The guide to long-tail keywords and how to use them | Varn


5 April 2022

The ultimate guide to long-tail keywords and how to use them within your SEO efforts

Hero keywords with great search volume are well worth targeting within your SEO efforts, however, they can often be tricky to rank for unless you happen to already be near the top. Equally ranking for competitive transactional keywords with a healthy search volume can also be a longer-term game, which is why it is essential to get started early; as with investing, the best time to start SEO on your site is always yesterday. 

It is often said that longer tail keywords are easier to rank for, and in many cases this is true, depending on their respective competitiveness. In this week’s instalment of the Varn blog, we explore longer tail keywords and how to incorporate them into your SEO strategy. 

Why are they called long-tail keywords? 

The term ‘long-tail’ comes from the graph which shows the distribution of keywords when it comes to search volume. The graph below illustrates the full distribution of keywords. The ‘fat head’ refers to the keywords with the highest search volume, the ‘chunky middle’ covers the keywords in between the most popular terms and the long-tail keywords. 

The graph shows the header term ‘SEO Agency which has the highest search volume, with more locational terms like SEO Agency Bristol getting more modest monthly searches and the long-tail keywords like ‘what is an SEO agency’ getting the lowest monthly searches. 

Where do long-tail keywords sit in your strategy? 

long-tail keywords can be great to target early on within your SEO strategy, as they can often lead to quicker results (although these will likely not be instantaneous). This is why we recommend targeting them early, alongside the more short-tail transactional and brand awareness keywords. The graph below shows the typical timelines we expect for the different types of keywords following a proper SEO strategy. 

What are long-tail keywords? 

long-tail keywords are the name given to keywords that have a typically lower search volume than their relevant ‘head’ term counterparts. They can often be question-based, but not always, and many companies and agencies look to target them as they are often easier to rank for due to lower competition. Below is an example of a long-tail vs short-tail keyword: 

As shown, the long-tail keyword has a much lower search volume than the head term, but could well be worth ranking for to gain access to valuable traffic at the information gathering stage of the process. 

How do you find long-tail keywords worth ranking for? 

Finding the right long-tail keywords to rank for doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark, the world of SEO has a range of tools that can be used to identify potentially valuable keywords to rank for in the earlier stages of your optimisation process. 

Tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs and Google’s Keyword Planner are all good for generating keyword ideas and identifying opportunities with good search volumes and high purchase intent. These tools also help you narrow down your data within the research process, and can help you prioritise which long-tail keywords you want to rank for early on. 

If you are at the very start of the journey, Google’s auto-suggest tool can help you come up with some ideas that can then kick off into more in-depth research within the tools mentioned above. 

How to rank for long-tail keywords 

Ranking for long-tail keywords may be easier than those within the fat head, However, you will still need to work on a good strategy to rank for them. When it comes to ranking for long-tail keywords, the same best practice applies as it does within your wider SEO strategy. 

  1. Make sure you are creating good content 

It’s an obvious one, but you need content targeting the keywords for them to be able to rank within Google and other search engines. Blog pages are often a good starting point when it comes to ranking for long-tail keywords, but do not be afraid to create dedicated pages that target some of the more valuable keywords to your target niche. 

  1. Start to build a good backlink profile

Once you have the content, sending it out to publications and other valuable websites to share is one of the broad ways to develop backlinks to the content, which is very important from an SEO point of view. Links that use partial or exact match anchor text can support your efforts as they give Google an indication of what the content you are looking to rank for is about. 

Contact Varn to discuss your keyword targeting strategy

Long-tail keywords should be a part of your strategy, however, if you are unsure about how they should fit into your SEO efforts, get in touch with a member of the Varn team. Our SEO experts can walk you through the keywords research process and help you determine which keywords you want to rank for and when. 

Article by: David, SEO Account Manager More articles by David

Share this article:

Sign up for the latest SEO insights

Stay up to date with the very latest search marketing insights and news from Varn

Perform Better

Sign Up for Varn Insights
Sign Up for Latest Insights

Keep up to date with the latest search marketing news, insights, algorithm changes and research