Long tail keywords are a great way to get highly targeted, relevant traffic to your site. Instead of competing for highly sought-after broad keywords, with a bit of sense and skill, you can instead target more valuable, longer search queries. So how can you find the long tail keywords that are relevant to your business?

First, let’s do a quick refresher course on long tail keywords. A long tail keyword is a search query that is very specific and usually much longer in length than a broad keyword. To illustrate with an example: “black shoe” and “black nikes for basketball.” The search query “black shoe” does not really tell me much about what the searcher is looking for, while “black nikes for basketball” tells me almost exactly what the searcher wants to see in the results. Also, the long tail searcher is probably significantly further in the buying process than the less focused searcher. So, as you can see, targeting long tail keywords can add a lot of value to your search engine optimization (SEO) and/or content marketing strategy. If you would like to learn more about long tail keywords, check out Long Tail Keywords – What They Are and Why to Target Them.

Back to our original question: How can you find the long tail keywords that are relevant to your business?

  • Put yourself in the mind of your target audience. Think about what type of person your website would be relevant to. What is that person typing into their Google search bar? The long-tail keywords that you can come up with just by putting yourself in this mindset will often outperform those you find using the more statistic-based methods.
  • What do your customers ask you? These questions that you answer over and over again have maybe even lead you to add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to your website. If you hear these questions enough, chances are that people are asking the same questions of Google. Try publishing more detailed, in-depth responses on your website to target this traffic.
  • Run a search terms report. This method only applies to those running paid search campaigns in Google AdWords (I’ll focus on Google AdWords here as the vast majority of people use it as opposed to Bing, and it will have a higher volume of data to pull from). If you are running campaigns that target similar keywords to what you are targeting in your SEO campaigns, you can find some real gems in this report. Essentially, it allows you to see what searches are triggering your ads to appear on Google. Obviously, this is helpful for other reasons as well, but it can give you some ideas for long tail keywords when you see what search queries are triggering your ads to show. For a step-by-step guide on how to run this report, please follow the Google AdWords Support guide.
  • Check your Google Webmaster Search Terms. This is very similar to the previous point except that you do not need a paid search campaign for it. All you need is to set up your Google Webmaster Tools account. After it is set up, you can log in, select your site, and then in the left panel choose “Search Traffic” then “Search Queries.” You should be able to see what search queries are triggering your website to show up in the Google search results, where they are ranking, and how many clicks and impressions they are getting. Look through these queries that actual users are typing into Google for some ideas. Granted, these are things that you are already showing up for, but still, with the right approach, you can target long tail queries that you are showing up on the fifth page of search results for and move them up to the front page.
  • Use Google Autocomplete. This method does not even require you to have a website, just the ability to load up Google.com. Once you are there, start typing in some broad match business search terms and see how Google suggests that you complete them. You can also try asking questions and even testing some of your long tail ideas. The Google Autocomplete suggestions are based off of real search data, so you already know that people are searching for these queries.

This list is by no means comprehensive but it will hopefully give you some good starting points for your long tail keyword search. The key with all of these methods is to be creative. Long tail keywords are not a new development in search marketing, so some keywords that could be described as long tail are actually highly competitive. Remember, one of the major benefits of long tail keywords is the lower competition, so be creative in your choices.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog describing how to implement both long tail and broad keywords on your site.

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