Take a look at your list of keywords and separate them into three categories – single words, short phrases and long tail keywords. Now, if you have three columns with each type of keyword inside, then you’re off to a good start. Otherwise, if you haven’t got three columns or don’t understand what on earth the opening sentence is talking about then you definitely need to pay attention.

We’re talking long tail keywords here and – if this is one of those things you’ve been putting off, or didn’t consider important – then today is the day to give your keyword list a much needed revamp.

What are long tail keywords?
Long tail keywords are entire phrases, sentences or even questions people might tap into Google when they search. For example, instead of typing the word “shoes” into a search engine, a user is more likely to ask something like “where can I find the cheapest Nike Air Max in London?”

And why is this so important?
Well, this is important for a number of reasons – but it all comes down to the fact that the top 10,000 keywords make up less than 20% of all searches made on the web. Meanwhile short phrases make up just over 10%, which means a whopping 70% of all searches use long tail keywords, like the example we looked at above.

This puts a completely different spin on how you research, choose and optimise your keyword strategy (or at least it should!).

Demand, competition and relevance
So users are all about the long tail keywords, but it’s not only about supplying user demand – there are a number reasons you should love long tails as well. First of all, they’re less competitive, which not only makes it easier to rank for them, but also much cheaper when it comes to PPC campaigns.

Then there’s the question of relevance and this is where long tail keywords can help you boost your conversion rate. Let’s go back to our original example: “shoes” vs “where can I find the cheapest Nike Air Max in London?”
Content that ranks for “shoes” could be relevant to anyone casually browsing the web, researching fashion trends or even a kid who wants to learn how to tie their laces. While someone typing “where can I find the cheapest Nike Air Max in London?” is all but ready to pay up for a good deal on Nike Air Max in the capital – done deal.

How to find long tail keywords
There are a number of ways to drum up ideas for your long tail keyword list and Google offers a number of tools to get your started. You can simply use the search bar at Google.co.uk, start typing in keywords and see what suggestions the search engine throws back at you.

Or you can delve into AdWords and check your search query report, use the keyword tool and check the organic phrases you already rank for. Plus you have a wealth of free keyword tools from reputable names like WordStream and KeywordEye to bolster your list with.

Finally, one of the best places to start is by running your competitors’ URLs through the Google Keyword Tool, so you can see which long tail keywords they rank for. And if you’re a local business, then you need to think like a local user and inject location into your long tail keyword strategy.