How Long Tail Keywords Increase Your Search Traffic

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

When it comes to eCommerce, there are the major players like Walmart and Amazon, and then there are the rest of us. The reality for most online retailers is that ranking for broad, “head terms” like “cookies” or “chairs” is nearly impossible as the Goliaths of the web cast their shadow over the first two pages of results. However, penetrating the top pages of search results is entirely possible.

Long tail keywords like “healthy organic chocolate chip cookie recipes” and “white wicker rocking chairs for sale” are substantially easier to rank. What’s more, the majority of the Internet is searching using long tail terms, as the overwhelming majority of queries are at least three words.
When contemplating which long tail keywords to optimize for eCommerce, reflect upon the following aspects.


Long tail searches historically have higher conversion rates for two reasons:

1) SEO professionals are able to reach audiences that know specifically what they want, rather than Internet users that are in the “discovery” phase of the buying process. After all, someone who is typing into their search box “sterling silver ring with turquoise stone” has a much clearer idea of what (s)he wants to buy, rather than someone who is simply on the hunt for “rings.”

2) Retailers are able to better understand and address the searchers’ needs. One of the many downsides of “head terms” is that a simple word or two can be used to describe multiple scenarios that may not apply specifically to your website’s content. For example, the term “classical guitar” could be used to search for the history of the genre, the purchasing of the instrument, the ability to listen to songs online, etc. However, if someone is searching for “Baroque classical guitar CDs,” there is little doubt about what (s)he is looking for.

Therefore, when it comes to turning your targeted head terms into long tail variations, reflect upon what narrowing aspects people may be specifically looking for. For instance, buyers could be interested in facets like “cheap,” “luxury,” “free shipping,” “extra-small,” “hot pink,” etc.

Meeting Visitors’ Needs

Search engines are a vehicle through which potential customers can reach your eCommerce services, but all efforts are voided if the visitors to your website are displeased with what they find. In fact, this can raise your “bounce rate” and signal to Google that your domain is not meeting the needs of users. Therefore, it is important that the keywords you are optimizing for align with the nature of your page’s content and/or products. Therefore, consider the following when pinpointing which keywords to target:

1) Is your page educational or transactional? You can leverage certain expressions that searchers commonly use to signify their intention, ensuring that the right kind of traffic comes to your page.

Examples of educational search phrases:
* Reviews of vegetarian restaurants in Miami
* How to get rid of a headache
* Distance between Los Angeles and San Diego
* Christmas light inspiration

Examples of transactional search phrases:
* Discount hockey equipment
* Extra-large running shoes for women
* Los Angeles train ticket
* Order Christmas lighting

The best way to check whether the contents of the targeted landing page correlates with the searchers’ needs is to simply search for the term in question: if your results align with the other search results, your instincts are correct; if not, reconsider your choice and head back to the drawing board!

2) Do you have the information and/or inventory to satisfy? Let’s pretend that you are selling dresses for children ages five and up, and a searcher is organically directed to your page for the term “toddler communion gowns.” If you don’t have the products readily available to satisfy this specific necessity, the visit will not convert. Therefore, simply put, only target terms that you are prepared to address.

3) Pick the right landing page. Building upon the scenario above, let’s assume that you’ve built your website to include communion gowns for toddlers. Now equipped with the products to meet such searchers’ wants, you would want to make sure that the appropriate landing page is the one that is optimized for the correct term. Though it may be tempting to try to have the domain’s homepage be the top ranking url for the term, very few visitors to your website will have the patience to dig about your category pages to find the right one for their needs. Therefore, do your best to direct organic traffic straight to page that has the targeted information or goods.

Search Demand

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

No matter how much thought goes into a keyword, it is arguably useless if no one is searching for related phrases in the first place. Therefore, the key is to balance specificity with search volume to find the ideal long tail keyword for your eCommerce store. How do you do this?

1) Take into consideration the lingo that your public is using. For example, if you are providing highly specialized health services, you may want to forego the extravagant medical vernacular in favor of terminology that broader audiences are aware of; “endodontics” vs. “root canal surgery.”

2) Use free or affordable tools to determine search volume. Ones that Trinity Insight commonly utilizes are Google Adwords and SEM Rush.

3) Be forward thinking. There may be times that you may be privy to information that the public has not been actively made aware of yet. This could be an upcoming trend, the renaming of a brand, a distant event, etc. In such circumstances, don’t let current lack of searches automatically deter you from optimizing for related terms. As publicity grows, related search volume will follow suit. To keep your finger on the pulse of what subjects the Internet is increasingly abuzz about (and what is waning in popularity), refer to Google Trends.


One of the main reasons to optimize for long tail keywords is to rank for less competitive terms. How level the playing field is dependent upon the players, so do basic research by Googling the targeted key phrase. Consider whether or not you could realistically “dethrone” the current domains that rank; after all, the point is to convince search engines that your landing page is a more relevant, quality search result for the targeted term than what is currently chosen for the first two pages. Therefore, if the SERP is dominated by Fortune 500 companies, the term could be considered “highly competitive.”

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