The definition of long tail in SEO

The long tail in SEO is simply the keywords consisting of 3 words or more. From there comes a number of advantages to use this type of keywords rather than keywords called 'short tail'. Indeed, these keywords are easier to position on search engines because at first, the competition is much weaker! Moreover they convert better. Indeed, the more precise a user's search is, the more precise his intention is (the more he knows what he wants!) and therefore his probability of taking action, i.e. buying your product, is greater. The rest of the secrets can be found below.


The long tail in brief

The origins of long tail in SEO

The phrase "long tail" was born in the business world before it became part of the SEO world. Chris Anderson, editor of the famous Wired, is the first person that talked about the concept of long tail in his book "The Long Tail" published in 2004. He was interested in online sales websites, especially for cultural products such as Amazon, and realized that among the thousands of references offered to Internet users, the majority of sales (80%) were made on long tail products (articles such as a book on "Permaculture in Indonesia" or "The medieval chess game") while only 20% were linked to star products (the latest book by Marc Levy).

By accumulating references, even if each reference only brings a few sales per month, or even per year, the turnover can be multiplied! And therein lies the secret: the infinite multiplication of sales proposals! (as opposed to having only a few, ultra-competitive references).

Why should you use long tail for your ranking?

A picture is better than a long speech, let's look at the picture below:


The importance of long tail in organic ranking

There are many more keywords with 3, 4, 5 or more words, and even more so since voice search has exploded. (by the way, Google recently estimated that every day, 15% of the searches typed were new, that's how creative we are).

Long tail keywords are much more specific and therefore the user's intention is very clear, these keywords convert better! In order to determine the intent of the queries, you will need to perform a semantic analysis

Long tail through a visual example

Let's imagine that we offer trips to Croatia. Our dream, even without being an expert in SEO, would probably be to be in 1st position on :

  • Croatia
  • Travel Croatia
  • Vacations in Croatia

and Google search volumes prove it:

long-winded example

"If I am 1st on "Croatia", I will have 110,000 visitors per month on my site", and if I am also 1st on "Croatia travel" and "Croatia vacations", that's 6,600 + 2,900 = 9,500 additional visits!"

Yes, but:

  1. I may not be the 1st to tell me, and the competition may be tough! Even very, very tough. If I put all my efforts into this to get to the 3rd page, which would already be good, will it ever bring me a sale?
  2. If you manage to be 1st, it will require considerable effort to stay there, it will be complex and not guaranteed. Indeed, everyone is targeting this keyword!
  3. It is possible that on the keywords where there is an intention to buy our competitors are ready to pay for paid advertising, thereby drowning part of our "natural" efforts. See for example below, where we see that the first 4 results are advertisements.


And so, in reality:

  1. I'll never get all that traffic because even if I were 1st, not everyone will go to my site.
  2. I'll never be 1st (unless I'm amazing and in a niche market, or I'm already called Amazon, Fnac, or whatever.

Whereas the searches "what to see in Croatia", or "weather Croatia February", which are medium/long tail keywords, are so specific that we can easily imagine that the user who types them in already has a good idea about the fact that he is going to go. He's only looking for information about the "how" and the time he's going to do it: he's mature, and now is the time to be visible to influence his buying process.

While the user who types in "Croatia" may simply be wondering if this country is part of the European Union, if they are participating in the next soccer world cup or if it is a democracy, in short!

and if we "Google" the query, we see that there are no paid results this time, and that even if there are "only" 90 searches per month, it is probably much more accessible!


A comparative table between short and long tail


Techniques to conduct your long tail keyword research

Use the Google search bar and Google related searches

This is surely the simplest and quickest technique but it is no less effective!

You just have to type a generic keyword, for example "car":


You then see suggestions of keywords related to what you typed (yes I surprise you I know...), note that this also works with the Amazon search bar!

If you scroll to the bottom of the SERP :


You will find a selection of long tail keywords that you can use to enrich your organic referencing.

Answer The Public to know the questions of Internet users

What's better than finding out directly what questions people are asking and answering them?

Questioning sentences are more likely to get a Google snippet, allowing you to occupy the first place in search results and gain visibility!

This is what the free tool you are presenting now offers.

Start by selecting the “Language" in the drop down menu and enter the keyword of your choice (sorry it's almost 4:30 pm as I write these words hence the choice of my keyword ...)


Start the search.

You will get a beautiful tree as a result!


Scrolling down the page you will have a few more trees of this type with different adverbs and/or linking words as well as keywords in alphabetical order, example :


Use Google Trends and its associated searches

Google Trends is an excellent tool to develop your content strategy. Indeed, it offers a "related queries" function that displays the top 20 queries related to trends and the 25 most popular related queries.

To do this, go to Google Trends and type a keyword in the search bar then scroll down the page until you find the "related searches" feature (yes I typed "cake"...) :


Bonus tools

  • Wikipedia To find new keywords called "niche".
  • Ubersuggest To generate keywords on a theme. The operation is very simple: you click on the "suggest" button, and you will get a list of suggestions of keywords around your theme.
  • Google correlate To find words with the same periodicity and intensity of appearance in the search engine comparable.

Finally, the search for long tail is more advantageous for its SEO because the long tail is less competitive. It will therefore be easier to rank on this type of query.  

   Article written by Louis Chevant

Further reading

The complete guide to Internal Meshing

The step-by-step method to build your semantic cocoons, your mesh and the optimal tree structure of your website.