Long Tail Keywords In The Real World – 5 Practical Examples

Written by Devin Sizemore

September 17, 2015

Perhaps you’ve noticed…

We talk about long tail keywords quite a bit.

Obviously long tail keywords are at the very core of the Long Tail Pro software, but there is a reason for that…

They work.

What are long tail keywords?

Finding and ranking for low competition keywords has been an instrumental part of our own businesses and personal websites for a number of years.

Let me show you a recent example:

Here is a screenshot of the organic (search engine) traffic for a site I’ve been doing in my free time. This is just showing the growth from July to today (The low day in August was a tracking error):

long tail keyword results

What have we been doing?

Finding low competition keywords using the long tail keyword tool in Long Tail Pro and creating high quality content focused on those keywords.

Your Execution Strategy

I’ll assume that we all agree that finding the low competition, long tail keywords in your industry is a smart idea.

Now the question becomes, how do you execute this strategy? How to find ling tail keywords?

The truth is that it takes some creativity and hard work.

For instance, looking for inspiration and ideas during the initial brainstorming process can help you discover seed keywords that aren’t so obvious. A while back I went through this exercise using forums and the Amazon Kindle Store to find some keyword ideas in the healthy eating space. Click here to see that post.

Once you’ve found an idea, it’s important to create excellent content.

There are never any guarantees with Google, but creating something of true value that targets the long tail keyword and delights visitors is going to give you the best opportunity to rank well in the search engines.

Click here to see the 9 ingredients of great content from KISSMetrics.

Today we’re going to look at several businesses that have used this same strategy to achieve success.

My hope is that by sharing examples from a variety of real-world industries, you’ll see that this concept can work for virtually any business,

1. Comparison Keywords as Long Tail Keywords

Henry O’Loughlin is the Director of Marketing at Nectafy, an inbound marketing company.

He wrote recently about “comparison keywords” which often make for excellent long tail keywords. For example, if you own an Amazon Affiliate Site, you a comparison keyword might be ‘Aeropress vs French Press’ – a keyword comparing two products or two brands.

Basically you look for services, tools, products, etc. that your readers might use and compare them. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea, but you might be surprised just how many “versus” style post opportunities there are in your niche.

In Nectafy’s case, they focused on the keyword “hubspot vs. google analytics” since many of their clients use those tools, and might be interested in learning more about the similarities and differences between them.

Currently, they rank #1 for this keyword with this post that was only written a few months ago.

Long tail keywords, Google ranking example

This is a perfect example of how to use long tail keywords;  the fact that when you focus on low competition keywords, you have the ability to rank well much faster. You can often find keywords like this at the very low end of search volume in Long Tail Pro (e.g 10 monthly searches). You can also use tools like Ubersuggest to find these types of comparison keywords.

If they’d written a general overview of Google Analytics, I have my doubts that they’d be #1 for the search term “Google Analytics” anytime soon…

Although the target keyword gets searched less than 100 times per month on average, Henry reports that “We posted it 4 months ago and we’re on pace for 3,000 visits and 30 leads in the first year. That’s not a massive win, but if each blog post performed this well… every single company in the world would say it makes sense to write.”

Henry makes a brilliant point that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Long tail keywords aren’t a ‘one and done’ strategy. Nectafy isn’t going to build a business just by ranking #1 for “hubspot vs. google analytics.”  However, by finding dozens of these keywords and repeating the process, suddenly they have a lead generation machine that is very inexpensive to run.

The final thing to highlight from this example is that traffic alone isn’t the goal.

It’s ultimately about leads and sales.

Nectafy has several calls to action like a free ebook and a free guide to inbound marketing that serve as a way for them to capture leads:

Long tail keywords, lead magnet example

Make sure you prepare for this in advance by thinking about a content upgrade or call to action to accompany your content. If not, you’ll likely see a lot of nice traffic statistics without the increased leads that should accompany them.

2. Make A Celebrity Connection

Don’t worry – I’m not saying you have to actually make a personal connection to a celebrity in order to make this tactic work.

What I am saying is that people gravitate towards celebrities and often want to be like them in one way or another.

For example, in my last post about our long tail YouTube marketing strategy, I talked about a successful YouTube channel called ILoveBasketballTV. Many of their videos teach people how to do things like the best players in the NBA.

If you search YouTube for “How to shoot a basketball like Stephen Curry” you’ll find that they rank at the top, and have over 1,000,000 views on their tutorial of how to emulate Curry’s jump shot.

There is power in a celebrity connection.

Nitish Kumar of WiseCalvin.com tapped into this concept with his fitness website.

He recognized that trying to rank well for competitive searches in the fitness market was going to be darn near impossible for a new fitness website. So Nitish started thinking long tail and how to use long tail keywords.

Perhaps the most famous soccer player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s famous for both his skills on the field and his physique.

There are plenty of guys who’d love to have a body like Rondaldo, so what do you think they are searching Google for?

They want to know how Ronaldo works out, what he eats, and other secrets to his success. So Nitish built this resource that shares this information.

Long tail keywords, Ronaldo Workout Example

He now ranks well for phrases like “get fit like Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Cristiano Ronaldo workout.”

By starting with long tail keywords, WorkoutTrends.com has now started to also rank for more competitive keywords – taking their organic traffic to the next level. Here is a look at their traffic numbers for the last couple of weeks:

Long tail keywords, Site Stats

In addition to the traffic, they’ve also seen a spike in opt-ins (leads) and their sale of affiliate products.

Are there any celebrities or thought leaders in your industry that you could piggy back off of to bring in free traffic?

3. Master Local Real Estate

Ivan Ciraj is a Realtor in Ontario, Canada and runs the site SquareOneLife.com. Real estate is a highly competitive space – both with local brokerages and huge sites like Zillow and Trulia also vying for that traffic.

Ivan specializes in buying and selling condos in the Square One/Mississauga area, so he decided to focus his content on specific condos, new developments, specific lofts and addresses, and other popular buildings in the area.

Ivan described his reasoning for this strategy this way: “I knew this because condo building addresses and names were very specific and not competitive, but if they ranked high, the visitors would be highly filtered and therefore easily convertible into leads and thus sales.”

It’s a fantastic point and yet another benefit of focusing on long tail keywords.

Often, you are pulling in visitors who are much closer to making a purchase, and have a real buyer intent.

Ivan has a blog, but he also does reviews of different condo complexes. The page for each complex is actually full of images, statistics, and listings inside of that building  – not just some thin content you’d skip past.

The result is that if you were interested in the Chelsea Towers in Mississauga and “Googled” it, you’ll find SquareOneLife.com near the top:

Long tail keywords, Real estate keyword example

There are many condo complexes in the Mississauga area, and Ivan ranks near the top for all kinds of condo-specific phrases.

Because of these high rankings, Ivan gets 5 – 10 new real estate leads per day from organic traffic alone. As stated earlier, many of these turn out to be very high quality. In addition, a real estate lead that turns into a sale can be worth 5 figures, easily. This is a great example of how to use long tail keywords.

4. A Rural Goldmine

Andrew Akesson of Venn Digital in the UK shared a story of a client who made a splash by focusing on the often-overlooked rural areas they served. Many of these small communities weren’t mentioned on their competitor’s websites, which left the door wide open for them to include these rural areas and score some easy traffic.

The company Andrew worked with is actually a supplier of residential heating oil, and at the time they had very little brand awareness in the area.

Without a huge budget to pour into paid advertising, they turned to a long tail keyword strategy that didn’t cost much at all.

Here are the highlights of what they did:

1. They made an update to their “coverage” page and included every town and area that they serve.

Let’s use my hometown of Cincinnati, OH as an example to illustrate the concept. On my page of the areas I serve, rather than simply saying “Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky” I’d list out all the different suburbs and areas that would fall under that umbrella like Mason, Anderson, Fort Thomas, etc.

2. Next they linked every area in the list to a page specifically focused on that place. In my Cincinnati example, I’d have a page optimized for “Mason Heating Oil” that has both general, and area specific information.

3. Since their larger competitors hadn’t really created content that mentioned the rural areas they served, they were able to rank #1 for a number of different terms like “AREA heating oil” because the competition was so low.

The results were spectacular!

Although they took this approach in the middle of 2013, they started seeing results that very first winter. Once they saw the strategy was working, they doubled down with more location-specific landing pages for 2014.

Here is a look at the traffic to location-specific landing pages for the winter of 2013 and 2014:

Long tail keywords, Winter Traffic SpikeThe winter of 2014 saw a 50% bump in traffic, and overall the new sales generated from these location pages alone generated an ROI of 1644%. 

5. The Service Consolidation

While our last example found success by creating a bunch of new pages for the areas they served, these guys had better luck through consolidation.

Jason Parks, owner of the Media Captain in Columbus, OH decided that it made the most sense to categorize and consolidate all the different services they offer. Rather than having 40+ individual service pages, they created larger categories like Online Advertising which has allowed them to rank very well locally for searches like “Online Advertising Company in Columbus.”

Jason went on to say “If you take it one step further though, there are niche services within online advertising, like display remarketing. If you conduct a search for “display remarketing advertising company in Columbus” we also rank well for this longer tail keyword.

Instead of having a lot of different pages for the 40+ services that we can offer, we consolidated it into fewer pages trying to give more authority to each page. We have grouped different niches, like PPC advertising, display, video advertising, all within the online advertising umbrella.”

There are certainly plenty of cases where long tail keyword consolidation makes sense. If bringing a bunch of related keywords under one “umbrella” makes for a better user experience, then you should absolutely do it.

Most of the time, longer content performs better in the search engines anyway. Serpiq put together some data a couple years back showing how many words of content were in the top 10 search results on average. Check out the graph:

Search content lenght

So maybe you’ve found a few related keywords with a small amount of search volume, perhaps creating the “ultimate guide” on that topic and using your keywords in different subsections would be the way to go.

Another example of this is the post on Survival Life with 36 different paracord projects. This post ranks for hundreds of long tail, paracord-related keywords. It naturally gets links and social shares because of the value it provides to the reader, which contributes to it’s organic traffic success.

In this case, consolidating into 1 list of 36 ideas is much better than having 36 different posts with 1 idea each.

Wrap up

Hopefully this list gets your wheels spinning a little bit. Here is a quick summary of questions to ask yourself in order to find better long tail keyword opportunities:

  • What are the things in your space that your target audience would love to see an in-depth comparison on?
  • Which celebrities can you use to share your expertise? How to be funny like_____, How to get abs like _____, How to sell like ______.
  • Can you provide better, more specific content on things your competitors are not?
  • Do you talk about all the areas you serve? If not, how can you add that information and improve both the user experience and your local search presence?
  • Which pages can you consolidate into 1 “hub.” These could be your services like The Media Captain, or it could be combining shorter blog post ideas into one large guide.

Best of luck!

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  1. Henry O'Loughlin

    Thanks for including me, Jake! This is a super informative article. I think I took away one important concept from numbers 2 – 5. Typically, short phrases or concepts are hard to rank for. But names of people, names of towns, names of other companies are typically not nearly as competitive. So if you can do it right without offending/infringing on the celebrity or company you write about, you’re much more likely to rank.

  2. Jonathan Nunez

    Thank you for the awesome article, it is very informative. I’ve been using LTP for a little over 3 months now and I’ve found it to be an incredible tool. However, I’d love to know if you have any plans in the future to implement Majestic Analysis like trust flow within LTP, I believe that would make this tool the absolute best.

    Have an amazing day!

    Jonathan N

  3. Andrew

    That’s very motivational. It’s my strategy to write articles inspired by long tail searches but it can get to the point where I’m writing about stuff SO niche that I can feel the life draining out of me as I’m writing it. Good to see that there’s a payoff in the end…

  4. Richard

    You really provided great information to us. This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing.


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