What are Long Tail Keywords?
To explain what long tail keywords are, let’s suppose that you are selling olives on your website.
If you try to target your site for the obvious keyword “olives”, then it will be very hard and challenging for your page or site to be ranked very high on the search engine results page. This is simply because there are too many pages out there about olives. There is too much competition. Too many other websites want to be ranked highly for the word “olives”.
Therefore, we have to be more specific. What type of olives are you selling? Are they Kalamata olives? Are they black olives? Or are they green olives? Okay, let’s say they are green olives.
So a keyword with less competition would be “green olives”. There will be less competition because there are fewer websites that are specifically about “green olives” than websites about “olives”. Nevertheless, if you do a web search for that phrase, you will still get a lot of search results. Competition is still high and still tough to be getting on the first page of the search results.
So let’s go a little bit more specific. Are the olives with seed or pitted? Let’s say they are pitted as an example. So our long tail keyword would be “pitted green olives”. This can be considered a long tail keyword example that we should put in our titles, alt tags, and so on.
Mike at Market Pro Media says “The characteristic of a long tail keyword is that fewer people will be searching for that keyword phrase. However, there will also be less competition, increasing the chances that your web page will come up higher in the search results when such a search for that keyword phrase does occur.”
It is a trade-off. Visualize a graph with the vertical axes indicating the number of searches, and horizontal axes of all the possible keyword phrase. On the left side of the horizontal axes, you have the keyword “olives”. The number of searches for that is high. Further to the right on the horizontal axis would be “green olives”. Moving further to the right on the horizontal axis would be “pitted green olives”. We are getting more and more specific as we move right on the horizontal axis. And the number of searches for those keywords well is less and less.
It is the keywords on the right side of the horizontal axes that is known as the long tail keywords because they are in the long tail region of that graph. These are very specific keyword phrases that do not have a lot of competition. They have the advantage of being able to bring your web page to the first page of the search result.
The phrase “organic pitted green olives” would be considered an even longer tail keyword phrase. Since olives can be packaged either in cans or jars, the phrase “organic pitted green olives in a jar” would be even still further right on that graph.
Now, you do not want to go too far to the right. Otherwise, the number of search volume would be too low to be of any use. In this case, it might be too specific. There would be an optimum area somewhere within the graph where you should aim your keyword phrases to be. You can see the approximate number of searches per month using that Google external keyword tool.
So I hope this would help explain what it means when you read “long tail keywords” in search engine optimization literature.