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I know my title is long and ridiculous, but it does help emphasize what long tail is all about. “Long tail” keywords are a string of three or more words that make up a phrase. The concept of long tail is pretty simple: Tap into the large amounts of search traffic using longer keyword phrases. Like traditional (one or two word) short tail keywords, long tail keywords define what is on the web page and what the website wants to be located under in search engines and on SERPs.

Search engine algorithms’ are getting more and more complex. When a website gets crawled by search engines, they are taking into account the keywords and phrases found in the indexable text of the web site. All indexable words on the page factor into which keywords and phrases the page ranks for. Of course, the frequency and placement of consecutive words are the biggest factors into which keywords and phrases rank the best.

Because of this fact, long tail keywords serve a dual purpose. They can refine search terms to a web page, as well as assist a searcher in locating something very specific. For example: if a consumer is looking to purchase “pink furry strawberry slippers” it makes more sense to search on the entire phrase than to put in “furry slippers,” “furry strawberries,” or “strawberry slippers” and attempt to filter through irrelevent search results.

Another big difference between short and long tail keyword phrases are the search results. If you were to search the keyword “counseling” in Google, you will receive 55,200,000 results. Then, if you look up the short tail keyword phrase “counseling jobs” in Google, it returns 10,900,000 results. Finally, if you enter the long tail keyword phrase “drug counseling jobs” in Google, it provides 323,000 results. Although the long tail keyword phrase is searched less than the shorter keyword phrases, there is much less SERP competition.

Using long tail keywords to corner a smaller market has just as much potential, if not more, than using short tail keywords in a larger, more exposed market. Some sites may discover that the long tail isn’t quite as rich in their market, while other sites will do far better by targeting the long tail. Either way, using long tail keywords where you can, will definitely give you the advantage over your competitors.