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Having a long tail can help you rank better in Google search

Okay, I Google a lot.

It’s rarely – if ever – just for the craic or because I’m bored or have nothing better to do.

No, it’s because I need or want something – whether business or leisure. I guess that’s the same for most of us.

Here are just some of the things I’ve googled over the last few days… and why…

“cliff jumping Dunseverick” Because my son was going cliff jumping somewhere up there and I wanted to know where. (As a parent, what I really wanted to know was why!)

“hotels Carrickfergus” Because I needed somewhere to meet a client.

“bike shops Belfast” Because I want a new mountain bike. (Frustratingly, most of them are closed on Sunday.)

“xxxxx restaurant Holywood” Because a colleague recommended a restaurant and I wanted to check it out.

“clicks versus search ranking” Because I wanted a reference source for this article.

“xx property group UK” Because I wanted to know more about someone who had visited my LinkedIn profile.

“business insurance UK” Because I wanted to help someone out with choosing professional indemnity and public liability insurance for their business.

“xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx” Because I wanted to learn more about an opportunity for a client.

“world cup kick-off times” Because.


Spam traffic aside, every visit to your website is a real person with a real want or need.

A ‘because’.

Each of them much more than a mere metric in Google Analytics.

Each an individual with his/her particular ‘intent’… his/her own ‘because’.

Hey, some of them might even be looking for a new mountain bike. (According to KW Finder, there are an average of 320 searches per month for ‘mountain bike’ in Belfast. The busiest month is October, so good to know that I’m ahead of the pack.)

How well you meet these wants and needs of googlers – their intent – isn’t just crucial for converting visitors when they arrive at your site; it is an important factor for how well your business ranks in the first place. The higher you rank, the more clicks you get to your site.  And the more clicks you get to your site, the higher you rank…  A virtuous circle if ever there was one.

So, it’s all about quality, relevant page content that matches the searcher’s intent. To create that sort of content you need to know your customers and potential customers and what they want – who they are; their needs, wants, desires, motivators, and pain-points.

Knowing your audience helps you create content that solves their ‘problems’ and keeps them on your site and away from the dreaded back-button.

As Branded3 put it in their Top 10 ranking factors you should be optimising for in 2018:

Have the best possible answer on the web, whatever the question being asked.

A crucial part of this is understanding the words and phrases (the keywords) your potential customers are using when they’re trying to get the answers to their wants and wants. There are a number of tools out there to help you do this – we’ll look at some of them very shortly.

First a note about keywords: global SEO expert, Brian Dean of Backlinko provides the following useful definitions and examples

  • ‘Head’ keywords: these are usually single words that get high search volumes (for example, “insurance”)

  • ‘Body’ keywords: these are 2-3 word phrases that are more specific and get lower search volumes than ‘head’ keywords (for example, “life insurance”)

  •  ‘Long tail’ keywords: these are very specific phrases comprising 4+ words that get low search volumes (for example, “affordable life insurance for senior citizens”)

Here’s the thing – digital marketing publisher and learning resource, Smart Insights suggest that as people have become more used to search engines and how they work, they are now searching for more specific queries.  They go on to propose that by targeting specific long tail search queries, smaller websites have a better chance at ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for really specific and niche queries.

Let’s now look at some of those keyword tools and how they can be used to uncover those mystical long tail keywords…

The first (and obvious one) is Google’s Keyword Planner. There’s no doubting how good this is… but unless you have a Google Adwords campaign running you only see ranges for search volumes, which isn’t much use.

Google Keyword Planner #1


If you do run a campaign, this is the sort of detail you’ll see…

Google Keyword Planner #2


Good job there is lots of other great stuff out there!

Google Suggest (or Autocomplete)


And if you hit ‘return’ on your search term, you’ll get even more…


Next up is KW Finder

KW Finder #1 


KW Finder #2


Then there’s Ubersuggest (gotta say, I preferred the old version, which allowed you to create keyword word clouds, but hey)…

Ubersuggest #1


Ubersuggest #2


Last, but far from least, is the properly weird and properly wonderful AnswerThePublic...

AnswerThePublic #1

AnswerThePublic #2

AnswerThePublic #3

Because these results are all based on real searches by real people with real ‘becauses’ it’s easy to see how they can be used to write quality, relevant content for your web pages.

As an example of how this can be put into practice, keyword research I conducted for a couple of clients within the last few of weeks uncovered some very insightful long tail keywords that we used to develop content for FAQ pages for their new sites.

They also provided great inspiration for blog and social media content.

There are lots of other keyword tools out there; the ones I’ve chosen for this article are either free or ‘freemium’ and are quick, easy and intuitive to use. If you would like to suggest any others, please do – I’d love to hear from you.

If you need any help with keywords or how to use them, get in touch – I’d be happy to help.

Now, about that bike…

Damian DonnellyPrincipal at Ad_Man Creative Marketing Insight & Strategy is a marketing professional with over 25 years’ experience. During this time he has worked with everybody from senior government officials and marketing managers for international brands, to owners of start-ups and micro-businesses… and everybody in between.

He has delivered 1000s of hours of marketing, digital marketing and social media consultancy, training, coaching and mentoring to 100s of businesses and organisations across Ireland, both face-to-face and through seminars, workshops and keynote talks.



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