Finding long tail keywords

21 Feb

For start-up sites or new SEO projects, the building blocks of good natural search engine optimisation is to begin with your core terms and expand out to relevant two and three word phrases (long tail keywords) that you can rank and get traffic for more easily.

Where to start looking for keywords

The first place that 80% of people start is Google AdWords Keyword Tool to research a keyword’s volume and competition levels (to see how easy/hard it is to rank for). This is a broad tool and should be used as a guide, as it’s main focus is it paid search, but it can be used as an indication for natural search using [exact march] searches.

Depending on your current domain authority and SEO visibility, one of the best approaches is to work in stages. To make this easier to understand, I thought it useful to do a worked example for a new kitchen manufacturer based in my local city, Reading. You can swap the terms out for your own, and re-run the same exercise.

In today’s example, we’re focusing the term “Kitchens”. Looking at the organic searches for Kitchens in Google – it’s dominated by Howdens, Wickes and Homebase; who are all large sites with lots of content and a high domain authority. Setting our sights a little lower (and more realistic) we could target “Bespoke Kitchens”, “Bespoke Kitchens in Berkshire”, and “Bespoke Kitchens in Reading”.

Based on our starting keyword of “Kitchens” here’s the search volume on [Exact match] for the terms discussed above. For paid search look at broad match for natural search look at [exact match].

Keyword Competition Searches volume
[kitchens] 1 110,000
[bespoke kitchens] 0.96 5,400
[bespoke kitchens berkshire] 0.9 28
[bespoke kitchens reading]

In this example, the long tail keywords I’d be targeting are “bespoke kitchens” and “bespoke kitchens in berkshire”. I’d also keep an eye out in analytics for other geographic regions that drives traffic when used with the main term. The benefit of starting with longer tail keywords is the bootstrapping effect that you have on your main term “kitchens”; i.e. your work on longer tail terms will benefit your main keywords and set a good foundation.

Expanding your list of long tail keywords

When working with Google Keyword Tool, start with the broadest one to two word phrases and let the keyword tool suggest the long tail terms for you.

The next steps is to expand the list and identify, similar ‘modifiers’ that your visitors are likely to search for and place next to your keywords e.g. “best” for “best bespoke kitchens” or adding in a “wood” or material that could be used when making a kitchen. Download and filter the list a few times and re-run the full list in Google Keyword Tool, it’s often surprising how it can generate new keyword ideas that you’d not thought about. Repeat this a few times to ensure you get them all.

Checking out the competition

I also use to tell me the keyword that my competitors are using and get an even better idea of what to consider. Also, give a try as they throw up different results.

Linking Paid Search to Natural Search

Using an AdWords campaign is a great way to find key phrases to target organically. You get a more accurate idea of the true search volume, plus you can determine which keywords are actually converting and worth going after before putting a lot of effort into link building and other off-site seo tactics.

Other long tail keyword tools

Market Samurai offers some added power and easy competitive comparisons and analysis. The data comes primarily from the Google Keyword tool, so smaller niches aren’t accurately analysed.

There is often more value in some long-tail keyword phrases that you simply have to use some gut instinct and personal testing to be sure.

Sense checking your results

When you have found the long tail keywords, it’s often useful to run them through the SERPs to see if the results are truly relevant to your niche. Sometimes the results will surprise you.

Google Instant Search

Using Google Instant Search can be helpful at times. It suggests keywords that other people have searched as you type. I have noticed many long tail searches (that require more research for relevance and traffic volumes) than I would have thought of otherwise.

Tools for searching for Long Tail keywords

1. Google AdWords Keyword tool

If you have any tips for searching for long tail keywords, do let me know I’m always keen to review new tools and techniques that I’ve not tried before.

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