If you’re getting started with developing search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, it can look and feel disheartening to see so many other companies trying and in some cases succeeding to get on Google’s first page. Some companies seem to have that bigger budget to pay for advertising and are the first thing customers see on Google, while you’re still struggling to get up from under the top 50 ranks.

Luckily, there is hope. Using long-tail keywords for your website is one way to get the attention of customers who are more likely to buy your product or services.

What is a Long-Tail Keyword?

A long-tail keyword is any keyword that is more specific rather than generic. Websites like Amazon.ca and Indigo Books rely on long-tail keywords, because no one is looking for a “book” – they’re looking for long-tails like “Cooking for Dummies”.

A long-tail keyword tends to pull up fewer results, meaning lower competition. It also means that the customer searching for a long-tail is more likely to buy the product or service they’re looking for; why else would they be looking for something more exact online?

What’s the difference between a plain old keyword and a long-tail keyword?

Keywords that are not considered to be long-tails usually fall into a separate category called “short-tail keywords”. For example, “car” is only one word long and the results for that one keyword can add up to billions of results! Short-tail keywords may have huge search numbers, but they also have huge competition. You can try and use these keywords for your site’s SEO, but don’t expect immediate results in search ranking.

Long-tails, on the other hand, means there is less competition for this keyword. Though the search results may not be as plentiful as “car”, the competition for “used ford buick for sale” is likely to be lower.

Here’s an Example:

Let’s say someone actually did want to buy a car. When he or she types in the word “car”, this is how many results they find:

Long tail keywords1


Not keen on scanning through so many pages, they type in something more specific: “used ford buick car seattle”:

Long tail keywords2

The end result is this customer has just become a better prospect for sales, and have become more likely to find and purchase the used Ford Buick they’re looking for in Seattle after searching the various used car lots.

How Can I Find the Best Long-Tail Keywords for My Website?

Serious keyword research and close analysis of your current SEO is the best way to find new and different long-tail keywords you may be overlooking. You may end up finding a long-tail that better suits your business and its products or services than the short-tail one.

Have you had any success with long-tail keywords? What is your experience with them so far?