First off, what the heck are long-tail keywords? They’re a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that can make it easier for people to find your posts using search engines. Even if you don’t know and don’t particularly care what SEO is, thinking about your blog post titles in terms of long-tail keywords can still be helpful.
Well, let’s start with what keywords are. They’re the terms that you think people will use in search engines to find an article about your topic. There are SEO strategies to optimize the keywords that you’d like people to be able to find your blog post with, but I won’t go into that here. Personally, I don’t worry about how I use keywords in my posts, because I’m going to write my own way.
As an example of one way that people might search for content on the internet, let’s consider a post I wrote quite a while back that I (rather boringly) titled Aromatherapy and Mental Health. If someone searches for “aromatherapy mental health” in Google (which would be considered the keywords that they’re searching for) they’re going to get almost 10 million results. No matter how brilliant I make my post, no one’s going to find it amidst those 10 million results, because someone would have to click through to approximately page 987,654 of the search results to see my post.
But people don’t always search Google that way. Sometimes we get a lot more specific, and instead of searching for a couple of words, we enter a whole sentence, sometimes in question form (e.g. “Why does WordPress keep sending legitimate comments to spam?”). That’s where long-tail keywords come in.
Let’s say that instead of searching for “aromatherapy mental health”, I search “does ylang ylang help with depression?” Now we’re down to a million results, but if I put the entire search term in quotes so that I’m searching for that exact phrase, there are zero hits. That means I’m not competing with other people on the internet when it comes to displaying that specific phrase.
If I make the title of my post “Does ylang ylang help with depression?”, that entire phrase becomes my long-tail keyword. If someone searches for that particular phrase, my post is going to be one of the first things that Google shoves in front of their eyeballs, which makes the chances fairly good that someone is going to end up making their way to your post.
Obviously, people aren’t going to be asking that particular question all the time, but when they do ask it, they’re likely to end up clicking through to your post. And you’re still going to do better than if your post title is “Aromatherapy for Mental Health” and there is no chance of anyone ever finding your post via a search engine.
How long-tail keywords can help your blog
I only recently started paying attention to this, so it’s hard to say for sure how big a difference it makes. I do know, however, that one of my posts that gets the most search engine traffic is Why I hate the 1-10 mood rating scale. There’s nothing the least bit special about that post, and for the longest time, it puzzled me why it was getting so much traffic.
Then finally I realized – it’s because “1-10 mood rating scale” is a superstar long-tail keyword phrase. It’s specific enough that there isn’t a lot of competition; Google only displays 23 results if you search for that phrase in quotation marks. Yet there seem to be quite a few people searching for that phrase, and they’re ending up at my blog.
So, how do you implement this on your blog? You can be fancy and do research and spend a lot of time on it, although for the vast majority of bloggers I think that would be a rather large waste of time. Instead, when coming up with post titles, ask yourself what phrase/question you might enter into Google to find a post just like yours.
After all, why bother trying to be fancy when the audience you’re trying to attract to your blog via search engines is people just like you?