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13 Jun 2017

A Guide to Longtail Keywords

by Ben Harper 1

There’s a reason that paid search marketers get excited when you start talking to them about longtail keywords – they generally convert better, and cost less per click.

However, there are a number of challenges associated with longtail keywords that digital marketers need to overcome. These include:

  1. Finding enough longtail keywords to make your campaign really tick
  2. Balancing the use of longtail keywords, versus keeping your campaigns at a manageable size

With longtail keywords, the first rule of thumb is to make sure you’re exact matching these search terms – as the longer your keyword the more chance of irrelevant queries creeping in if you’re using broad or phrase matching. Your longtail keywords should be focussed on users showing really strong intent with their search, and as such you’ll have researched these keywords and know what they are – so you’ll have already taken the guesswork out of it – meaning that exact matching will be the best way to go.

Because your longtail keywords will be exact matching, they will have less competition than broader terms, and will have a higher clickthrough rate in theory (due to the intent), then you’re going to find that these are your most profitable keywords. So how do you find more?

The best place to look is in the ‘search terms’ report of your AdWords campaign. This area shows you the actual user queries that have led to clicks on your campaign. In here you can see which have converted and which look promising and you can add these straight into your campaigns from this view. Likewise, queries in here that are potentially showing as highly expensive and low performing can be added as a negative keyword.

Another great source of longtail keywords can be found in Google search console. If you download your search terms report, you’ll find what people are finding you for organically to an extent, which again will give you a rich set of data to use for planning your keywords.

Generally, longtail keywords are fairly obvious. They’re often a question, e.g. “How do I send money from the UK to France cheaply?”. As you can imagine, a keyword such as this will convert better and cost a lot less than a broader term such as “money transfer”, “international money transfer”, or “send money to France”.

With common sense keywords like the above it’s often a case of mapping out the queries users will be asking, and using a tool like MergeWords or good old Excel, to quickly put together all your queries. For example in the above money transfer example you’d list all your locations of sending money from and to, and then quickly generate a long list of long tail keywords by matching these locations to users questions.

The benefits of using longtail keywords are pretty clear, but a challenge a lot of marketers have is balancing their use against having an unwieldy campaign. Purists will argue that the more keywords the better, but I would always argue that it’s dependent upon your budget. There’s no point having 200,000 keywords active in a campaign with £200 of budget allocated to it a month for instance as the vast majority of the keywords aren’t going to even receive an impression before the budget is exhausted.

Bear in mind how much you can manage, how much exposure each keyword is going to get and how detailed you need to go when creating your campaigns and planning how many longtail keywords to use.

In summary, use longtail keywords as much as you can to drive down your costs in Google AdWords, and to reap the rewards of a campaign that converts at a higher level.


Ben Harper

Co-Founder at Datify