Search results pages are crowded these days, with everyone vying for a spot at the top. This means that if you want good placement for a simple, generic search term, you're going to face a lot of competition.
That's why, when conducting keyword research, it's important to target lengthy, highly-specific keywords — these are known as long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are usually well-thought-out queries in the form of questions, phrases, and sentences. They’re typically three or more words long. The term “long-tail” refers to the “long tail” of a search’s demand curve. As queries around a topic become more specific, the search volume decreases while the likelihood of conversion increases. This creates a skewed distribution, as illustrated below:
Long-tail keywords are especially valuable in retail because their high specificity indicates high purchase intent. Also, it's much easier to rank for long-tail keywords versus their more general counterparts, as long-tail keywords comprise 92% of all keywords typed into search engines.
Many marketers useGoogle Keyword Planner to get ideas, but this tool is limited in that it refers more directly to paid search data. There are plenty of other long-tail keyword tools that you can use for uncovering opportunities to rank in organic search.
In this post, we’ll recommend 11 of our favorite tools that you can use to uncover long-tail keyword opportunities for your content. But first, let’s review some strategies for finding these keywords — these are where SEO tools can be a major help.
How to Identify Long-Tail Keywords
There is a virtually infinite number of long-tail keyword you can try to target with your content. Of course, not all long-tail keywords are made equal — here are some proven strategies for finding the ones most relevant to your visitors and readers.
1. Examine autocomplete suggestions in Google directly.
A good starting point for collecting a pool of long-tail keywords is to simply enter a broad keyword into Google (or any search engine) and see what autocomplete suggestions appear.
You can also consult the “People also ask” section if Google provides one, then enter those queries into Google and see how they autocomplete.
Or, look at the related searches listed at the bottom of the page.
With this approach, you’ll see exactly what is popular on Google without any guesswork. However, it’s not the most practical method for researching long-tail variations, which is where keyword research tools can come in handy.
2. Use question modifiers like “what” and “how.”
More and more, Google users are entering their queries as questions. When brainstorming long-tail queries your target audience might ask, be sure to generate some that begin with modifiers like “what,” “how,” “where,” etc.
These words uncover specific issues that people have, and will probably appear often while reviewing long-tail keywords in your SEO tools of choice.
3. Add qualifiers to short-tail keywords.
Similarly, try adding qualifying terms to your keywords relevant to your business, product, and/or content. For example, if you sell umbrellas, append a combination of terms like “blue,” “large,” “heavy-duty,” or anything else you believe is relevant.
Try adding localization information as well, for instance, “large heavy-duty umbrellas Boston.” Specific, yes, but chances are potential visitors are sending queries like these to narrow their search to their geographic region, meaning a higher chance of conversion.
4. Look at your internal site search history.
If your website has an internal search function, check for what users are looking for. You might be surprised at some queries — they may target particular products or pose highly specific questions.
If visitors are posing these questions on your site, they might also be plugging them into search engines. So, use this valuable info to create new pages entirely dedicated to these specific long-tail keywords.
5. Research your competitors.
With help from Google search and SEO tools, you can peek at your competitors for which specific long-tail keywords they’re using to make the first SERP for more general queries. Take note of the keywords that appear frequently on top-ranking pages and see how you can incorporate them into your content while improving on editorial and visitor experience. Plus, you’ll gain exposure to keywords and ideas you might not have considered previously.
6. Run a gap analysis.
A gap analysis is the process of reviewing your site’s content for topics that you’re not currently covering or ranking highly for — this gives insight into which topic areas (and long-tail keywords) to target on your pages.
A gap analysis can be conducted by reviewing your existing articles for areas that could be touched on or improved. Additionally, many SEO tools allow you to audit your keyword rankings and see what keywords you’re ranking well or poorly for in comparison with your competitors.
Now that we’ve seen how marketers can utilize SEO tools to uncover long-tail keywords, let’s review the best options available today for this purpose.
HubSpot's SEO Marketing Software is an all-in-one SEO tool that can help plan your SEO strategy, optimize your website content, and measure your return on investment.
The content strategy tool makes it easy to discover keywords with suggestions based on relevance, competition, and popularity. What sets HubSpot's tool apart is a focus on content topic clusters, which search engines prefer. This tool also actively monitors your optimized content to ensure it's still relevant over time (helping you understand when changes need to be made).
AnswerThePublic is a top tool for long-tail keyword suggestions because it generates common questions asked about your seed keyword (the keyword you input initially) on social media, blogs, and forums.
It also offers comparison keywords, which can provide excellent opportunities to rank in relevant searches. Check the "versus" section of AnswerThePublic for your keyword and you'll be surprised by how many people do searches about X vs Y (e.g., Instagram vs Snapchat).
As comprehensive as the keyword suggestions are, one downside to AnswerThePublic is that it does not provide search volume data. Without this information, which you truly need to make informed decisions, the Pro version isn't quite worth the money compared to some other long-tail keyword tools on this list. However, it's still a useful resource for marketers.
Semrush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit, primarily known and used for its keyword research feature.
Semrush makes it easy to search for keywords and find their rankings in all the major search engines. Other useful features include keyword searching based on geographic location, as well as competitive intelligence around what keywords your competitors are targeting. These benefits are limited to paid subscription plans, but a free trial is available if you want to test it out before investing.
KWFinder is perfect for beginners but still valuable to more advanced bloggers. It offers a clean interface and a quick search feature that can generate hundreds of low-competition keywords relevant to your site. It also pairs each keyword with an SEO difficulty score, helping you to understand if it's realistic for your site to rank for a given term.
Since KWFinder is a paid tool, subscribers also benefit from advanced features such as SERP (search engine results page) analysis, rank tracking, and filtering results. You can test-drive these features when you sign up for a free trial.
Keep in mind that KWFinder is Google-SERP oriented, so use a different long-tail keyword tool if you need keywords optimized for other search engines.
Keyword Tool Dominator uses the autocomplete feature of different website searches to identify ideal long-tail keywords.
To help visualize how it works, start typing a search query into Google search and take note of the suggestions that appear. These suggestions are indexed by Keyword Tool Dominator, which the company leverages to provide up-to-date long-tail keyword ideas.
Besides offering suggestions for Google search, Keyword Tool Dominator can also provide insights to optimize for search on platforms such as Amazon, eBay, and YouTube.
While Keyword Tool Dominator is very basic, it's also completely free to use.
Sometimes keyword tools give nonsense results that are difficult for writers to use in their SEO content. Instead, Wordtracker focuses on delivering the most relevant keywords from Google, YouTube, and Amazon. Wordtracker is celebrated for its ability to provide organized data files that are easier to read and understand than the messy spreadsheets some other tools provide as an output option.
Wordtracker's "niche explorer" can help you to identify keywords that are trending in your industry, filtered by location and search engine. If the process of conducting keyword research is new to you, make sure to check out Wordtracker Academy — a wealth of information for SEO beginners.
You can access Wordtracker Academy, niche explorer, and up to 12 searches for free. If you want more searches and additional functionality, you can sign up for a free trial that leads to a paid subscription.
Once an independent keyword tool, Ubersuggest has been acquired by Neil Patel and since became notably more powerful. It now includes a domain overview that provides information regarding what's working for your competitors, backlink checking, and content suggestions with keyword searches.
Ubersuggest's keyword suggestions are based on Google SERPs and Google Ads data. The SERP analysis feature gives an overview of the top 100 sites that rank for a term, and the keyword overview shows search volume data over the last 12 months.
It's free to use Ubersuggest with limited results, but you can take advantage of a free trial to see if the advanced features included with the subscription price are worth it.
LongTailPro is an all-in-one SEO tool that has come a long way from the keyword-research desktop application it once was. It's especially useful for finding long-tail, high cost-per-click (CPC) keywords for your paid ad campaigns. It's ideal for taking one seed keyword, then finding every related series of long-tail keywords.
Some additional features of LongTailPro include, competitor keyword research, daily keyword tracking, a keyword-rich domain name finder, and a rank value that determines keyword profitability
This suite of unique features isn't free, but, like many other long-tail keyword tools on this list, LongTailPro offers a free trial to test out functionality.
SECockpit is often compared to LongTailPro because they offer similar features. To be more specific, both use Moz andGoogle Keyword Planner as main data sources and offer a keyword competitiveness rating and filtering option.
What sets SECockpit apart is that it's more geared toward SEO professionals (versus users optimizing for paid ad campaigns). With its keyword suggestions, you can choose to include synonyms from Google Ads, Google Suggest, Amazon Suggest, YouTube Suggest, and Google Related Searches. It displays these results alongside competitor data for comparison, and you can add additional parameters to get more relevant suggestions.
If you need to find the most popular keywords right now (or in the past), look no further than Google Trends.
With Google Trends, you can find out if interest in a particular keyword is growing or declining and stack two keywords up against each other to see how their popularity compares. You can also filter interest according to regions and subregions, which is useful when you're targeting a specific geographic area.
This is an incredibly simple (and, as a result, limited) tool from Google that is completely free to use.
The Best Long-Tail Keyword Tools
As ranking for search engine results become extremely competitive, long-tail keywords are your saving grace. In general, they are more specific than short-tail keywords, carry more purchase intent, and are often easier to rank for. So, amp up your content strategy with the help of these long-tail keyword tools.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Mar 23, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated April 23 2021