Do Long Tail Keywords Matter in Search Engine Optimization?

May 8, 2021


Last Modified: May 8, 2021 7:35 AM


Do long-tail keywords work in SEO these days? Can a new website or a blog that does not have many backlinks can rank at the top of search engines? You are going to learn more about it in this article!

It’s looking like ranking for certain keywords in Google SERP is really hard, right?

Even small businesses try to protect their ranks as Google tends to change SERP rankings every day. Since every problem should have at least a solution, to protect your website’s constant traffic base, you can make use of Long tail keywords in search engine optimization.

Today, in this blog post, I will show you how long tail keywords matter in SEO and how they can help grow your business steadily without any traffic drop.

What are Long Tail Keyword Phrases?

If a search term that is more than one word long is entered a few times on a search engine, it is known as a Long Tail keyword phrase. At most times, many long-tail keywords are more than 3-4 words long.

As the Long-tail keywords chart from given below, the longer the keyword phrase is it’s more descriptive, targeted, specific, and low competitive.

cost and competition vs probability of competition in long-tail keywords

Do you know that roughly more than seventy percent of global searches are based on Long Tail Keywords?

Even though head terms (short tail keywords) count millions of monthly searches, long-tail keywords phrases can drive hundreds of or thousands of search traffic to your website instantly.

the search demand curve

The wonderful thing about long-tail keywords is once you optimize a web page for a few long-tail keyword phrases, it is a really easy task to rank the web page on Google #1 page. No need to build hundreds of manual backlinks. Just need a few on-page optimization techniques.

For more details check out my guide on how to find low competitive high volume search keywords for SEO. It explains a long-tail keyword strategy that gives you results fast.

Long-tail keywords and Short tail keywords

There is a big difference between long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords in terms of driving web traffic and increasing leads and sales.

In online marketing, people tend to use long-tail keywords rather than short-tail keywords. That’s why even each long-tail keyword phrases have a few monthly searches, they convert 2.5 times frequently.

the popularity of short vs long tail keywords chart

As you see in the above chart from, long-tail keywords contribute to the number of product sales more than short-tail keywords.

Take a look at this image from It illustrates the breakdown of keywords into the long tail money keywords. Notice the difference between a short tail keyword and a long tail keyword?

long tail keywords explanation

Ex: SEO tools (High search volume, but highly competitive and not targeted a specific niche) Best keywords research SEO tools for bloggers (lower search volume, but low competition and have a precise audience)

Secondary Keywords and Long Tail Keywords

Before we discuss the correlation between secondary keywords and long-tail keywords, let’s learn what exactly secondary keywords mean?

What are the secondary keywords?

If you’re blogging for a while and in the search engine optimization field, you should hear about secondary keywords. Actually, secondary keywords are a synonym for on-page topic targeting keywords.

Yes, on-page Topic Targeting keywords. Weird?

The beautiful thing about the on-page topic targeting keywords is that it solves a few head-scratching problems of SEOs and bloggers’ minds. To learn more about secondary keywords, pay attention to this example.

Ex: Let’s say your primary keyword is SEO tools. So the secondary keywords could be SEO software tools, SEO keyword research tools, free tools for WordPress SEO, and blogging tools for search engine optimization.

What can you see commonly on these search terms? Yes, all they have the primary keyword “SEO tools”.

  • Secondary keywords increase the priority of primary keywords. So search engine bots find that the article is optimized around the primary keyword as well. It doesn’t make any sense ranking a post about SEO tools that don’t talk about keyword research tools, backlink checker tools, competitor analysis tools, etc. Therefore secondary keywords indicate that the web page is in-depth and informative.
  • Secondary keywords decrease the chances of penalizing your website for keyword stuffing issues.
  • Secondary keywords generate more on-topic search terms which could drive high targeted organic traffic.
  • On-page topic keywords build a well-structured web page.

Secondary Keywords and Long Tail Keywords in SEO

Even though long-tail keyword phrases and secondary keyword phrases are looking similar, both have common and distinct features. In many cases, secondary keywords are more than 2-3 words long. And sometimes secondary keywords could have a few monthly searches.

keyword search volume

But, all long-tail keywords may not be secondary keywords. That means every long-tail keyword couldn’t have the primary keyword included.

Secondary keywords are targeted and niche-specific. They can structure the web page around the primary keyword and generate more blog post ideas. Use these on-page topic targeting keyword research tools to find secondary keywords for your blog posts.

Now you know many things about long-tail keywords. But, why should you use long-tail keywords in blog posts? How long-tail keywords increase organic traffic, conversions, and revenue?

The Importance of Long Tail Keywords in SEO

#1. Easy To Rank

An important thing about Long-tail keywords is that it’s very easy to rank on Google’s first page within a few weeks. As below chart from Long Tail Pro,  although head terms/short terms have high traffic volume, they are very competitive. But on the other side, Long Tail keywords are less popular and so low competitive.

search volume vs competition for keywords chart

Here are a few long-tail-keywords in Google webmaster tools. Although they have only a few searches, look at the number of clicks and the click-thru rates. I just followed these CTR optimization techniques to increase the CTR rates and the search engine rankings.

organic ctr for long-tail keywords Google Search Console

When you write an in-depth and descriptive blog post, you could see that the post even starts ranking for non-optimized keywords. Many of them are long-tail keywords. This is due to the semantic search.

I was able to increase traffic to a webpage by optimizing the keywords on the webpage by 129.38% within two months. I was careful when selecting keywords. Because I knew that optimizing for irrelevant keywords could be a major reason for decreasing the average time on page, increasing the bounce rate and so decreasing the search engine rankings.

But, fortunately, the keywords I selected were Long Tail keywords which are niche-relevant and targeted. For that reason, the overall traffic and average time on page of Virtual Bank Account post boosted at the roof.

increase of page views after using long-tail keywords

And that post ranked for hundreds of money keywords. For privacy reasons, I can’t reveal keywords that the post is ranking for.

keyword impressions and clicks on Google Search Console

Opening a Virtual bank account using Payoneer post not only explains how to create a virtual bank account online but also how to open a virtual EU bank account, and make money with blogging, affiliate marketing, etc. Even make money online is a hot topic, as my keyword strategy, the post didn’t rank for any irrelevant keyword.

As this long-tail keyword research strategy, after a few weeks, the blog post ranked for even a high competitive keyword “virtual us bank account” above the fold of Google SERP. Isn’t that cool?

ranking for competitive keywords after optimization

That boosted organic clicks/organic traffic by a whopping 400%…

increased clicks and impressions after longtail keywords strategy integration

All of these results because of the proper long tail keyword selection strategy. Learn How I increased my blog traffic through optimizing existing keywords using GSC over here.

#2. More targeted traffic

No need to explain anymore that long-tail keywords drive a lot more niche-specific traffic. As you see in this image, long-tail keywords tend to have more specific traffic and so get higher conversion rates.

traffic chart for keywords' length

A few months earlier, I compiled a great article on How to Get Google Index Your Website Super Fast under five minutes. As the keyword strategy, that post got a few organic clicks within the first week. Yes, all traffic coming because of the long-tail keywords.

But, the beautiful thing about Long-tail keywords selection is Google ranks higher on any webpage if the page includes relevant long-tail search terms. Let me explain this moreover.

A few of my target keywords that ranked on Google for blog posts are how to index pages on google, fast google indexing. But, Google started ranking this page for relevant long-tail keywords such as this URL could not be found in google’s index and google not indexing images.

long tail keywords for blog posts

As I said in the earlier example about the virtual bank account post, I am really careful about the keyword strategy that I use. I know irrelevant keywords could cause a decrease in search traffic under the hood. That’s why I am happy with the keywords that this post ranks on Google.

Even google not indexing images keyword phrase isn’t an optimized keyword phrase, it’s relevant. So drive niche-targeted traffic.

I learned about this on a post I shared about Best Premium Tumblr themes. I was driving hundreds of thousands of traffic from search engines. But, no conversion (didn’t anyone buy Tumblr themes from marketplaces like Themeforest and Creative Market).

After I examined the keywords that post ranking on, I found that there were lots of free” + keyword phrases which drive lots of traffic. Ex: free Tumblr themes for photo blogs

That’s when I optimized keywords into targeted and relevant traffic. When I used this SEO strategy in my Competitor Keywords Analysis post, I saw a great improvement.

All in all, long-tail keywords drive lots of niche-specific traffic, which could be similar to actually what you wanted. Remember, every relevant visitor count. So you shouldn’t ignore the importance of a long-tail keyword research strategy.

#3. Increase conversions

As a marketer, you want to get most people subscribed to your list via giveaways and offering lead magnets. You can use list building tools like Convertful (Read my Convertful review to learn more about it) for that.

As a blogger, you want more people to convert into buyers who click your affiliate links and purchase products/services.

According to my experience, I have found that the user-intent influences conversions really well. The best way to understand the user intent is through examining the keywords which people type in the Google search box before visiting your website.

Do you believe that people who find “free premium WordPress themes” will buy premium WordPress themes? And people who want to play games online free will easily convert into buyers?

No. The reason is the user-intent. The wonderful thing is that long-tail keywords can quickly increase conversion rates.

As in the chart below, the more descriptive your target keyword is the easier will be to increase conversion rates.

long tail keywords and conversion intent

After changing the email subscription offer, I was able to increase email signups by 150%.

email signups stats

Remember that it is the overall site conversion rate. So you should A/B test your subscription copies to adapt to the targeted traffic. Do readers want to download your “soup recipes for moms” guide, if they are searching for the best PLR products (supposing your niche is internet marketing)?

How you can find your target audience?

There are a few online tools to check competitors’ traffic and other information. But I will show you a method that you can use to find keywords that your readers type in Google and find popular posts on your site that your target audience prefers to read.

Step #1: Log in to your Google Search Console account and go to Search Analytics (Note: If you haven’t submitted your website to Google Search Console yet, follow this guide.)

Step #2: Now you will see your top keywords, clicks, average positions and CTR etc. You can go steps futhter and filter keywords that are long and getting higher amount of impressions in SERP.

In past, you could see ‘Content Keywords.’ It was an indicator of how significant each keyword is for your site from Google’s perspective.

Step #3: Log in to Google Analytics or any other analytics program you use to track visitor activities.  (Here I will use Google Analytics as many bloggers use Google analytics)

Step #4: Then navigate to Behavior >> Site content >> All Pages.

All pages in Google Analytics

Step #5: Filter top blog posts in a specific date range. Because some posts could get more views in a specific time period. You should look for evergreen posts that drive constant traffic.

Google analytics top pages in page views

Step  #6: Find what web pages drive lots of traffic and correlate them with keywords.

Step: #7: Set up the email subscription offer and A/B test the copy.

I used this strategy and was able to increase the conversion rates by 150% within one day. Long-tail keywords convert better than short-tail keywords. Try this technique and find how you can increase your website conversion rates.

#4. Higher Click-Through Rates

As you know people who come to your site using a long tail keyword phrase are more engaged and targeted rather than people who come to your site using a short-tail or middle tail keyword. I have found that long-tail keywords always take higher click through rates rather than short-tail keywords.

As the chart below, Arnie Kuenn explains in this post on that it is better off being the #4 position in the SERP for a long-tail search term rather than a head term/short-tail word.

The funniest thing is, despite the first position, long-tail terms dominate organic click-thru rates.

click through rate against search rank position

In my previous post on How to Increase Website Traffic by Improving Organic Click-Through Rates, I showed how SERP rankings and post titles matter in click-thru rates. I have found that averagely above the fold results always take more than 30% CTR for long-tail terms.

It’s not bad, right?

high CTR for longtail keywords

Yes, these search terms only have a few monthly search volume. But, the important thing here is the CTR. Because CTR is a major Google Ranking Factor, you shouldn’t neglect it.

Just like in PPC advertising, in search engine optimization click-through rate (CTR) is an important ranking metric.

How to Find Long Tail Keywords

In this entire blog post, you learned how long-tail keywords influence website traffic. Seventy percent of overall searches are on long-tail terms. So you want to make use of long-tail search terms to drive lots of target traffic, right?

How do you find long-tail keyword phrases which tend to drive lots of traffic, increase conversions and sales?

Answer? Use long-tail keyword research tools…

I have already listed a few long-tail keyword research tools on this page. You can check them out right now and I recommend them. Alternatively, here are my favorite long-tail keyword research tools and keyword research software which helped me drive lots of targeted search traffic, and eventually, they converted into potential buyers.


Conclusion on Long Tail Keywords in SEO

Utilizing long-tail keywords is the best way to rank on Google SERP quickly. You don’t need to generate hundreds of backlinks with the anchor text of keyword phrases to rank them on the #1 page. Just need some on-page optimization techniques such as interlinking and creating an eye-catchy headline etc.

If you think you can rank for a head term in the first place, so I think you should be Wikipedia or another authoritative website such as Huffington Post. Instead, pay attention to long-tail terms.

It’s easy to find and optimize the content. Make sure you don’t overuse these terms on a web document. Don’t use more than thrice a long tail keyword phrase, if your article is under one thousand or two thousand words.

Long-tail keywords not only drive thousands of targeted traffic but also increase the conversion rates and reduce website bounce rate. As more than 70% of global searches are based on long-tail words, you should make use of tools like Semrush (tutorial over here) to find keywords that can be ranked.

So do you use Long Tail Keywords on your blog posts? Share your comments about this post in the comment form below.


About the author 

Chamal Rathnayaka

A blogger, Growth Hacker, and Internet Marketer since 2012. Chamal Rathnayaka is the founder of this very site and he's sharing his experience and knowledge on Internet marketing through Pitiya blog. Send him a message on

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  • hey very nice article, given thorough knowledge about long tail keyword, thanks

  • Anonymous says:

    Do anchor backlinks stilll matter in seo or can I do top 1 without exact match backlinks – only with good optimalization and homepage backlinks withe site name?

    • Yes, without exact-match anchor text, you can increase your SERP rankings. With long-tail variations of anchor text, your web pages will rank for number of unpredicted long-tail keywords too. It is all about User Experience. Add exact anchor text when necessary. But, don't over optimize anything.

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