Contrary to popular belief, running a blog is an entirely viable source of income. You’re likely aware of that fact if you’re reading this right now. This accessibility, however, contributes to difficulty in this field, making it hard to get traffic amid other blog competitors.
There are many ways to remedy this “traffic jam”. You can improve your marketing efforts with ads, but for blog owners who’d like to cut down on expenses, the best bet is improving your SEO methods. And the best way to do that is to use long-tail keywords in your blog posts.
What Are Long-tail Keywords?
Wait, what are long-tail keywords anyway? Are they some sort of mutated variant of keywords with extra-long, prehensile tails?
Keywords are search terms used by internet users on a search engine like Google. The search engine will then display search results based on the search term used. Using these words or phrases in a blog post will help your customers find your website.
There are two types of these keywords. The first is known as head keywords or terms. These are keywords that are highly competitive when it comes to ranking and have a large search volume. Long-tail keywords are the opposite in that they are hardly ever competitive and have low search volumes.
Wait–why are they called long-tail keywords?
Take a look at this chart courtesy of Wordstream:
The terminology is based on how they look in a graphic representation of traffic distribution. Head terms or keywords are called because they are a very small category of keywords that drive high traffic signified by a tall peak, while long-tail keywords make up that long trail of lesser popularity searches.
Unlike what you would normally imagine, it’s not about the phrases’ length but about being more specific and low-traffic. Long-tail keywords are more specialized, hence the lower search traffic. Of course, keywords become more specific the longer they are, but that’s just a happy coincidence.
Why You Should Start Using Long-tail Keywords
So you may be wondering, why should you use long-tail keywords when we’ve established that head keywords drive more traffic?
The main reason to make keywords long-tail is the number of competitors. Head keywords indeed pull a lot of search traffic from your niche’s target audience, but bigger names in the industry are bound to get more organic reach than your blog and will rank higher in search results pages of keywords you’re trying to rank in.
Long-tail keywords being more specific and low competition means you will pull a relatively smaller number of visitors compared to general keywords. However, there are billions of internet users globally, so a fraction of that is still a pretty big number. Long-tail keywords also have a better conversion rate as customers tend to become more specific with their search queries when they have more intent and motivation.
How Do You Use Long-tail Keywords in a Blog?
Suffice to say, keyword usage is important when it comes to SEO. A blog thrives on traffic, after all. Long-tail keywords, in the same vein, are important for a small blog.
Here are the ways you can integrate them into your blog posts.
1. Set your content marketing goals
Before you think about integrating long-tail keywords into your blog posts, you must first define your content marketing goals. Think of it as the Law of Attraction but for your site. This is because setting these goals will help align your content marketing efforts into a more concentrated approach, ultimately giving you better results with your SEO and long-tail keyword use within and beyond a blog post.
Some content marketing goals include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Educating your readers
- Building brand loyalty with patrons
- Building credibility for search engines like Google
- Develop ideas and generate demand
- Translate search volumes into sales
If you, for example, want to boost brand awareness, what you can do is make your blog content shareable on social media by creating attractive titles and writing engaging blog posts. You can further encourage discussion by using an engine phrase or question that prompts comments.
On the other hand, if you, for example, want to educate your readers, you can do so by adding more value to your blog content. A well-written blog post can add a lot of value to your website. What more can continued publishing of content with similar quality? This is also the best way to build a good reputation with search engines, helping you rank higher in search engine results pages.
A good, manageable approach is to align your content marketing efforts with two of these goals. Doing so also helps narrow down the keywords you can use as some work better in specific areas.
Being a smart marketer is not just about using keywords. It’s about putting effort into what works and knowing how to use all the tools at their disposal.
2. Understand your niche and your customers
A smart marketer also seeks to know their chosen niche like the back of their hand. This is, in fact, crucial because not doing so would be going somewhere unfamiliar with a blindfold.
The first part of this is being aware of trends and your own competitors’ activities. The second is knowing your customers. Knowing these two factors will give you keyword ideas of words or a phrase you can integrate into a blog post.
Customers better express their intent with long-tail keywords. For example:
- Searches for keywords like “shoes” will tell you that they are at least interested in shoes but is too general to use for generating targeted content.
- Searches for more specific and long-tail keywords like “shoes for hiking trails” will narrow down what they are looking for, helping you adjust your content.
A good way to get to know your audience is by creating buyer personas. Buyer personas are imaginary profiles that help you visualize the kind of customer you want to attract. This makes content marketing easier and more effective and helps you better understand your audience. It also helps you focus your content on a specific audience and avoid targeting the wrong list of keyword phrases.
So learn about your niche and customer behavior, and derive your keyword choices from there.
3. Conduct thorough keyword research for long-tail keywords
Keywords are essential for SEO; thus, researching is integral for high search rankings and a successful blog.
However, most marketers are under the misconception that the best keyword is the one with the highest search volume, virtually ignoring more specific long-tail keyword variations. The latter, however, gives you a better opportunity to connect with more motivated customers, yielding better conversions.
You can find the perfect words that you can use for a blog post with thorough use of a keyword research tool, to be discussed later.
4. Generate content based on your keyword research
Writing a blog post can be difficult, especially if you lack the drive to do so. The prospect of competing in a congested niche can also be nauseating. But one thing to help you grow a blog post into a sturdy, sustaining tree is to plant the right seeds.
This is where your long-tail keyword searches will come in handy. While a general keyword is too vague, a long-tail keyword variation can give you a better idea of topics you want to write by finding out which keywords people use on search engines.
For example, your blogging niche is about pastries. You want to write an article about cookies, and your research tells you that one of the best long-tail variations is about the “best cookies to send in the mail”, giving you an idea of keyword-rich content you can write.
Despite lower search queries, specific long-tail keywords don’t suffer much from an SEO standpoint. This is because SEO now focuses more on customer experience and how they engage with pages or a certain website, in contrast to old SEO that focused on single keywords. This means with add
5. Craft natural-sounding headlines with long-tail keywords
Like it or not, headlines are important. Good headlines themselves drive traffic and can perfectly summarize the content in a single post.
For that reason, blog post titles deserve your attention as much as the rest of your content, and you need to make sure it’s a good one. The way to do this is to make your headline keyword-rich.
We can take a look at the long-tail keyword “best investments for beginners” as an example:
We can see that search engines like Google favor results that contain the main keyword, but it also prioritized the quality of the title itself. Take a look at the third result, which targets a different keyword (invest with little money), yet performs better than the fourth result which is too wordy.
This is because Google, again, ranks articles based on engagement. A title is more clickable and engaging when the main keyword people search for is integrated into them.
Furthermore, you can do the same for subheads in a post. Integrating long-tail keywords into your subheads makes you more searchable and engaging, letting you rank better in search engines like Google.
6. Create your anchor text
The anchor text refers to the clickable text in your content that redirects someone to another website. The text is usually blue and underlined to stand out.
Why use anchor texts? It’s simple, link-building, or the process of using links in marketing, is very important in SEO, and using long-tail keywords as your anchor text can improve the visibility of the site you are linking.
Let’s say you are writing an article about home exercises while marketing a particular workout mat company. You can use the “home workout mat” as your anchor text for an external link to your client’s pages, and in turn, it makes those pages more visible in similar searches.
You can also use this to improve the ranking of your own pages. In an article about how to make money with a blog, you can backlink to an article you wrote about blogging platforms, using an anchor text like “the best blogging platforms to make money”.
Always keep on the lookout for these long-tail keyword opportunities as they can help you do your job better.
How to Find Long-tail Keywords
Make your long-tail keyword searches easier by using keyword research tools. These tools can help you find long-tail keywords that people search, its keyword variations, long-tail or otherwise, and sometimes its search volume, for you to better use in your pages.
Some tools you can use include:
A very simple way to find a long-tail keyword to use is to input words into the Google search box and letting autofill do its thing. Google is the most popular search engine, so you can trust that the suggestions are common long-tail keywords.
Another simple way Google gives you ideas is through its suggestions on related-searches. Usually, Google will suggest more than one or two long-tail keywords to use instead of broad, general words when you search.
A more in-depth tool for finding keywords. You can input a word or phrase, and it will suggest variations with high search volumes.
There are many others that you can use, like Answer the Public, Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty, Ahref’s Keyword Explorer, and LSI Graph Keyword Generator. Many of these have more specialized functions that you can use more than one at a time.
More Tips for Generating Blog Content
- Avoid keyword stuffing. Remember when we said new SEO cares more about user experience? Google doesn’t like low-quality content. Too many keywords can affect quality, lowering readership and affecting SEO scores. Using many keywords is fine as long as you make it sound natural and up to par.
- Choose your long-tail keywords strategically. Not all people will use the exact phrases for keywords, so make sure it too long. Following the keywords as are suggested by tools works too.
- Track your keyword performance. Keep an eye on what long-tail keywords are bringing people to your site. More content related to that topic can add more traffic to you.
- Add keywords in your meta content. Add the keyword to other crucial places, such as your content’s meta description.
The Bottom Line
After a thorough review of your niche, customers, and keyword options, the ways you can integrate long-tail keywords into your blog are:
- As natural-sounding titles and subheads;
- In the body of your text without foregoing quality;
- As anchor text for links;
- In your meta description.
The use of keywords is important for keeping your website alive with a consistent flow of traffic, and long-tail keywords can do just that. It is a strong and proven strategy that is especially helpful for smaller blogs.
But while this is the case, at the end of the day, it is the quality of your work and how it engages your audience that can give you the most consistent results.