Long Tail Keywords – Definition

Cite this article as:"Long Tail Keywords – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated March 23, 2019, last accessed October 25, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/long-tail-keywords-definition/.


Long Tail Keywords Definition

Long tail keywords are phrases exceeding two words that define a topic and are usually used by the general public while looking for a topic/product/service on Search Engines. These are very specific phrases that a user is looking for and expects results to reflect them exactly as they’re queried(as entered in the search box).

Search engine optimization for Long Tail Keywords has a high ranking factor as well as click through rate. Products and services also see a higher conversion rate when their description or title reflects an oft searched long tail keyword for their specific niche. Bloggers, Content Marketers, SMBs, and more rely on the effectiveness of Long Tail Keywords to rank high in search results consistently.

A Little More on What is Long Tail Keywords

Before customers make a purchase online, they look for the best deals, do a comparative study, and zero in on the best offer. Long Tail Keywords help marketers beat the competition by optimizing phrases that are current, trending, and being used regularly to trigger their product/services page in search results. Connecting with customers is easier with descriptive, phrasal keywords.

In a highly saturated keywords optimized web world, optimizing for single keywords is a lost cause as a small or medium sized business’ website may never beat long established brands and businesses for certain products and the associated keywords. In such a scenario, Long Tail Keywords assume significance in improving search rankings by targeting phrases that buyers are likely to use in conjunction with their products.

For e.g., Trying to rank in the first 10 results of Google for the keywords “Camouflage Pants” might be next to impossible as the top spots are usually taken by established brands like Macys, Amazon, et al.

It would be easier to rank for more descriptive, Long Tail Keyword phrases like:

  • Camouflage Pants with Flared Bottoms
  • Blue Camouflage Pants under $50.

Similarly, ranking for top trending single keywords might prove impossible whereas Long Tail Keywords that describe services and products in more detail, and happen to be used often in search phrases, make it easy for websites to beat direct competitors and big players in search rankings. Research also suggest that people using Long Tail Keywords in their search queries are actually looking to buy and have a much higher probability of turning into customers than those who are simply searching for single word terms.

Advantages of using Long Tail Keywords:

  • Easier to beat competition.
  • Reflect search queries more accurately, drawing in more viewers.
  • Contain more context about the topic, product, or service.
  • Improved customer engagement and conversion rates.
  • Good long term ranking strategy.
  • Optimizes the marketing/sales funnel strategy.
  • Perform better in voice assisted search results.
  • Sound strategy for building up an organic following and traffic to a website.

Good content strategists rely on the uniqueness of Long Term Keyword phrases to improve search rankings. It’s a widely practiced digital marketing strategy that targets specificity and is the backbone of content marketing. Ranking for Long Tail Keywords is cost effective and yields high ROI.

References for Long Tail Keywords

Academic Research on Long Tail Keywords

Application of Long Tail Keywords in the Keyword Optimization, Junyong, L. (2014). This article discusses the benefits of optimizing for Long Tail Keywords with real world examples and shows methods of mining for effective LTK.

An analysis of the importance of the long tail in search engine marketing, Skiera, B., Eckert, J., & Hinz, O. (2010). Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 9(6), 488-494. This research takes a critical look at Long Tail Keywords in search engine marketing by examining data from marketing campaigns in two countries fpr  three search engines, and 4908 keywords over a period of 36 weeks. It draws conclusions that do not favour LTK marketing.

The long tail of destination image and online marketing, Pan, B., & Li, X. R. (2011). Annals of Tourism Research, 38(1), 132-152. This paper studies the impact of Long Tail phrasal keywords in the tourism marketing niche with the example of China.

The long tail of social networking.: Revenue models of social networking sites, Enders, A., Hungenberg, H., Denker, H. P., & Mauch, S. (2008). European Management Journal, 26(3), 199-211. This study takes a look at data from two different social networking sites and their long tail marketing results in creating value for users.

Direct answers for search queries in the long tail, Bernstein, M. S., Teevan, J., Dumais, S., Liebling, D., & Horvitz, E. (2012, May). In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 237-246). ACM. This paper advocates Long Tail answers to Long Tail queries and demonstrates the impact of adopting this strategy.

The long tail or the short tail: The category-specific impact of eWOM on sales distribution, Lee, J., Lee, J. N., & Shin, H. (2011). Decision Support Systems, 51(3), 466-479. This paper challenges the Long Tail strategy by elaborating on the effect of electronic word of mouth on sales and marketing.

Consumer informedness and diverse consumer purchasing behaviors: Traditional mass-market, trading down, and trading out into the long tail, Clemons, E. K., & Gao, G. G. (2008). Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 7(1), 3-17. This paper studies changing consumer behavior and how businesses are adapting to these rapid changes, relying on newer strategies to increase sales.

Making the long tail visible: social networking sites and independent music discovery, Gaffney, M., & Rafferty, P. (2009). Program, 43(4), 375-391. This paper studies different social media platforms and the phenomenon of folksonomy, and its impact on the music industry.

Characterizing longtail SEO spam on cloud web hosting services, Liao, X., Liu, C., McCoy, D., Shi, E., Hao, S., & Beyah, R. (2016, April). In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on World Wide Web (pp. 321-332). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee. This paper studies the misuse of Long Tail Keywords and the resulting spam.

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