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What are long tail keywords?

Question

SEO and PPC professionals classify keywords into three main buckets based on their popularity and specificity; the “head,” the “body,” and the "long tail" of the graph below that measures search volume and conversion rate of keywords. 

Head terms, also referred to as "short tail," are often one or two word search phrases that do not have one clear intent. 

Body phrases are slightly more specific and usually contain more words. With more words in the search query, you can start to get a clearer idea of the searcher’s intent.

Long tail keywords generally contain three or more words, have less search volume and illustrate a specific situation or intention from the searcher. The easiest way to think about these keywords is with the following graph.

What are long tail keywords? image 1

You can find long tail keywords in Semrush by using the Keyword Magic Tool and adding filters for number of words, keyword difficulty, volume, and more. This tool generates a list of extended search phrases based on the keyword entered. 

In this example, "tomato plant" is the head phrase, “tomato plants for sale” and "when to plant tomatoes" are body phrases, and "why are tomato plants turning yellow" is the long tail. These are called “long tail keywords” because they’re found in the long “tail” stretching to the right of the graph as search volume is low and potential conversion rate is high. 

Why long tail keywords are important for digital marketing

Long tail keywords typically show lower search volume, lower competition and cheaper CPCs compared to single word searches.

The higher conversion probability is because a long tail keyword is generally more specific and easier to understand exactly why someone is searching it, as opposed to trying to guess the many reasons behind a query with high monthly search volume.

Therefore, it is easier to target a long tail keyword accurately with a marketing landing page.

From an SEO point of view, targeting longer, more specific search phrases makes it easier to build a website’s authority to ultimately rank for bigger keywords that carry more search volume and potential traffic.

To write SEO-focused content to target your long tail keywords, be sure to use the SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant.  

Why long tail keywords are generally longer phrases

Often (but not always), long tail keywords are phrases consisting of 3 or more words. Think about it from the searcher’s perspective. As you write a longer search query, you are adding modifiers to specify your request in hopes of receiving the most specific solution to your problem.

“Why are my tomato plants turning yellow” tells us a lot more about the searcher’s situation than “tomato plant.” That means that as a marketer, it would be much more rewarding to target a term like “why are my tomato plants turning yellow” with a specifically tailored answer a opposed to trying to target “tomato plant.”