The Key to SEO? Long Tail Keywords

Learn how long tail keywords play an important role in SEO.

As search engine optimization, or SEO, continues to be one of the most dominant forms of digital marketing, it has become ever-more important to use each of its features to maximize your digital presence. For those who don’t know, SEO involves taking keywords and phrases commonly searched on Google and strategically placing them on your webpage. And knowing the difference between specific head and long tail keywords could make the difference in reaching the right person.

Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? On the second page of Google.

The Inverted Pyramid

Traditionally the Inverted Pyramid is used for organizing news stories from the most important information to the least. However, for this exercise, think of it as a funnel. When someone searches for something on Google, they usually don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. They may start with a general idea before narrowing their search to exactly what they need. When designing your website, throwing a bunch of keywords at the wall and hoping they stick isn’t enough. Instead, write with the searcher in mind. 

Head Keywords

First, we start with head keywords. These keywords are terms or phrases that categorize your website or business. They are used in the headers of webpages to describe what your company does. For example, say you own a lawn care service. A head keyword for you could simply be ‘lawn care service.’ It’s a pretty common search, and there are a ton of lawn care services across the web.

Because there is a lot of competition for that keyword, it’ll be tough to reach the top of Google’s results, let alone the first page. However, head keywords do serve a purpose in keeping your website consistent and organized. They start to narrow a customer’s search, and that’s when long tail keywords come into play.

Long Tail Keywords

In contrast to head keywords, long tail keywords are very specific phrases, usually four words or more, that separate you from other businesses in your industry. These long tails are placed in the sub-headers and bullet points on your webpages, and as we said before, the devil’s in the details. For the lawn care example, these could be anything from ‘best lawn care service near me,’ to ‘cheap commercial landscaping mulching.’ Long tail keywords are what separates your content from the rest. It’s in these phrases that you can rise on Google’s rankings and find your ideal customer. 

For each unique long tail keyword you have, the more likely your website will rank.

When designing your website, each page should serve a purpose and adhere to SEO standards. Creating pages and posts that utilize long tail keywords that pertain to your business is crucial to making your way up on Google’s rankings.

Webpage Content

The final layer to the pyramid is the content itself. Although it comes at the bottom, it’s certainly important. Once you have reeled a customer onto your website, it’s important to have awesome and interesting content that will keep them there. We go more into improving your website and content marketing in our other blog posts. 

Finding the Right Long Tail Keywords

For your long tail keywords, it’s important to focus on three factors: average monthly searches, competition and conversion rate. Long tail keywords are usually low in average monthly searches, low in competition and high in conversion rate.

This graph shows the relationship between head and long tail keywords. The higher the competition, the lower the conversion rate.

Average Monthly Searches

The average monthly searches for a keyword are just that. This is the number that indicates how many people are searching for that specific keyword. Long tail keywords have relatively lower monthly searches because they are more specific terms.


The competition for a keyword measures how popular it is among bidders relative to every other keyword. It’s usually listed between Low, Medium and High. This gauges how fierce the competition is to be on the top of the results for a particular keyword. Long tail keywords are typically Low, but could be Medium depending on their popularity.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is how likely your keyword will result in a visit to your website, and the higher the conversion rate, the more likely you will see your website near the top of search rankings. Conversion rate goes hand in hand with web analytics and your return on investment. Long tail keywords typically result in much higher conversion rates.


The most important thing in SEO keyword research is understanding your business and your ideal customer. Create and place content that will target them and see how head keywords and long tail keywords will improve your digital marketing and drive traffic to your website.