What is Long Tail Keyword Research?
You know how you go to google and you start typing in a search phrase, like “drag and drop”? What happens? You see a few more words in the search drop down because of auto-complete. Google is helping you fine tune your search.
This is because more and more people are finding the results they want when searching with 4, 5 and even 6 terms rather than one or two keywords.
So what is long tail keyword research?
It's the research that finds the 4 or 5 word phrases that people are using that brings them to your site. The 4, 5 or 6 word phrases are called “long tail keywords.”
How can you leverage that research?
There are three things I've learned by using a long tail keyword research tool:
- I've found what site visitors are searching for
- I've found terms I probably should have been using
- I've discovered what parts of my site are most interesting
The Research Tool I use: HitTail
When I log in to HitTail, I see this.
That middle column with phrases is generated using HitTail‘s secret sauce. What I know is that it's looking at the existing traffic that's coming to my site and telling me what phrases work best for them. So since they've already searched, used terms, and now arrived at my site, HitTail can determine the best phrases to suggest to me.
HitTail differs from other tools
HitTail, compared to other long tail keyword research tools, was incredibly easy to use and fast to get started with. It didn't require that I tell it anything. I didn't have to define my keywords. I didn't have to give it filters or other sites to look at. I didn't have to do anything.
All I needed to do was write my articles.
The more I wrote, the more traffic I received. And the more traffic I received, the more HitTail was able to determine phrases to suggest. And then I'd look at those phrases and realize some of my mistakes.
Example One: Drag & Drop vs Drag & Drop WordPress Themes
I use WordPress SEO by Yoast to review my SEO on any article I write. While I don't live by the green little dot that tells me I'm ok to publish, it sure is nice to see it.
So when I wrote about drag and drop WordPress themes, I initially just put “drag & drop”. But then I noticed that people were searching for “drag & drop WordPress themes” and finding my article. So I went back and changed the keyword. HitTail had helped me think more effectively about the details of the terms I should use.
Note that nothing in the article changed. But I also discovered enough traffic that I went on to write another article using the terms as well.
The result was that I moved from page 3 to page 1 and into a nice position behind two vendors (who likely spend a lot more time thinking about drag & drop WordPress themes than I do).
Example Two: Comparing WordPress Membership Plugins
I'd written about a variety of plugins and themes for a few months when I noticed that a lot of my traffic was coming using the term “comparing” and I thought – that's a spot I'm comfortable with. I'm not going to write about writing great plugins or designing great themes (I'm more on the business side of things in the WordPress community).
And it all came from the research HitTail was doing for me, as I wrote naturally. And I can't complain with the results. I won't win the race for “membership plugins” but when I use the long tail keywords that people use, I show up towards the top.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about blogging was simple:
Just write like you're talking to the person you're trying to help. It doesn't have to be short. Then monitor the kind of traffic that the article brings and see if it's like the person you thought you were talking to.
I never would have thought about things this way. But it's really helped. And more importantly, HitTail helps me track “the kind of traffic that the article brings” – which is why I recommend it to you.
If you check it out – let me know what you think. And if you're already using it – tell me how you like it.