In case you're not familiar, here's a quick explanation of the term "Long Tail Keyword". A long tail keyword is a very specific and niche string of words that people are searching for. So for example a regular keyword search could be "Improve Google Search Rank". This search is fairly general and will bring up a ton of different results on various topics.
A long tail keyword search example could be "Using local long tail keyword targeting to increase your local Google rank". This search is much more specific because it specifically is talking about both local SEO and also using long tail keywords. So the results will be much more refined and specific towards these terms.
You may be thinking, why not target the more popular searches where more people are searching? Well this may be part of your overall strategy, focusing only on the bigger search terms is typically not the best strategy for a number of reasons. Long tail searches are much less competitive and thus can be easier, faster and cheaper to rank for. Additionally, long tail searches are much more specific so you can connect with a targeted niche audience. This can be a form of "pre-qualifying" to ensure your content is getting in front of the right people.
So how can you do some research on long tail to find opportunities?
Here are some tips and tricks you can use while doing your own long tail keyword research.
Google Auto-Complete + Related Searches
In the past 2 years Google has really developed an auto-complete search program that will help assist people searching on the web. I'm sure you've seen this while searching on Google. You start typing in a search term and a box pops down with full searches that you may be looking for.
These are helpful because the auto-complete is based on common searches that others looking for that information are looking for. So this means in a long tail search, the items that pop up are popular and being searched by others meaning there is opportunity there.
Additionally, Google also has a related search section which pulls other popular searches related to your search. This can be a great way to see what other popular search terms are being searched around the niche topic matter.
SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool
SEOmoz, a leader in SEO tools and education, has a great tool which you can use to research various keywords. You can enter in prospective long tail keywords into their keyword tool and it will pull up a short report on the difficulty of ranking for that keyword and pages that are currently ranking for that term.
Additionally, it will give you a great snapshot of each search result that is ranking in the top 10 so you can determine from site to site how your website and page stacks up against the competition.
This can be an awesome tool for qualifying and prioritizing keyword.
Google Analytics + Webmaster Tools
The SEO world took a big hit when Google restricted the access of many of the keyword searches in an effort to increase personal privacy. Now if a user is logged into Google they can opt-out of making their search terms visible to analytics users. So when you check your searched keywords in Google Analytics, you will see "(not provided)" which means the user has decided to keep their searches private.
and in webmaster tools...
Never the less, using both Google Analytics and Webmaster tools can give you some great in site into what people are already searching for and arrive on your website. If you find a common term that's bringing in engaged and high-quality visitors, this may be a term that you can target for a long tail SEO strategy.
Google Adword Keyword Tool
For years this has been one of the go-to sources for keyword research. Google offers this tool to help assist people who are interested in advertising on Google Adwords but need help researching which search terms to target. If used correctly, this tool offers a great starting point for keyword research and compairison. You can often find great opportunity here because it suggests other keywords to look through.
One note, this information should be taken as simply one peice of the puzzle. I would not suggest relying only on the keyword tool's data for developing your keyword strategy because this is a fragmented source of data that is commenly misinterpreted which can cause problems in your strategy.
I would suggest setting up filters and RSS feeds around your niche topic. This is great for not only staying on top of the most current news and trends, but also gives you an opportunity to see what other topics and long tail keywords are being written about.
Take note on the topics of interest and if you keep on top of the news feed and are quick to act, you can create opportunities to newsjack breaking news.
The people who are searching on Google are also the ones being social. So it makes sense that you can find opportunity for long tail keywords to target on social media. Social monitoring is a whole topic in itself and I plan on writing more about this topic in the near future. For now, I'm keeping this section short and sweet and simply referring you to some other great blog posts that offer ways to start social monitoring:
- How to Use Social Media for Customer Research
- 13 Social Media Software Tools for Marketing Your Company or Clients
- Manage Your Reputation
One commonly overlooked area of long tail keyword opportunity is in the FAQ sections on both your website and your competitors. Take a look at the FAQ questions that are receiving a great deal of attention. These questions could make great keywords that you can build out into their own SEO and content campaigns.
Additionally, take some time to research your competitors and see what FAQ questions they have on their websites. If there's a FAQ question on their site, there's a good chance that they have identified it as an important and common question from their customers and prospects.
Talk to People
As obvious as this sounds, this may be one of the most overlooked aspects of keyword research and strategy. There is a great deal of information you can gather from directly talking to your customers, your prospects and your other team members. Consider sending out a survey to your prospects and current customers to gather valuable feedback.
Find out what are common questions, challenges or qualifiers that are and use that information to help formulate long tail keywords that you can target. There's a good chance that if your sales team is hearing certain questions, there are many other potential customers searching online for the answer.
These are just a few of the many tools and resources available for long tail keyword research. Once you've completed your research the next step of the puzzle is creating content and optimizing for that term. For more information on modern day SEO techniques and strategy, read my blog "Critical Info You Need to Know About SEO".
Additionally, I'd recommend watching my free webinar "Supercharge Your Local SEO: The Complete Guide". This is a little dated, however, the majority of the content is still applicable.