How to Find Long-Tail Keywords: 9 Ways to Discover Long-Tail Terms


Long Tail

Let this long-tailed tit be your guide! (Via BinaryApe)

We’ve been banging the drum about long-tail keywords for a long (ahem) time. Recently, I explained why it’s so hard to rank for competitive keyword phrases with a new website. The answer? Keep trying, and target more specific, less competitive long-tail keywords in the meantime. We also talked about whether you should target head terms or long-tail keywords in my Content Marketing FAQ. The answer? BOTH! As you’re building out your site content, your keyword taxonomy should naturally include both broad and narrow terms.

Hopefully by now, whatever the size, type, or age of your business, you understand that long-tail keywords should be a part of your SEO content strategy. The long-tail keywords you find could be used as the title and main topic for a highly targeted blog post or article (or video, or infographic, or any other type of content), or you could use them as variations to better optimize a longer guide or article targeting one primary keyword – for example, by using the long-tail keywords in your subheads and image file names. And if you're running niche marketing campaigns, super-specific long-tail keywords will be your best friend.

So where should you go to find those traffic- and lead-driving long-tail keywords? Here are nine tips to get you started.

1. Use Google Suggest

Google Suggestions are an awesome source of long-tail keyword variations. Just start typing your primary keyword into the Google search box and see what variations Google suggests:

Long Tail Keyword Ideas

If it turns up in a Google suggestion, you know that it’s a phrase people are searching for. These suggestions won’t necessarily inspire your faith in humanity (we all remember the “I am extremely terrified of Chinese people” debacle …), but they might inspire good content.

2. Use Google’s Related Searches

Same principle as the Google Suggestions that appear while you’re typing your query, but these suggested related searches appear at the bottom of the SERP, below the first page of organic results:

Related Long-Tail Terms

You may get slightly more suggestions here (in this case, eight keywords versus just four above), and they may also be slightly more personalized (Google knows I live in Colorado, hence the “Denver” and “Fort Collins” modifiers).

3. Use More and Different Keyword Research Tools

If you only use one keyword tool every time you do keyword research, you’re selling yourself short and probably missing out on tons of long-tail keyword variations. The Google Keyword Tool is a great basic tool and a good place to start, but if you’re looking for more long-tail keywords, try these other options too:

The more keyword tools you consult, the more long-tail keyword variations you’re likely to find.

4. Mine Your Analytics

Your analytics will tell you many, if not all, of the keyword phrases that lead visitors to your website. By digging through these keyword referrers, you’ll be able to find a bunch of long-tail queries that are driving traffic for you. These keywords may be relevant to your business but not yet highly targeted by a single page on your site. For example, a few years ago we found that a lot of people were searching on the phrase “what’s a good click through rate” to wind up at our site, but we didn’t have a page with that title, so we wrote one, and now it drives tons of traffic.

To find your own private store of long-tail keywords, go into your analytics and locate your organic keyword referrals (in Google Analytics, the path is Traffic Sources -> Sources -> Search -> Organic). You can simply scan all the terms for good, relevant long-tail keywords you can turn into content, or you can set the time frame to something pretty large (depending on your traffic flow, try a 3-, 6-, or 12-month period) so you’ll have a lot of data to look at, then search for patterns. For example, you might search for question keywords (i.e. terms that begin with “what,” “why,” etc.).

Google Analytics Long-Tail Research

5. Mine Your Search Query Reports

If you’re running a PPC campaign in AdWords, don’t forget to use your Search Query Report the same way you’d use your analytics, just one of many ways that PPC data can inform your SEO. Your Search Query Report shows you the search queries that drove people to click on your ads, rather than your organic search results. As an added bonus, you get fuller access to this data than you do your organic referrers in Google Analytics. It may also be easier to see which keywords are driving conversions, not just traffic. High-converting long-tail keywords are especially worth chasing.

6. Browse eHow

Sites like eHow are pretty much entirely fueled by keyword research, primarily long-tail keyword research. Demand Media, the company that owns eHow, and other sites, uses powerful algorithms to find long-tail keywords it can then rank for with hyper-targeted content.

You might not have Demand Media’s data sources or insanely profitable content algorithms on your side, but you can still learn from this methodology. Browse these sites for keyword ideas. If eHow is targeting a keyword phrase, you can bet it has search volume and that advertisers are interested in buying placement on those pages. Another good bet? Whatever they have produced to target those keywords is probably pretty lame. The content eHow churns out is produced on the cheap by freelancers and tends to be thin content, the kind of stuff that post-Panda Google no longer favors. If you can create strong content with real value that is also hyper-targeted, you have a good chance of outranking the content farms.

Post-Panda Keyword Research

7. Browse Q&A Sites

Like Demand Media properties, Q&A sites can be a good source of long-tail keyword ideas. I’m talking about sites like:

Questions make great long-tail keywords – it couldn’t be more obvious that these people are looking for answers and information.

long-tail question keywords

Of course you’ll want to do a little keyword research to find the version of each question that has the right search volume and competition level. Not every question you find on a Q&A site is going to be a worthwhile keyword to attack.

8. Browse Wikipedia

Is Wikipedia the most optimized site on the Internet? It’s definitely up there. You can learn a lot by copying Wikipedia’s on-page optimization. When doing research around a base term, try checking the Wikipedia page. For example, look at the table of contents (this for the “Quantum Mechanics” page):

Wikipedia long-tail keywords

A lot of these headings translate into long-tail keywords (“history of quantum mechanics,” “mathematical formulations of quantum mechanics,” “applications of quantum mechanics,” etc.). You can also do a page search (Control-F) on the page for your primary keyword and see what other variations appear throughout the text. In addition, the “See Also” section at the bottom of many Wikipedia articles can be helpful for finding clusters of related terms.

9. Steal From Competitors

For informational queries, Wikipedia is often your competitor. But always check out the competition when you’re chasing a keyword term. Start with head and mid-tail terms that you’re trying to rank for, and see what types of keyword variations are used on the pages that are ranking in the top 5-10 spots. For example, let’s say you’re chasing the keyword “holiday crafts.” Scope the page that ranks #1 for that keyword on Google and see what keywords it’s using (keywords everywhere!):

Competitive long-tail keywords

Share Your Long-Tail Keyword Research Tips

Have you discovered other sneaky ways to find long-tail keyword terms? Let us know in the comments!

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Andres Moreno
Nov 11, 2012

Elissa...Thanks for this GREAT post.Elissa, one questionDo you know if  Word Stream Free Keyword Tool works with Spanish Keywords?????Kind Regards

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 13, 2012

Thanks Andres -- you will find some Spanish keywords in our keyword tool but the volume is much lower than for English keywords. Sorry!

Andres Moreno
Nov 14, 2012

 Hi Gradiva...Reading the answer you gave on other comment, i found a great tool for me ubersuggest....i hope works for my jobs, i mean on Spanish Long tail KeywordsGod bless yoyu

Jun 15, 2015

I would suggest you to use Rankertracker for better keywords, seo and link analyser all within this.

Nick Stamoulis
Nov 12, 2012

Checking entrance keywords in analytics can give you great insights.  You may not be targeting a specific long tail keyword but it can still bring in traffic.  If it makes sense, you can use this long tail keyword to write blog posts and generate even more traffic. 

Nov 12, 2012

I use  ubersuggest  for long tail phrases.It supports a lot of languages , including mine (Serbian)

May 03, 2013

Ivan, really thanks for your tip.I work on page for a slovak company and ubersuggest works great. 

Nov 13, 2012

I've found that searching Twitter is also a viable option. I use Tweetdeck and make a columnbased on a couple keywords, such as ['drum set' AND '?'], then watch what questions people areasking about these keywords.

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 13, 2012

I love that idea! Thanks for sharing!

Nov 13, 2012

Checking your entrance keywords, and evaluating the nav summary may clue you in on their search intent behavior.Viewing the behavior can possibly decipher the long tail, obviously doesn't always work, but you're in the rightball park. BTW  Great Post!Cheers!

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 13, 2012


Peter H.
Oct 28, 2014

What about competition?  Is there a way to gauge your long tail keyword's competition without paying for a software.

yusri big
Oct 16, 2013

Long tail SEO has many benefits to offer to website owners. Whether we are running an online shop, a content driven website, a blog or our company’s website, long tail SEO can help us get more organic traffic and more targeted customers.  

Nov 11, 2013

now Long tail keywords is a way to get traffic from Google. But must be select with careful because not all keyword is suit

Dec 06, 2013

Nicely explained thanks.

Feb 15, 2014

Great post! And Nicely explained.Cheers  

Anchit Shethia
Aug 31, 2014

The nail has been hit. If you want to get organic traffic, Long Tail keywords are must. I use 3 tools the most, LTP, SEMrush and Google search suggestions. You will really succeed with Long tail keywords if optimised properly :) Thank you for few more tricks mate :)

Elisa Gabbert
Oct 29, 2014

Hi Peter, use the estimated cost per click in the Google Keyword Planner as an indicator of competition. Also check out "Larry's Formula" for assessing competitive opportunity in this post:

Paul Haarman
Nov 13, 2012

Great tips Elisa! You are right on the spot in explaining how to tap into the gold mine of long tail keywords. Thanks!

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 13, 2012

Thank you, Paul!

Vishal Taragi
Nov 14, 2012

Thanks Elisa, for these informational tips. before reading this post I used to look at google analytics for my site (including less than 10 visits I received from the keywords ).from now on I will have a look at wikipedia too...

Nov 15, 2012

Nice Article.To search keywords, you can use many suggest, related and synonymous is obvious than you have to cross data with local searches.

SEO Services
Nov 27, 2012

Pretty insightful post. Never thought that it was this simple after all. I had spent a good deal of my time looking for someone to explain this subject clearly and you’re the only one that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up.

Mona Sutherland
Nov 27, 2012

Great post!I feel for the other "foreign" language people (i.e. not English)... In the case of Spanish, I normally head over to the Google's KW tool and see what comes up (based on language and country). Then, I hope over to insights, suggest, related searches, etc., to see if I can extract additional information and/or insights into longer tail terms.I didn't find much with the YouTube KW tool, but the Twitter search is fantastic!!!Thanks for a great post Elisa!Regards,Mona

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 27, 2012

Thanks for the tips, Mona!

Srikaanth P.A
Jan 29, 2013

Thanks for the share Elisa.Very informative.

Mar 06, 2013

Word Tracker's Keywords Questions Tool is a good one to try. Depending on industry, you can find decent results.

Adgenius Canada
Aug 21, 2013

I gave a shot to SpyFu.Its awesome Keyword research tool.Give it a try and you will make your customers Happy.seo in torontoAdgenius

Sep 18, 2013

Heads up, it looks like Inc. ripped off your article with no atttribution:

Elisa Gabbert
Sep 18, 2013

Actually it is attributed (see fifth paragraph) -- this was "ripped off" with permission :)Thanks for being vigilant though!

Feb 22, 2015

I like your post and agree with the pints you have mentioned.Truely amazing

Jack Carpenter
Mar 22, 2015

Good article and very interesting. Given how competitive short tail keywords are, long tail have to be the way forward.

May 08, 2015

Useful info

May 23, 2015

Useful content

Aug 05, 2015

Woow, this article so amazing. This should be explained my clients question about increasing their web traffic.
Thank you.

Purushottam Kadam
Oct 02, 2015

i am searching for this query and found this helpful article to solve my problem

Long Le
Nov 04, 2015

If we're using Long Tail Keywords for our AdWords campaign, which Match Type should we use? I would think Exact would be ideal, but wouldn't traffic be really really really low?

Sep 03, 2016

I used to have similar problems too, but after using
"long path tool" You can use to solve this problem.

Jegadeesh Vontlin
Dec 19, 2016

Finally got some good ideas for finding keywords from Wikipedia, Q&A, steal from competition

Don Tyler
Feb 06, 2017

Thanks for the headsup. But does steps working for football related websites.

Feb 26, 2017

Thanks.. this post is very useful for new bloggers..

john chan
Apr 01, 2017

thanks so much for the reviews
helped my amazon website a lot!!

May 01, 2017

thanks for the better help I am using some of the methods of my website but visitor is very low how can increase more

Jun 26, 2017

Thanks for sharing such useful information. I'm starting out as a freelance blogger/ghostwriter and it really helps to understand more advanced approaches to SEO.

Nov 26, 2017

Good article
I have implemented most of the ideas here but my question is how can you identify what your users are searching when you get different keyword insight from from keyword research tools including google suggestion.

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