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The Pros and Cons of Targeting Long-Tail Keywords

Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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If you’re a small business owner, then you see that competing in today’s online marketplace is more demanding than ever. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s critical to target long-tail keywords – those specific, niche terms that aren’t as commonly searched for as shorter keywords but have significantly less competition.

For many businesses, 70% of their traffic comes from long-tail keywords when compared to shorter search terms. 

But before you start targeting long-tail keywords, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of doing so. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the key benefits and drawbacks of targeting long-tail keywords. So read on to learn more!

About Keywords: Long-Tail Vs. Short-Tail

Before we can dive in and learn about the pros and cons of targeting long-tail keywords, let’s explore the concept of keywords itself.

In the simplest terms, a keyword is a word or phrase that your target audience uses to find information online.

Keyword Targeting
Search research subject terms | Image credit: Freepik

If you typed ‘weather today’ or ‘gas station near me, you’ve used keywords to get important information.

There are two types of keywords that people generally use: short-tail and long-tail.

  1. Short-tail keywords are more general and are typically higher in traffic but also have higher competition. They consist of 1-3 words.
  2. Long-tail keywords, however, are more specific and are typically lower in traffic but also have less competition. They usually include more than three words.

Which type of keyword you should target depends on your business and marketing goals. It also depends on your current standing in the market, i.e.,  how established is your brand? Do you have authority in your niche? Do you create regular high-quality content?

Some examples of short-tail keywords are:

  • marketing
  • SEO
  • coding classes
  • shower curtains

Some examples of long-tail keywords are:

  • marketing strategies for small businesses
  • how to do SEO for non-profit organizations”
  • free python coding classes online
  • custom shower curtains for small bathrooms

Should you target short-tail or long-tail keywords?

The best way to know if you should target short-tail or long-tail keywords is to do your research.

Let’s assume that you run a digital marketing agency. One of the terms you could rank for is ‘digital marketing. This is a short-tail keyword.

Using an SEO tool, you’ll see that while the search volume is high, it’s also difficult to rank for this term unless you’re already an established and high-authority brand online.

But if you tried a long-tail keyword like ‘digital marketing agency Denver, you’d see that the search volume is lower but ranking for this term is easier too.

In general, a new business would be better served by targeting long-tail keywords. But that doesn’t mean that targeting long-tail content doesn’t have disadvantages either. Let’s dive into the real meat of the issue: the pros and cons of long-tail keyword targeting.

The cons of targeting long-tail keywords:

Here are the main reasons you’d want to limit targeting long-tail keywords.

1. Long-tail keywords have less search volume

This is probably the most significant disadvantage of targeting long-tail keywords. The search volume for long-tail keywords is significantly lower than for short-tail keywords.

This means that you’ll get less traffic from your content if you target long-tail keywords.

2. They are hard to identify

The other disadvantage of long-tail keywords is that they are challenging to identify. While you can use some tools and methods to find them, it’s not always easy to find the right long-tail keywords for your business.

In many cases, when you do get ideas or recommendations for long-tail keywords, they can seem wildly irrelevant to your business and business goals.

3. They can be hard to use organically

Targeting long-tail keywords can also be challenging to use organically in your content.

Since they are more specific, it’s not always easy to weave them into your content in a way that sounds natural and doesn’t seem forced.

4. You might not get the same results as with short-tail keywords.

Targeting long-tail keywords also mean that you might not see the same results as you targeted short-tail keywords.

Since the search volume is lower, you might not get as many visitors to your website or as many leads from your content.

The pros of targeting long-tail keywords

Now, let’s explore the pros of targeting long-tail keywords. As you understand the power of long-tail phrases in your SEO strategy, you’ll increase the use of long-tail keywords in your efforts.

1. Lower competition

One of the biggest pros of targeting long-tail keywords is that the competition is usually lower than short-tail keywords.

Since fewer people are trying to rank for long-tail keywords, it’s easier to rank higher up on SERPs or Search Engine Results Pages.

2. Lower costs

Targeting long-tail keywords is also usually less expensive than targeting short-tail keywords.

Since there is less competition, you don’t have to spend as much money on ads or other forms of marketing to rank higher.

3. More relevant traffic

Another pro of targeting long-tail keywords is that you’ll get more relevant traffic.

Since people searching for long-tail keywords are usually looking for precise information, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

4. They cater to specific searcher intent.

Targeting long-tail keywords also cater to specific searcher intent. This means that you’ll know what your audience is looking for and where they are in the marketing funnel.

For example, when someone uses a key phrase like ‘GoDaddy Vs. HostGator’, you’ll know that this user is at the consideration stage. They’re doing their research to figure out which hosting platform to use.

And someone who searches for ‘Constant Contact CRM pricing’ is on the verge of buying or has already decided that they’re ready to make a purchase.

When you identify more long-tail keywords, you’ll also create the right content for a searcher’s intent.

5. Create more conversions

Finally, targeting long-tail keywords can also lead to more conversions.

Since people searching for long-tail keywords are usually looking for certain information, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

When you create content that targets long-tail keywords, you’re more likely to see increased conversions and better results from your marketing efforts.

How to find long-tail keywords

There are a few different ways to find long-tail keywords.

1. Use Google Autocomplete

One way to find long-tail keywords is to use Google Autocomplete. To do this, start typing in a keyword or phrase into the Google search bar. As you type, Google will generate a list of related terms and keywords that people are searching for.

2. See Related Searches

Another reliable way to find long-tail keywords is to see the related searches at the bottom of the SERPs.

Try scrolling down to the bottom of the page; you’ll see a section called “Related Searches.” This section shows other phrases and keywords that people are searching for related to the keyword or phrase you typed in.

3. Use Google Keyword Planner

Another great way to find long-tail keywords is to use the Google Keyword Planner. The Google Keyword Planner is a tool that lets you see how many people are searching for a specific keyword or phrase.

You can also use Google Keyword Planner to get ideas for new keywords and phrases to target.

4. Use SEO tools and Plugins

SEO tools and plugins also offer ways to find long-tail keywords.

The most popular SEO tools are AIOSEO, Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush. These tools offer a variety of features, but one of the most popular is their ability to find long-tail keywords. There are also several SEO plugins for WordPress that offer similar features.

In the end, you should use a combination of ways to find the right keywords for your business. And to keep looking up newer potential long-tail terms that you can use to create future content. 

The Bottom Line

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), targeting long-tail keywords is essential. You can improve your SEO and get more relevant traffic to your website by targeting long-tail keywords.

However, it would help if you remembered that not all long-tail keywords are equal. Make sure you research and identify the right long-tail keywords to target.

It would help if you also worked on improving your authority and credibility. This will help you rank higher in the search results for your target keywords.

In the end, it’s worth taking the time to target long-tail keywords. They can help you improve your SEO, get more relevant traffic and increase your conversions.


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