OR The Short Tale of the Long-Tail Keyword

In Norse mythology, the monstrous Jormungandr was thrown into the heaving seas. His tail was said to be long enough to encircle the world and fit back into his own mouth: when he releases his tail, the end of the world begins. Yikes!

Seems like as far back as we can remember, we’ve been thrilled by the idea of the long-tailed beastie. And we still are.

Behold, The Long-Tail Keyword

Like a mythical creature from a fantastical land, the long-tail keyword has been thrown out into the vastness of the internet. Now that the virtual seas are somewhat teaming with keywords, the long-tail keyword has been brought back to the consciousness of the world of online marketing, enchanting the business world and the marketers alike.

However, you need to know how to best utilise the power that is the long-tail keyword, you want to be able to wrangle them into using their powers for your business’s advantage, stop them eating your livestock, villagers, and ending the world as we know it. Why?

Legend has it the long-tail keyword has the ability to bring you traffic that converts.

So, what in the world is a long-tail keyword? Oh don’t worry. I’ll be giving that up real soon.

First, let’s talk about its predecessor: The Keyword.

You would have already heard of the keyword. Slightly less mythical, this small creature is what people type into search engines to look for websites, and is also what websites and content marketing should be targeting if they want to appear in search engine results.

If you sell gumboots for for geese, then you would probably target ‘goose gumboots’ as the keywords in your website.

The keyword is still a useful creature, but its power has limits. It’s got a short-tail. Not as valuable.

Let’s say you’re selling goose gumboots, and you’re targeting the keywords ‘goose gumboots’. Restricting your marketing strategy to short phrases or single keywords (or head-words) isn’t going to be enough. Especially if Gooseboots R’ Us down the road has already targeted your words and now corners the market in your industry.

When you’re writing content towards certain keywords, it’s better to think more strategically than trying to cast such a broad net. 

The Evolution of Long-Tail Keyword Search

With more and more people using search engines, smartphones, and voice activated search options like Siri, single and short-tail keywords have found limits to their power. The way people use search engines has evolved, and agile world of search is evolving right alongside us. Which brings me to the rise and rise of the long-tail keyword.

What Is A Long-Tail Keyword?

Long-tail keywords are like half sentences, questions, and/or phrases people use to search. They’re more in line with how we speak, therefore how we think; the long-tail keyword aligns closely to the statement of a problem. We’re posing questions in natural language rather than just a couple of words, thinking we’ll get the most relevant search engine results. And that thinking is correct.

In fact, SEO specialist Leanne O’Sullivan recently said in a Crisp Copy Class Masterclass; “Stop thinking keyword, start thinking key phrase’.

She’s clever.

Targeting (the right) long-tail keywords may also connect you to ideal clients who are ready to make a decision. Because they’re more specific, they speak to people who know what they’re looking for.

Hang on, won’t a longer, more specific search phrase give me less traffic?

Yup. Considerably less, but consider this:

Think of single keyword and short key-phrases as the trawler nets of the internets. They gather so much stuff, how can anyone find you? And if someone finds you, will it be the right person?

If you keep using ‘goose gumboots’, yes, you might even get a few people actually looking to buy your gumboots for fowl. But, you’ll also get people who want boots which look like geese, people who want geese wings and pheasant feathers on their shoes, or people trying to figure out how to wear an actual goose as a boot. Even if you manage to get loads of traffic on your site using the words, apart from making you feel, like so popular, it’s false economy. None of these people care about your goose gumboots because none of them are a) your ideal client, or b) ready to buy.

Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all the searches on the internet.

Seventy. Percent.

And according to the likes of Wordstream, Hubspot, and Neil Patel, long-tail keywords with and without on-page SEO optimisation both have greater impact than single keywords. That means:

Long-tail keyword searches lure prospects who fit your niche AND are ready to buy.

Using “gumboots for geese” is much better, and “hand-stitched rubber gumboots for geese with organic, biodynamic lining” will bring you the searchers who know exactly what they’re looking for. And they’re looking for it because they want to buy it – darn it all, their geese are special, yo, and its feet are getting wet. 

Long-tail keywords will individually bring you less visitors less often, however they are far more likely to bring you converting customers. They are absolutely worth the money.

So is doing the research so you know how your people speak, and what your people are searching for. How do you do that? Keyword research isn’t an exact science, but it’s not a wild stab in the dark either.

Be Your Niche

So, we know for long-tail keywords to work for us they need to be the right words. But how do you find the right words? I employ SEO experts and invite them to speak at my events. And there’s a point all of them agree on. Jim Stewart from BloggersSEO and Leanne O’Sullivan from Leanne O have the same answer when people are asking for technical advice on how to do their keyword research. (We all want to use an app, right?)

Are you ready for it? Here it is:


Think about your ideal client. Think about what they’d be putting into a search. You kind of need to live and breathe your ideal client. Hang where they hang, learn how they speak if you don’t already speak the same way, find out what they’re searching and how they search. It’s really, really important, because as Leanne says, “Your ideal client is ready to make a decision.” Whoa. Mind, blown. And they want you, their ideal business, to make it all so easy for them to do that.

Stop thinking “keyWORD” and start thinking ‘key concepts’, or ‘keyword PHRASE’. When you’re writing your page, remember: be specific. One page, one selling thing = one keyword phrase (just like Sales pages). Once you manage to find the right long-tail keyword phrase, it gets easier.

Long-Tail Keywords Take-Away:

  • Long-tail keywords are ‘key phrase’ searches which follow our speech rhythms
  • Long-tail keywords account for 70% of all internet searches
  • They give you less traffic less often, but catches your ideal client when they want to buy
  • For long-tail keywords to work properly, use search phrases your target market uses
  • Organic and biodynamic is best when selling goose gumboots.


And just for a final fun fact: Long-tail keywords are copy-friendly

From a copywriting point of view, long-tail keywords are easier to fold naturally into web content and blogs as well, because they roll organically off the tongue. You still need relevant, well-written, copy and content which engages your target and self-weeds: no amount of SEO magic will help you attract the ‘right’ person – that’s your copy’s job. If you’re writing your own copy and need to make that DIY dazzle, or just want some done-for-you copy (featuring that shimmering chimaera, the ultimate long-tail keyword), hop on over to get your copy crisped.


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