Which lemonade stand do you think will do more business: one isolated in a hot, suburban neighborhood – or one lined up among dozens of others on a beach filled with tourists?

The isolated lemonade stand will obviously see more customers since it has virtually no competition.  

If you’re only targeting keywords with high search volume for your SEO strategy, your website is the equivalent of the second lemonade stand, the one overwhelmed by competitors. 

Targeting long-tail keywords, which are highly specific search queries that don’t have a lot of search volume, is how you mimic the first lemonade stand. 

Granted, you won’t have a bustling beach filled with tourists to serve, but you will have an isolated neighborhood filled with thirsty homeowners all to yourself (and you won’t have to worry about getting sand in your shoes). 

Also, it’s now 2024, and the search engine landscape looks drastically different from just two to three years ago. 

AI chatbots, voice search through assistants like Alexa, and Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) are all changing how users interact with search engines. 

Instead of typing brief phrases to find what they need, users are beginning to use more conversational language – which means long-tail keywords are on the rise. 

Accordingly, it’s time to alter your SEO strategies to include more long-tail keywords, which we will show you how to do today. Stick around to learn everything you need to know about long-tail keywords.

Understanding the Search Demand Curve 

What’s all this business about keywords having tails?

To understand why SEOs label keywords as either short-tail or long-tail, you need to look at the search demand curve

It’s a graph that illustrates the relationship between the number of keywords users search for and how much search volume they receive. The demand curve features three distinct sections, so let’s look at each. 

The fat head 

The first section of the search demand curve is called ‘the fat head’ because it represents a small number of keywords that receive a ridiculous amount of search volume. 

In other words, keywords in the fat head are all short-tail, brief, and extremely broad. 

For example, phrases like Amazon, Netflix, and NBA are three popular keywords in the fat head, as they all receive hundreds of millions of searches each month. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to rank in the top 10 for these keywords due to the sheer mass of competitors all targeting them. 

Legacy websites like Wikipedia and Amazon tend to have a stranglehold on keywords in the fat head of the curve, meaning most other sites are better off looking elsewhere. 

The chunky middle 

A meme of Jerry Seinfeld complaining about the chunky middle

The next section of the search demand curve is the ‘chunky middle,’ representing millions of keywords that receive a decent amount of search volume. 

Queries in the chunky middle tend to have a few thousand monthly searches instead of a few million. 

Most non-legacy websites will have to target short-tail keywords in the chunky middle to stand a chance at penetrating the top 10 on the SERPs (search engine results pages). 

These keywords tend to contain a few more words than keywords from the fat head, such as Netflix’s top 10 instead of just Netflix

The long-tail 

The final section of the search demand curve is by far the largest, hence the name long-tail. It represents billions of keywords that only receive a minuscule amount of monthly searches (think less than 100). 

While long-tail keywords tend to have a longer length than short-tail keywords, that’s not a strict rule. 

What truly makes a keyword a long-tail keyword is the amount of search volume it receives each month. If the search volume is low, the keyword will appear on the ‘long-tail’ section of the search demand curve. 

In fact, there are single-word keywords that technically qualify as long-tail keywords due to their minimal search volume. 

An example would be a super obscure word like usageaster (it’s a real word, we promise). 

If we plug it into our free keyword planner tool, we can see that the term receives an average of 20 monthly searches, which qualifies it as a long-tail keyword. 

A screenshot of The HOTH’s keyword planner tool displaying the keyword ‘usageaster.’

However, most long-tail keywords will contain three or more words, which has led some to falsely assume that the length of the keyword determines whether it’s short-tail or long-tail. 

Why are Long-Tail Keywords Gaining So Much Traction Lately?

Now that you’re clear on what qualifies as a long-tail keyword let’s dive into their recent explosion in popularity.  

More and more websites are opting to use long-tail keywords in their SEO strategies, and there are more than a few reasons why that is. 

As stated in the intro, targeting long-tail keywords greatly reduces the number of competitors you have to deal with, meaning that it’s not too difficult to start ranking for them on the SERPs. 

Here’s a look at the top reasons why long-tail keywords are all the rage in 2024

Voice search and natural language processing (NLP) 

Do you regularly chat with AI-powered virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri?

If you have, you’ve been using long-tail keywords without realizing it. 

Since virtual assistants like Alexa feature natural language processing, they can comprehend conversational-style language. 

Instead of saying something rigid like, ‘Japanese restaurants near me,’ most virtual assistant users will ask something more natural like, “Alexa, what’s a great Japanese restaurant in Plano, Texas?”

They can even get more specific and ask things like, “Alexa, which Japanese restaurants serve crab rangoon in Plano?” 

These are highly specific long-tail keywords that will have far less search volume than something like ‘Japanese restaurants near me,’ which has hundreds of thousands of monthly searches (165,000). 

Therefore, if a Japanese restaurant in Plano targets more conversational long-tail queries, they’ll stand a much better chance at generating traffic from voice search users. 

While they won’t receive as many organic visitors as they might with a short-tail keyword, the visitors they do acquire will have very specific intent and are more likely to convert into paying customers at their restaurant. 

Also, since long-tail queries have low search volume, ranking for them in the top 5 search results will be twice as easy due to the reduced competition. 

Google SGE, Microsoft Copilot, and AI chatbots in general 

Voice-powered search is by no means the only trend geared toward long-tail keywords to emerge in recent times. 

Microsoft’s Copilot, their chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4, is now available to Windows 10 and 11 users through Bing

Bing users can now enjoy a combined search and chat experience, as they can hit the Copilot button on their taskbar, begin asking conversational-style questions, and receive direct answers. 

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) also incorporates an AI-powered chatbot that directly answers user queries. The AI Snapshot, which has been available through Google’s Search Labs since May 2023, also cites 3 online sources when providing its answer to a search query. 

These trends alter how users interact with search engines, and they all encourage a heightened emphasis on using long-tail keywords for SEO. 

If websites want to appear in SGE’s AI Snapshot, they must create content that answers the questions users ask AI chatbots. 

These longer keywords are similar to the ones users ask virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri. Rather than sticking to brief phrases that only outline their intent (like gardening tools), they can get far more specific (such as which gardening tools are best for arthritic hands). 

That brings us to the next reason why long-tail keywords are gaining popularity: they largely remove the guessing game involved with search intent. 

It’s easier to identify search intent with long-tail keywords 

If you want your SEO efforts to bear fruit, then your content needs to match a keyword’s search intent as closely as possible. 

Search intent refers to the ‘why’ behind a query on a search engine like Google. In other words, a user’s search intent represents what they hope to find by conducting an online search. 

Their intent could be:

  • Informational (looking to learn about a subject)
  • Navigational (trying to find a specific site/login page)
  • Commercial (browsing products and services to make a purchase eventually) 
  • Transactional (looking to make an immediate purchase) 

The only problem is determining a user’s search intent from short-tail keywords (which often contain only one or two words) can be extremely tricky. A long-tail keyword, on the other hand, tends to wear its intent on its sleeve. 

Matching search intent with long-tail keywords: an example 

Let’s use the previous example involving gardening tools. 

The short-tail keyword ‘gardening tools’ is pretty vague with its intent. 

Are they looking to buy gardening tools, learn about gardening tools, or navigate to a site about gardening tools?

It’s difficult to determine because it could be all of the above. 

Most likely, their intent is informational, meaning they want to learn more about the subject, but nobody can say with 100% certainty if that’s true. 

The long-tail keyword we used in the example, ‘Which gardening tools are best for arthritic hands, ’ leaves far less to the imagination. 

It’s crystal clear that the user has commercial intent, meaning they’re browsing their available options in order to make a purchase eventually. 

If you happen to run a website that sells easy-grip gardening tools, the aforementioned long-tail keyword would be perfect for your business. To capitalize on it, you could create a blog post entitled ‘Which Gardening Tools are Best for Arthritic Hands? 2024 Buyer’s Guide.’

Long-tail keywords have higher conversion rates 

If you want to squeeze the most out of your SEO budget, you need to include long-tail keywords in your strategy due to their high conversion rates. 

This benefit goes hand-in-hand with the last one, as the primary reason why long-tail keywords convert more is how easy it is to match their intent with content. 

Users also tend to use longer keywords whenever they’re ready to make a purchase, which also contributes to more conversions. 

On average, long-tail keywords have a conversion rate of 36%

To put that into perspective, the highest-performing landing pages only have a conversion rate of 11.45%. 

Since long-tail queries have a sky-high conversion rate, it makes up for their shortcomings with search volume. 

That means the small number of organic visitors you generate have a strong chance of making a purchase or signing up for your newsletter. 

If you’re targeting tons of long-tail keywords related to your products and services, the revenue you can generate will start to add up in a big way. 

While you definitely shouldn’t exclude short-tail keywords from your strategy, these perks prove that long-tail keywords are worth adding to the mix. 

How Can You Find Long-Tail Keywords to Target for Your Content?

A meme of a dog commenting on long-tail keywords.

Your entire SEO strategy will live and die by the strength of your keyword research, so you need reliable ways to uncover the perfect long-tail keywords for your business. 

However, researching long-tail keywords involves looking for different metrics than broader, short-tail keywords. 

Mainly, you’ll want to exclusively look for keywords with low search volume, such as only a few hundred monthly searches or less. 

This may initially seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re accustomed to looking for the highest search volume possible. 

The good news is since the search volume is low, the keyword difficulty score (KD score) won’t be a cause for concern. 

In fact, it’s pretty easy to rank in the top 5 for long-tail keywords that receive 100 or fewer monthly searches, which is definitely a plus. 

What factors do you need to look for, then?

The main thing you need to confirm is the search intent behind the keyword. For the most part, you’ll want to target long-tail keywords with commercial and transactional intent. 

That’s because informational keywords tend to be shorter, as the user only wants to educate themselves at that stage in the buyer’s journey.  

Here are the top ways to research relevant long-tail keywords for your business. 

Use keyword research tools 

You can find plenty of tools online specifically designed for keyword research. 

In fact, we have a keyword planner tool that anyone can use for free, so don’t hesitate to use it right now. SEMrush powers it, so the data is highly accurate. 

Metrics available for each keyword include the following:

  • Search volume
  • Search intent (represented by a small image) 
  • CPC (cost-per-click for pay-per-click campaigns) 
  • Keyword difficulty score (how hard it will be to rank for it) 
  • Search trend (represented by a line graph) 

Armed with this information, it becomes extremely easy to find relevant long-tail queries that you can use for content creation. 

All you need to do is enter a phrase or term related to your industry, and the tool will provide up to 50 results at a time for your review (you can also request even more results). 

Remember to look for a low search volume that’s in the hundreds instead of thousands. Otherwise, the keyword isn’t truly long-tail. Besides that, look for keywords with commercial and transactional intent, represented by dollar signs (transactional) and skyscrapers (commercial). 

Don’t limit your keyword research to our tool, though, as you’ll find the best results by using a mix of research tools. 

Google Trends, Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer, and SEMrush’s Keyword Overview tool are all top-notch sources for long-tail keyword research. 

Dive into Google Analytics Traffic Sources reports

If a dog is man’s best friend, then Google Analytics (GA) is definitely an SEO’s best friend – and there are many reasons for this. 

When combined with Google Search Console, GA provides invaluable insights into the habits of your target audience, including which keywords drove them to your website

Yes, with Google Analytics, you can uncover long-tail keywords that are already driving traffic to your site that you don’t know about

From the GA dashboard, navigate to Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic

Here, you’ll find a complete list of all the key phrases that directed visitors to your website. That list is bound to be quite vast, but you can still comb through it in search of valuable long-tail keywords. 

If your list is too massive, the good news is GA provides plenty of search filters to narrow things down. 

You have complete control over the time frame, so you can set it to something large or small, depending on your traffic flow. 

For example, you could set the time frame to 3 months and then analyze your key phrases for patterns. 

Are there lots of question-based queries? Do certain products or services keep popping up in the keywords? 

You can also use the search bar to filter the results even further, such as only including keywords that contain phrases like ‘what is,’ ‘best,’ or ‘buy now.’ 

Check Q&A platforms online (Reddit, Quora, etc.) 

Since the prevalence of AI in search is causing users to ask more conversational-style questions, platforms like Reddit and Quora are goldmines for these types of keywords. 

The great thing about these sites is the users are clearly looking for content that answers their questions. As long as you stick to questions related to your products and services, these platforms are goldmines for content topic ideas. 

However, you should vet each long-tail keyword you find on Q&A platforms through a keyword tool to verify that it has the right metrics. 

The main things you’ll need to verify for long-tail keywords are that the search volume is low, the keyword difficulty isn’t too high, and the intent aligns with the content you want to create. 

eHow and Wikipedia 

These two websites feature immaculate keyword research and on-page optimization, which is why you should use them as sources for keyword ideas. 

eHow’s strategy is to find relevant long-tail keywords and then rank for them by creating hyper-focused content. In other words, they incorporate an airtight, long-tail keyword strategy that you should try to replicate. 

The good news?

You can use eHow to brainstorm long-tail keyword ideas for your business. Despite their rock-solid keyword research, eHow’s content is on the thin and weak side. 

That means it shouldn’t be difficult at all to outrank them by creating content that is 10x stronger than theirs. 

Wikipedia’s on-page SEO is both something to admire and to copy. 

In particular, the headers for their table of contents often translate into valuable long-tail keywords. 

How to Use Long-Tail Keywords in Your SEO Strategy 

Once you have a list of long-tail keywords, the next step is to create outstanding content for them, but how do you do that?

Here’s a look at our favorite ways to utilize long-tail keywords based on their search intent. 

Informational: tell interesting stories 

Storytelling is one of the most powerful marketing tools, and you can use it in the content you create for your long-tail keywords. 

If you’re informing and educating your readers, don’t just deliver rigid information – as it doesn’t take long for that to get boring. 

Instead, include personal anecdotes and stories from your experiences to make your content more relatable and fun. 

For example, sticking with the gardening tool example, you could relate a story where you realized you needed to provide easy-grip tools on your website due to your mother struggling to prune her bushes. This adds a much-needed human touch to your content, making it easier to build a loyal audience of readers. 

As a bonus, including first-hand experiences will appeal to Google’s E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) Quality Rater Guidelines. 

Commercial: create in-depth buyer’s guides and product comparisons

Long-tail keywords with commercial intent mean the user is weighing their options before making a purchase. 

Buyer’s guides and product comparisons are perfect for commercial intent keywords. They allow your readers to compare and contrast your products with others on the market, which can help sway their loyalty toward your brand. 

This type of content also positions your brand as an authority figure in the field, increasing the chances that your readers will return to your site to learn more about future purchases. 

Transactional: case studies, testimonials, and expert opinions 

At this stage in the buyer’s journey, the prospect is ready to make a purchase during their online session. That means the content you create for these types of keywords must convince them to go with your brand over the competition. 

That’s where social proof comes into the picture. 

Detailed case studies, honest testimonials, and expert opinions are all great forms of content to create with transactional long-tail keywords. 

Quotes from industry experts will add credibility and depth to your offerings, and case studies will demonstrate the value you provide to your customers. 

Start Using Long-Tail Keywords to Beef Up Your SEO Strategy 

To summarize, long-tail keywords are the way of the future in SEO. 

That doesn’t mean that you should stop using short-tail keywords altogether. 

On the contrary, short-tail keywords are still crucial for boosting your organic traffic numbers, so don’t forget to include a healthy balance of long-tail and short-tail. 

Yet, the days of ignoring long-tail keywords are over, especially if you want to compete in the changing search landscape. 

Long-tail keywords enable you to perfectly match search intent, achieve higher conversion rates, and limit the competition – so there’s no reason not to use them. 

Do you not have the time or expertise to incorporate long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy?

Then you need to check out HOTH X, our managed SEO service that combines all our SEO products into one mighty package. A dedicated campaign manager will work with your brand to elevate your online visibility to new heights, so don’t wait to get in touch with our team today.