Long Tail Keywords: Getting Traffic From Unpopular Queries

Don’t you think that it’s time to reconsider your attitude towards the long tail keywords? Great, because in this article we will also show you another way of researching them.

The Content Brief Template resource cover

The Content Brief Template

The Content Brief template outlines all of the key information needed to help anyone writing your content, understand...

What do regular blog posts covering some subject start from?

From the definition, of course! And we’re not going to break set traditions so let’s get into it.

Here is what Google says about long tail keywords:

But you know what? The definition stating that long tail keywords are three and four phrases is currently outdated.

What are long tail keywords?

Advanced SEOs think of the long tail keywords as of the search queries with very low individual search volume, but a huge total search demand as a group. Their name derives from the “long tail” of the so-called “search demand curve”, which is a graph that plots all keywords by their search volumes.

This is not necessary, but oftentimes these keywords tend to be longer and more specific than more commonly searched for keywords.

What actually makes a keyword long tail?

In any case, it’s not the number of words. It’s search volume and specificity that go hand in hand.

The point is that the more specific you get with a search phrase, the less volume there is likely to be.

Chances are that your long tail keywords will have second to none existing search volume. Did you know that around 16–20% of daily Google searches are for completely new phrases, which means they have never been searched for before.

You might think that targeting for long tail keywords is a waste of time. But this is a great fallacy. While individual volumes are low, long tail keywords make up nearly 40% of all search traffic on the web.

What does that mean? Even though individual volume is low, the fact there is an infinite number of phrase combinations makes the collective volume high.

Because of their specific nature, long tail keywords can be great for conversions.

Now we are sure you would like to know how to rank for hundreds of long tail keywords. Read on and we will describe you the whole process.

How to rank for hundreds of long tail keywords easily

Let’s be straightforward: you’d better focus on optimizing your content for topics instead of targeting the individual long-tails.

Why do I advise you to follow this practice?

The answer is simple – Google is already clever enough to group individual long tail keywords into topics and subtopics.

Nowadays, ranking for multiple long-tails has become a by-product of creating top-quality content that deeply covers the topic.

The great news is that the days when you needed to worry about including every long tail you want to rank for on-page are gone.

Please note that even though individually those long-tails have poor volume when added up all together, you can get some considerable traffic boost.

Reach better effect combining in-depth content with link building

The practice also shows that it’s not enough to just create great content. The magic happens when you combine your great content with strategic promotion and proactive link building.

BTW, our study of 2 million keywords also found that backlinks are still the single biggest SEO ranking factor:


In other words, when you’ve created awesome content covering a topic, you still have to build links if you want to rank high in SERPs.

Herein under I will tell you how to create valuable content that will rank for multiple long tail keywords enhanced by the right promotion.

Competitor research

If you are using Ahrefs, the ‘Top pages’ report in Ahrefs Site Explorer may become the trump card in long tail keyword research.

Guess what will it show you? Your competitors’ pages that are already ranking for hundreds if not thousands of long tail keywords.

I’ll describe you the process if you have nothing against it.

  1. The first step is to find your competitor’s top content in the organic search

Let’s take a look at the ‘Top pages’ report for the canny-creative blog.

Site Explorer > Enter domain > Explore > Organic keywords > Top pages

Let me explain the highlighted metrics:

  • Traffic is the total organic search traffic for the page
  • Keywords are the number of individual keywords for which the page is ranking
  • Top keyword is the individual keyword which brings the most organic traffic to the page. This is likely to be the ‘topic’
  • Its volume is the total monthly search volume for the top keyword
  • Pos is the position the page ranks in for its top keyword

If you need to view the individual keywords a page is ranking for, click the arrow next to the number under the ‘Keywords’ column.

Well, it seems like the blog is ranking for plenty of interesting keywords under the topic ‘how much does logo design cost’.

2. The second step is to export the keywords for analysis

Would you like to view all keywords? Then export the report into a CSV file and open the spreadsheet in OpenOffice.

3. The third step is to filter and group keywords into subtopics

I’m sure that you are not interested in cramming hundreds of these keywords into your content if you value your time and don’t want to waste it.

What you want to do is group all of them into subtopics or headers instead, don’t you? This is a manual process. You will need to run through the spreadsheet and filter out everything similar. It won’t take you too long, about 10 minutes, and you will narrow down your original keywords list of hundreds words to the two-digit number including keyword groups.

But do you still remember that you can rank for hundreds of keywords?

Let me explain that.

4. The fourth step is to outline a new post with the help of grouped keywords as headers

What you need to do now is create a new Google doc and a post outline. Use your grouped keywords as headers (H2) and subheaders (H3).

These are the main subtopics that Google associates with the parent topic ‘how much does logo design cost’.

So by covering them all, you will be able to rank for all the variations you found when exported the full list of keywords. Those variations are long tail keywords.

5. The fifth step is to write an awesome blog post

The keyword research process described above made it simple for you to outline the future blog post and make up keyword targeted subheadings.

Just think about it: you can rank for hundreds of long tail keywords without even thinking about them.

However, you should understand that a list of subheadings isn’t going to rank anywhere. You need to cover each section deeply if you want to create a really rank-worthy article.

After finishing that, you can move to the final step.

6. It’s time to get your post rank

What do you need to do to get your topic rank? Promote it and build links to it, it’s obvious unless the topic you are targeting has very little competition.

If you need to refresh the link building techniques in your memory, take a look at this link building guide. It will tell you everything you need to know.

But I am sure you want to know at least one more thing. Would you like me to show you how to figure out the number of links you’ll need to rank in the top spots?

Start by entering the main keyword ‘how much does logo design cost’ into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Keywords Explorer > Enter keyword > Explore

This actions will take us to an overview page for the keyword.

There you will see that the keyword has a difficulty score of 21. This means the blog will need to build links from nearly 23 sites to rank on page 1.

Getting on the Google’s page 1 is certainly a good start. But if you are ambitious enough you surely want to burst into the top 3 results, don’t you?

Do you know how many links would we need for that? We can find that out scrolling down to the ‘SERP overview’ report.

This report shows us a preview of Google’s top 10 results for the keyword. It will display the number of backlinks and referring domains for each page as well.

What do we see? The page at position 1 has acquired links from 32 unique domains. There are also a couple of pages with links from 40+ domains.

It looks like the blog needs to pick up links from around 40 different sites to rank in the top 3 positions.

Nobody says that it’s a piece of cake, however, the number can hardly be called unattainable.

Is there any point in specifying long tail keywords?

Absolutely! For one thing, they great for building brand awareness. But so is working with an agency that provides branding services.


I won’t deny that there’s a huge benefit in optimising your content for head keywords and topics, rather than worrying about individual long tails. Your endeavours will pay off a hundredfold.

But this SEO aspect has an exception, just like any other. In some particular cases, you might want to create content specifically targeted for a long tail keyword.

The motivation is quite understandable. Everything rotates around traffic and revenue.

You know, some long tail keywords are too precious to ignore.

Would you like me to cite an example? Ok, please take a look at the following long tail keyword:

With a US search volume that is not available and a total traffic potential of 20, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth paying attention to.

But that’s only until you discover what someone searching that phrase is actually looking for:

Yea, that is $15.1 million pair of shoes by Debbie Wingham, one of the most expensive designers in the world right now.

I am sure you’d be quite happy with selling at least one of them in several months.

I know that the example may seem pretty much exaggerated, but I chose it to make the point clearly understandable.

The takeaway is that if a particular keyword is utterly important for your business in terms of revenue, then don’t mind the poor search volume, make sure to rank at #1.

That will sooner mean creating content which specifically targets that long tail keyword, then building links to it.

In all other cases go for topics over keywords.

Over To You

Are you happy that the days of exhaustive long tail keyword research are over? Did you switch to optimising your content for topics?

Maybe you have another opinion? Do you still specifically optimise content for multiple long tails considering the job a key part of SEO?

Let me know about that in the comments. Sure enough that if you have any questions about the takeaways or processes above, you may feel free to shoot them the same way.


Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

Read here