What exactly are keywords?

You have probably searched for something on Google (or another search engine). The words that you type into the search bar of a search engine are called keywords. Examples of keywords are: Philips vacuum cleaner’ or ‘summer holiday Greece’. After you have submitted a search query, Google will search the web pages and websites that best match the keywords (or search terms) of your search query.

The keywords you use in the content of your website largely determine the type of visitors who visit your website. If you run a football webshop, you want people to find you using keywords such as ‘football boots for men’, ‘shinguard for women’, etc… You don’t want people to find you based on ‘football games’ because this means they are probably looking for other things than what you offer on your web shop. If you want your webpage to reach the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) of your potential customer, it is essential to identify the correct keywords.

The difference between short tail keywords and long tail keywords

Keywords are often divided into different categories: short tail keywords and long tail keywords. Short tail keywords are general keywords that often consist of 1 or 2 words. These keywords often have a high search volume on Google, which means that many people are indeed searching for these keywords. A top position in Google on these keywords is relatively difficult because when it comes to short tail keywords, you usually have to deal with a lot of competition due to the high search volume on these keywords.

Long tail keywords are specific keywords which often consist of 3 words, up to, in some cases, a whole sentence. Long tail keywords often have a relatively low search volume on Google because fewer people actively search for these words. Long tail keywords often make it easier to rank in the SERP, since there is less competition. Google users, who use long tail keywords in their search, often already know what they are looking for. Therefore, the use of long tail keywords usually means more conversions than the use of short tail keywords. In addition, it is good to know that no less than 70% of all search assignments consist of long tail keywords.

Because there is less competition for long tail keywords, it is advisable for new websites to apply this for their search engine optimization. This way, a starting website has a better chance of scoring in the results page of Google and benefit from a faster ROI.

Finding long tail keywords: different ways

With this knowledge in the back of our head, we can say that long tail keywords can definitely impact your SEO results positively. Use long tail keywords in your content by, for example, writing blogs about these subjects. But first you need to map out the long tail keywords that apply to you. You can do this in various ways.

1. Google autosuggest

When you type in a query into Google’s search bar, you automatically get all kinds of suggestions. Google determines these suggestions based on previous searches by other people. You can therefore assume that these are frequently used keywords.

Google autosuggest gebruiken

Figure 1: Finding long tail keywords using autosuggest

Once you have performed a search, you will be taken to the results page. At the bottom of the results page, you will find even more suggestions from Google; the related searches.

Google Autosuggest gebruiken voor longtail zoektermen

Figure 2: Finding long tail keywords through related searches

2. Analyze your competitors

Relevant competitors who score well on Google are indeed best practices. List the competitors who offer the same products. Then look at which competitors have a high Google ranking. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which long tail keywords do they use?
  • Do the long tail keywords match?
  • Which long tail keywords are relevant to your website?

Write down relevant keywords while researching your competitors. This way, you will know exactly which keywords to use.

3. SEO tools for keyword research

Various keyword research tools help marketers find the right keywords. For example, Google offers a free Keyword Planner. Other frequently used tools are SE Ranking and Semrush. With these tools, you can easily and quickly come up with new ideas for long tail keywords. You also immediately see all kinds of information on the suggested keywords, such as search volume and the estimated difficulty of getting a high Google ranking.

Longtail zoektermen vinden via Semrush

Figure 3: Finding long tail keywords with Semrush

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SE Ranking's keyword database contains over 20 billion different search terms. Try SE Ranking for free and discover for yourself the extensive database, including long tail search terms.

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4. Listen to your customers’ questions

Listening to the needs of your (potential) customer is perhaps one of the most important ways to identify long tail keywords. If you notice that customers have a specific question that is not answered on other sites, it is a smart idea to respond to the question. This way, you will attract specific visitors to your website.

But how do you find out what your customers want to know? It’s actually quite simple. Remember the questions customers ask you in person, on your social media channels or in your customer service department by writing them down. If you notice that the same question is asked frequently, writing a blog about it is a great idea.

Another way to find out what your customers want to know is to look at forums. When people have difficulty finding answers to their questions, some people ask these questions on forums.

5. Find out common questions on Answer The Public

Search queries in Google are increasingly formulated in the form of questions. Also thanks to voice search. People ask Google their question and immediately get thousands of answers. Therefore, it is important to find out what questions your target audience has. We just mentioned the way to write down questions that customers ask you. But as a starting website, your reach might not be big enough yet, so potential customers might not be able to find you when they have questions.

Fortunately, there is another way to find out common questions: Answer The Public. Answer The Public is a keyword tool that helps you find many long tail keywords. As soon as you enter a query (this only has to be one word), you will automatically get dozens of suggestions. Please note: with the free version, you only have 3 searches per day.

Longtail zoektermen achterhalen via Answer the Public

Figure 4: Finding long tail keywords using Answer The Public

6. Use social media

Social media also helps you find long tail keywords. Just like Google, YouTube also has an autosuggest. As soon as you enter a search term in the search bar, you will automatically get all kinds of suggestions. Facebook and Twitter may also help you. Try searching for a relevant hashtag. You may come across all kinds of questions from your potential customer.

Platforms like TikTok can also help if you use them in the right way. As described earlier, long tail keywords often have a lower search volume. Note that a low search volume does not always mean that it is better not to use the keyword. This is evident from the experience of Lauren Pope, Content and SEO manager. Lauren runs an astrology blog and also makes TikTok videos about it. One day, a TikTok follower asked Lauren a question that many people wanted to know the answer to. The question had a low search volume, but Lauren still decided to write a blog about it. It ended up being one of Lauren’s most successful blog posts.

Long tail zoektermen vinden via social media (Lauren Pope)

Figure 5: LinkedIn post Lauren Pope

7. Check Google Search Console

Google Search Console is designed to help you rank higher in Google’s search results. The free service from Google provides insights into the performance of your website and how you can improve your results. Through this service, you will not immediately get new suggestions for long tail keywords, but you will see which current keywords are doing well and which positions you rank on. If you click on a keyword, you will see detailed information such as your position in the results page. Google Search Console provides insight into the performance of your website, which you can immediately act upon.

Jarik Oosting

This article is written by Jarik Oosting

Jarik, an accomplished SEO consultant and founder of SmartRanking, brings over 12 years of SEO experience to the table. With his team of SEO specialists, he assists companies of all sizes in enhancing their online visibility. His areas of expertise include strategy development, analysis, technical SEO, and migrations.

His extensive experience spans B2B SEO, enterprise SEO, programmatic SEO, and e-commerce SEO. He holds a degree in Informational Science from the University of Groningen, where he focused on Natural Language Processing. His goal is to provide insights and knowledge to guide businesses toward success in the ever-evolving world of SEO.

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