO has evolved significantly over the past few years.

While search queries are still dependent on keywords, “user intent” is a relatively new thing that is constantly redefining the way search engines work.

Simply put, Google is more concerned about the search intent of its users, instead of solely relying on the keywords they are using.

You can use a free tool like Google Analytics to find out the exact keywords people are searching to find your website. Once you understand the user intent of your specific target audience, you can then use the exact long-tail keywords that satisfy their need. Voila!

Create In-Depth Content

Thin content doesn’t work anymore. The infamous Google Panda update specifically targeted websites that had shallow and fluff content.

The idea is to create rich, comprehensive, and in-depth pieces that really answer the questions of your readers. If it is helpful for your website visitors, Google will take care of its high search engine position.

This becomes all the more important if you’re targeting long-tail keywords. As a general rule, your blog posts should be more than 1,000 words with practical examples, exclusive information, and actionable tips.

In short, creating rich and in-depth content is probably the only way to survive a Google penalty and do well in search engines.

In order to find more about creating high-quality and rich content, read this