What Are Long Tail Keywords? | Longtail Dragon


By Longtail Dragon


Longtail keywords are low-competition search terms that are easier to rank for in search engines like Google than broader “head terms.”


Longtail keywords are generally variants of head terms.

They might have geomarkers in them (“nail salon near me” or “karate dojo minneapolis”).

They might be questions related to the head term (“psychological safety definition” or “does weight lifting reduce body fat?”).

They might be niche subtopics of the head term (“citrus derived cbd oil” or “addiction treatment center that does mental health counseling”).

When we do keyword research for our clients, we start by identifying the head terms, which will probably be the generic terms for their products or services. From there, we use proprietary tools to identify longtail variations.

Suppose you’re doing keyword research yourself and don’t have access to our technology. In that case, a good workaround is to Google your head term and look for the “people also ask” or the “searches relating to” boxes.


Let’s say you’re a personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, and you’re trying to improve your search rankings for your car accident practice area.

Some head keywords might include “car accident lawyer,” “car accident attorney,” and “car accident law firm.” Each of those terms is queried thousands or tens of thousands of times a month in Google. But they’re tough to rank for because you’re competing with all the other attorneys who do car accident law.

So instead, you target longtail keywords that include geomarkers, questions, and niche subtopics. You might identify some of the following keywords:


Longtail keywords are about keyword difficulty, not the number of words.

A common misnomer is that longtail keywords are called “longtail” because they contain more words in the search query. Longtail keywords indeed tend to have more words, but that’s not why they’re called longtail.

The term actually comes from a statistical curve that plots the search volume against the number of keywords:

long tail keyword curve

Source: WordTracker

The graph’s far right consists of the long “tail,” where the lowest competition keywords live. The fact that those keyword phrases also tend to be longer than the head terms is irrelevant.

In other words, the question is not “how many words” does a longtail keyword need, but rather “how easy to rank for” does a longtail keyword need to be?


If you’re a very astute observer, you may have noticed that almost all search volume is concentrated over on the left side of the graph. Way more people are searching for head terms than their longtail variants!

So why even bother trying to rank for those tiny longtail keywords?

Head terms are high-volume, but they’re also high competition. In a competitive space, you may be investing for months or even years before you show up on the first page of Google (and nobody goes to the second page).

A longtail keyword may only contribute a little bit of website traffic, but you can capture that little bit much faster! That means a lower cost-per-acquisition.

Additionally, you may be able to rank for many closely-related longtail keywords if you optimize your site effectively. Even if each individual keyword contributes less traffic, that traffic adds up as you accumulate more and more first-page rankings.

For small and medium-sized businesses with shoestring marketing budgets, you want to lean into this longtail keyword strategy hard, especially when you’re starting out.

Once your longtail strategy is generating enough revenue, you can think about trying to elbow your way onto the more competitive SERPs.


If you’re interested in learning how to start finding and ranking for longtail keywords, schedule a free consultation and we can answer your questions.

Alternatively, leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it ASAP.

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