When Does A Keyword Become A Long Tail Keyword?

by KenJ
22 replies
My mind is spinning a bit with keyword research having been on it for a couple of hours this evening.
In Deciding the main keywords for a new project I was considering what are main keywords and what qualify as long tail.

Are the parameters for a good long tail keyword

1. Number of words
2. Search vs competition levels
3. something else

I thought this might be a useful discussion point for all.

Kenj
#keyword #long #tail
  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    When the tail grows long. :rolleyes:

    Just kidding. I think when the phrase is 3 or more words most folks would call it a long tail. That can be misleading though. Long tail typically signifies a less competitive keyword that is relatively easy to get a page or site ranked highly for. Some three-word key phrases wouldn't qualify under that stipulation.
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  • Profile picture of the author TamaD
    Ken,

    Most Long tails are 3 or more words, but it also has to do with generality of the word.

    A short tail is a shorter phrase, one or more words but a less specific phrase.

    Longtail would constitute an extra word or two and MORE specific in nature.

    I hope that helps !
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  • Profile picture of the author jonnoryan
    If you plan to promote these long tail keyword using ezine articles, pay attention to their guidelines. As far as I can remember, if you want to use more than 3 words in your keyword phrase in the resource box, you have to increase the word count in your article body
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  • Profile picture of the author raj5
    good question kenj, I think 3 or more words is in a keyword phrase is classed as a long tail keyword.
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  • Profile picture of the author GSX Enterprises
    I would even consider a 2 word ultra low competition keyword a long tail, because I've been ranking great for 2 word keyword strings with under 1000 competition (believe it or not they are out there... =)

    -Safe Travels
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    • Profile picture of the author s.chas
      3 or more words from my experience. So for example:

      Short: web design
      Long: small business web design

      Hope that helps.
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      • Profile picture of the author Hasan Barbary
        From the horse's mouth~ here is Chris Anderson's October 2004 article in WIRED magazine where he coined the phrase

        The Long Tail

        Technically speaking, a keyword phrase is deemed to be "long tail" by the LOW # OF SEARCHES WITHIN A BROADER NICHE. Usually that means more words in the phrase, but not always.

        One key marketing point that Mr. Anderson makes ~ he contrasts Rhapsody and MP3.com in his case study ~ is that ideally you want to target both parts of the search/sales curve: the meaty, broad market as well as the long tail fringes.

        I like to go back to this "Old School" document from time to time; it's an excellent refresher course in digital product marketing and macroeconomics.

        Cheers!
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        • Profile picture of the author DamianK
          Holy smokes, a question I can actually answer!!

          A long tail keyword is basically a term used to describe the way that many people search online today. Their searches have become more specific.

          So the longtail keyword automatically narrows down your competition, as least for article writing as I have not yet ventured in PPC.

          For example,"marketing" is a keyword, as is"online marketing" or "network marketing". But today why not take it even further? I have an article entitled "The Best Network Marketing Companies are all the same!"

          My keyword is "best online marketing companies".

          Now also keep in mind when doing keyword research, if for articles, make sure to ignore the competition bars on the left. Take grouped keywords you like or are writing about, copy it, paste it to the google searchbar but put the quotes on either side of it like so.

          "Best Network Marketing Companies"

          You will then be able to see the EXACT number of competition for THAT keyword. Under 35,000 is acceptable.
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        • Profile picture of the author RanD
          Ideally, you would also like to have short tail keyword(s) withing your long tail phrase. That way you would slowly be building up some juice for that too. Depending on the, that may not help or be possible.

          Dog training is always a good example. So let's say "Train your dog" is a short tailed keyword phrase at this point. "How to train your dog" would be a long tailed phrase, but it still contains the shorter phrase "Train your dog". You could go even longer tailed with "How to train your dog to fetch". Depending on competition, you may have to go more specific with something like "How to train your beagle" or "How to train your beagle to fetch". In some cases people actually type in questions frequently like "How do you teach your dog to fetch", so that might be good.

          You have to do the research though, to make sure people actually search using those terms. They do know good if no one actually searches for them, or if competition is already high because of other people already using the long tailed phrase.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    Hi Kenj,

    You have a right bag of mixed answers - some people mistakenly think that more words = long tail.

    This is obviously not the case and probably the reason you asked the question.

    Hasan nailed it for you.

    It's all about the area under the curve when you plot demand against products. The less in-demand products create a tail to the market. In the old days when you had to store things on shelves (take a record store or book store for example), the store owner would need to assess which products were most in demand and base their shelve space on that. Products which wouldn't sell enough to be worth taking up space would simply have to be ordered in when needed.

    With the Internet changing all of that - you can advertise an almost unlimited number of items and you just need server space for your pages - which is as good as unlimited these days.

    So - when people use the term long tail to refer to keywords you open up a can of worms because there is no set number of words - it depends what the words are and how you use them.

    I could say "big cars that use lots of fuel and are comfortable" is my niche - but "Aston Martin DB5" is much more targeted and long tail. If I wanted to make that even longer tail I might add the word "black" to it in order to appeal to people after that particular colour. If I added the words "eye-catching" my phrase is bigger but it's no more long tail than before.

    So - while in general (very general) terms, more words in a phrase is probably going to move it further down the long tail - it's not necessarily the case.

    So - when it comes to IM and using these terms, you're probably better off just assessing your particular niche, looking at the demand and picking a point at which the demand and competition are at a place where it makes sense for you to put some effort.

    Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author dsmpublishing
    Hi guys

    i consider anything that has more than one word a long tail keyword as its a more specific keyword!!

    kind regards


    sam
    X
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    • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
      Originally Posted by dsmpublishing View Post

      Hi guys

      i consider anything that has more than one word a long tail keyword as its a more specific keyword!!

      kind regards


      sam
      X
      More words is not the same as a more specific customer ... That's what confuses people - and even if it was more specific, that's still not the same as in-demand.

      The point of going further down the tail is to put together lower demand with products that wouldn't normally be available to them from generic sources.

      Saying "a big pink fluffy dark coloured animal toy" is more verbose but less specific than "6 foot pink panther toy"

      If people are searching for pink panther then less words that are more specific to that search are obviously better than 10 words which are not what are being searched for.

      Demand - and Product - those are the 2 components required to determine the market curve and therefore the shape, and long tail part.

      Andy
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    I think it's a combination of both factors. For me to consider a keyword long-tail, it'd have to be at least 3 words or more. In addition to that, the competition level and number of searches would have to be fairly low. I wouldn't obsess too much over the definition of it - just try to find lots and lots of these relevant long-tails and you'll get plenty of targeted traffic to your site and/or offer!
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    • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
      Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

      I think it's a combination of both factors. For me to consider a keyword long-tail, it'd have to be at least 3 words or more. In addition to that, the competition level and number of searches would have to be fairly low. I wouldn't obsess too much over the definition of it - just try to find lots and lots of these relevant long-tails and you'll get plenty of targeted traffic to your site and/or offer!
      You summed it up nicely - YOUR decisions are nothing to do with peoples different interpretations (correct or not) of what the long tail is actually all about - the real take away is what does this knowledge do for you and what new actions can you take.

      The take away is - look for low demand, low competition phrases that are actually being searched for and include them in your marketing efforts - simple.

      Nothing new and it makes long tail etc.. pretty much irrelevant compared to research and common sense.
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  • Profile picture of the author MisterMunch
    I think it depends on how many keywords your website is targeting.

    If you are only working with one keyword (no matter how many words that is) you are going short tail, but if you have 1000 articles about one subject, you are going long tail.

    One article might only be read between two or ten times a month, but combined thay start to become powerfull.
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  • Profile picture of the author Magpieguy
    Hey kenj. I've recently done my first web site and have just had the same dilema. Its a dieting site for moms. I chose keywords like 'lose weight fast' and 'easy weight loss'. I was told that it would take a good 6 months to make any impression on google because I'd be competing with so many established sites. Apparently I needed long tailed one. So ended up with 'how do I lose weight afterhaving a baby' and 'how can I lose my baby fat after having a baby' etc. I'm told that these will get u the google pages much quicker. We'll see!
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    • Profile picture of the author Joshua.E1
      Long Tail Keyword has 3 keyword and more words. They are usually related to the main keyword. For example:

      Main keyword: dog training

      related long tail keywords: dog training for gsp, diy dog training at home, puppy dog training, etc...

      Of course the longer the keywords the lesser the traffic, BUT they are a better traffic then the more general ones.

      Hope it helps.
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      • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
        Originally Posted by Joshua.E1 View Post

        Long Tail Keyword has 3 keyword and more words.
        THAT IS WRONG!!!!!

        I wish people wouldn't say such things - quotes like that are the exact reason that people get confused.
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  • Profile picture of the author Grayth
    excellent discussion I've always used the simple approach like others above keywords that are more then 3 words in length..then I narrow it down by search volume and competing google results to find the ones I want to target
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    • Profile picture of the author KenJ
      Hasan

      Thanks a million

      I have just read your link (Took a while)
      This was the most helpful description of the long tail I have ever seen.
      As a musician I completely understand the market used to define long tail.
      And believe me my music is very long tail

      Kenj
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      • Profile picture of the author Hasan Barbary
        Originally Posted by kenj View Post

        Hasan

        Thanks a million

        I have just read your link (Took a while)
        This was the most helpful description of the long tail I have ever seen.
        As a musician I completely understand the market used to define long tail.
        And believe me my music is very long tail

        Kenj
        Kenj, you're most welcome! I'm a musician myself... bass guitar, jazz mostly. (Yet another example of longtail demand). I guess great minds think alike!
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