What is Long Tail Keyword Research?

What is Long Tail Keyword Research

My personal quest to both broaden my knowledge base and enhance the value of my website has led to today’s post, what is long tail keyword research? I have been delving into discussions of various techniques to create a positive user experience (UX) for my readers.

The benefits of using long tail keyword research are frequently touted. The purpose of today’s blog is to shed some light on this technique. I can’t be the only person who was in the dark! So without further ado, let’s dive in.

Here’s a Clear Definition of a Long Tail Keyword

In general, keywords represent words or phrases that people type into search boxes on search engines like Google or Bing. Long tail keywords are multiple word phrases (3 or more words) that are more specific in nature. Search terms that consist of only one or two words are alternately referred to as short tail or head terms.

The nature of the search term used often says a lot about the person’s level of interest in the topic and, correspondingly, how close they are to making any type of purchase decision. Use of long tail keywords is generally indicative of potential customers that already know what they want and are very close to being ready to buy.

Examples of Possible Search Terms

For example, let’s say we have a gardening enthusiast that’s interested in gardening tips, advice or gardening related products. Consider the following list of keywords this person might type into a Google Search box:

  1. “gardening.”
  2. “container gardening.”
  3. “vegetable container gardening.”
  4. “how to grow vegetables in containers.”

The first two head terms on the list are extremely broad in scope and suggest someone who is just browsing looking for ideas. As the search changes to long tail keywords, we can envision a change in intent.

Search term #4 implies a person on a mission. They’ve already done their browsing and research, and they know how they want to proceed. If their search leads them to your web page that contains a well written, captivating article entitled “How to Grow Vegetables in Containers,” they will likely have their credit card pulled out before they’ve finished the article.

They’re ready to buy the books, pots, soil and other container gardening products you’ve chosen to promote on your website.

Let’s revisit the search examples above

Further examination of these search terms, and the respective results returned by Google, provides invaluable insights for the newbie blogger. I suggest you open a second browser window right now and type these search terms into Google yourself to enhance this discussion with first-hand experience. I think even this simplistic exercise will really help with that “aha” moment we’re striving for.

As search terms evolve from extremely broad to more specific, you should note two key things that occur.

  • The volume of search results returned decreases dramatically; and
  • The sites displayed on Google page 1 change.

Don’t get too hung up on the actual number of search results returned. Just focus on relative numbers for now. At one time, total search results returned represented an accurate measure of competing websites, but that’s no longer true today. We’ll look at a better approach for finding competition.

How to Effectively Use Long Tail Keyword Research

As the owner of a small niche website or blogger, all of your energies should be focused on creating valuable and engaging content that will drive traffic to your site. To achieve this successfully, you need to pay attention to what your target audience really wants. Google sums this up nicely. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

Specifically, you need to pay attention to long tail keywords that are relevant to your niche. This knowledge leads to the following clear action plan.

Every page and post on your website should be developed around a long tail keyword with existing traffic and low competition.

This strategy will dramatically increase your chances of achieving Google rankings. In turn, Google rankings will drive readers to your site. Statistics will show that pages appearing within the top 5 positions on Google page 1 receive a staggering 75% of the search traffic for that particular query. Consequently, that’s certainly where I’d like to be!!

Keyword Research Tools

There are a number of keyword research tools that bloggers can use to brainstorm and zero in on desirable keywords for their site. Again, best practice involves picking keywords that have little competition with at least modest recurring traffic.

You want a tool that can quickly provide both average monthly traffic data and the number of websites providing direct competition for the contemplated keyword. Additionally, a good tool should suggest a list of similar terms for your consideration and evaluation.

I have used two different keyword research tools. One has a few more bells and whistles than the other, but I’ve found both to be extremely good and highly useful.

The first is a tool made available to members of an online business training center that I’ve joined, called Wealthy Affiliate. They offer an amazing amount of training on all aspects of affiliate marketing including the subject at hand. They also provide all of the resources and support you will need to implement the training and create your own successful online business.

As you read this article, if you feel like affiliate marketing is something you might like to know more about, I urge you to sign up today for a free Starter Membership. You can view information on all of the features included in the Starter Membership, including the WA Research Tool, by going to my Getting Started Online page.

The second tool I’ve utilized is a very comprehensive and powerful keyword research suite called Jaaxy. I would like to clearly demonstrate the enormous advantages to using this tool by walking through the research process using two of the search terms discussed above.

Keyword Research with Jaaxy

The screenshot below portrays the results for the search term “gardening.” The list of keywords below “gardening” was suggested by the Tool based on similarity to the keyword being researched. These are actual keywords that users have typed into Search Engines. Here is a description of the key search elements.

  • Avg – the average number of times per month the keyword was typed into a Search Engine
  • Traffic – the estimated number of visits you could expect to see if your site was ranked on Google page 1
  • QSR – Quoted Search Results – the number of competing websites ranked in Google for this exact word
  • KQI – Keyword Quality Indicator – Green is great, yellow is OK, Red is poor
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – Score based on traffic and competition indicating the likelihood you would rank on page 1 for this keyword. Score is from 1-100 with 100 being the highest value
  • Related – more suggested keywords to try


Jaaxy Keyword Search - Gardening
Jaaxy Keyword Search – Gardening

The results returned above for “gardening” are actually going to be common for many single word terms. It presents a pretty dismal picture. At first blush, when you see all those searches, it feels like it should be a good choice. And in reality, it probably is for a large chunk of the 419 websites that got there before you.

That’s a lot of competition with many of those sites being large authority sites containing vast amounts of information. The SEO column confirms you have zero chance of getting ranked on page 1 for this term. Note that the first viable keyword on this list, “basic gardening tips,” is a long tail keyword.

Let’s move on to the second screenshot below.

Jaaxy Search - How to grow vegetables in containers
Jaaxy Keyword Search – How to grow vegetables in containers

Here we see very different results. Virtually all of these keywords are viable. They are recurring monthly searches with competition less than 150. It’s true that the traffic is less for each of these terms but don’t let that deter you. Lower competition means a much higher chance of Google rankings as reflected in the high SEO scores.

Remember, you will develop every page or post on your site around a keyword. Once you have 20 or more quality articles posted and your rankings climb, aggregate traffic can become substantial.

Benefits of Long Tail Keyword Research From a Blogger’s Perspective

Studies indicate that even though short, popular searches like “gardening” get huge amounts of traffic individually, all short tail searches combined represent only about 30% of all searches. The remaining 70% of all internet searches represent long tail searches, and there are hundreds of millions of these searches.

More than enough to provide profitable keywords in any possible niche. Your task is to uncover these searches and employ them to engage your visitors.

Do you have a long tail keyword search you’d like to investigate? Why not try out the search button for Jaaxy below. You can take advantage of 30 free keyword searches.

The Long and Short of Keyword Research

After diving into this topic, what is long tail keyword research, at least one thing should be clear. You can’t afford to ignore the long tail 🙂

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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8 thoughts on “What is Long Tail Keyword Research?”

  1. Hey Linda, im not retired (yet!) but im giving the first steps on my website. Thank you so much for this post. The long tail key words is a thing I’m still struggling a bit with and i think you just helped me clarifying what i exactly need to do because i know they are basically the difference between getting traffic or not.
    Thank you so much! Great read.

    • Thank you Sofi! I’m glad you found the post helpful. I’ve become fascinated by the endless possibilities of long tail keywords 🙂

  2. Hi Linda,

    Thank you for sharing this post. It was great to know about Long tail Keyword search. I bet your site get lot’s of traffic because you know already the strategy about this. I will come back more and to know how are you doing on this post. Again, thank you!

    Blessing to you,
    Julius Orias

    • Hi Julius,

      Long tail keywords can be very helpful in increasing the traffic to your site because they tend to be low competition keywords. Especially when you’re a relatively new blogger, low competition is good. Thanks for visiting my site.

  3. Hi Linda,

    I am not yet retired however found your article of great interest.

    This is a brilliant article. I am in the course of developing websites and found your information interesting in how to drive traffic to my websites.

    I now have to come up with some long tail keywords and take it from there.

    I noticed that you mention two tools in your article, and you discussed the second of them in more detail and with more screenshots.

    Maybe when you have time, you might explain the first option in more detail and with some screenshots, maybe with the same keywords. I am beginning to think that this would be your next article for your website. 🙂

    Kind Regards,

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the article. Keyword research is not only necessary but a lot of fun. So many interesting possibilities! Jaaxy is a great tool that really makes it easy. WA also has an excellent keyword research tool that provides very similar data. I happily use it for research often but it doesn’t lend itself quite as well to screenshots because competition data isn’t displayed on the same screen with traffic data. Jaaxy has a few more bells and whistles that made the tutorial easier 🙂

      Good luck with your research!!

  4. Too many times people try to go after the heavy competition key words because that’s where all the traffic is (I know I did starting out). Sure, once you establish yourself as an authority site, you might be able to get away with using larger competition keywords because chances are you already have a substantial amount of “Returning Visitors” that will read your post anyway. Long tail keyword research is the best way when starting out a blog post. Go for the low hanging fruit. Great post!

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Yes, I have to agree with you. It’s far easier to attract visitors using low competition keywords. I think the key is to post often such that your site takes advantage of a lot of the low hanging fruit 🙂 I appreciate your comments.


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