We have seen that eCommerce marketers tend to chase keywords with a high search volume. As a result, everyone in a given space is hunting for the same keywords that get search traffic. Does that sound familiar?
These higher volume keywords can get good, sometimes great results…if you can beat the competition. Often, however, you end up running out of high volume keywords to target that you can actually rank for.
We’ve noticed an interesting pattern, though. Sometimes there are low volume keywords that do get clicks.
For example, take a look at one of our eCommerce clients in the moving company niche. They are getting clicks on “0” volume keywords:
1724 clicks on an ELEVEN-word keyword! (And another 559 clicks on a separate six-word term.)
Trying to outrank your competitors can get tiring, quickly. So, why not change the game to one you can win by going after less competitive keywords that people are searching for?
In our experience doing SEO for a variety of eCommerce stores, we’ve often noticed our clients bringing in traffic and revenue from these terms.
Long tail searches for eCommerce are often less broad and more targeted to the people at the bottom of the marketing and sales funnel. They convert well as a result.
We recommend that companies do some research to see if they can cash in on long tail keywords. Below, we’ll tell you how to do it.
Note: If you want us to improve the SEO for your eCommerce store, we’d love to help you to target these keywords as part of a strategy to increase organic traffic and sales from search engines. Get in touch.
What are long tail keywords, and why do eCommerce marketers ignore them?
Long tail keywords are typically 3-4 words (sometimes more). They are typically very specific to a product a company is selling, like “Honeywell Wifi Thermostat RTH6580WF.” Or they will be a question the customer has, such as “control thermostat with smartphone.”
Short tail keywords, as you might guess, are one word, sometimes two. Like: “thermostat” or “wifi thermostats.”
As you can see in the graphic, long tail keywords are named because they make up the long tail end of traffic (there are many of them and they don’t get as many searches).
eCommerce marketers with less experience will overlook or write off long tail keywords because they see the low or non-existent estimated monthly search volume as a sign that it won’t bring in traffic. As should be clear by this point, that is a mistake.
Long tail search queries convert well because they are down the funnel compared to head terms. Somebody searching for “wifi thermostat” may be shopping around and comparing models while someone searching for a specific brand or model is WAY closer to making a buying decision. It’s all about the search intent behind them.
About eCommerce Search Intent
In order for long tail or short tail keywords to convert, it’s important to look at intent.
We’ve noticed that companies doing SEO for eCommerce will sometimes pick keywords without considering what led someone to type in that phrase, and what they are actually looking for.
A simple way to check search intent for a keyword: Type the keyword into Google and look at the first page of results. This shows you what people are actually clicking on because it matches their intent.
For example, you might think that someone with the intent to buy would type a keyword like “vegan makeup.”
Yet, a bunch of articles from 3rd parties like magazines and the PETA listing vegan makeup brands are what come up. Not eCommerce stores with individual products:
Google is always learning from what people type in and what they engage with. The results they push on the first page for a given keyword are generally a good indicator of what people want to get when they type it that keyword or phrase. So for a short tail term like “vegan makeup,” people are researching what’s out there but aren’t looking to buy any makeup just yet.
Long tail keywords, on the other hand, do tend to have high intent. Especially if they contain a branded phrase. For example, “tarte maneater mascara” brings up available stores where you can buy the brand’s product:
Long tail keywords are important for ranking product and category pages, for the same reason we’ve been talking about: those pages are near impossible to rank for competitive short tail terms.
The bottom line: You can have less competition, a lower cost, and a better conversion rate when you keep search intent in mind.
Our Process to Find Good Long Tail Keywords for eCommerce
Our typical keyword research process for long tail keywords consists of several steps:
- Look at the client’s site in Google Search Console.
- Sort by clicks to find the most relevant terms that are ranking for the website.
- Are there any keywords without volume getting clicks? (If we identify a longtail keyword opportunity we will typically optimize existing pages for them, or create content targeting the keyword if our client’s site doesn’t rank for it yet.)
- We then do some additional research in a keyword tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush. (We sometimes find other keywords to target through those tools.)
- We’ll sort by search volume, then start plugging keywords into a spreadsheet to match them up to the page that ranks for those terms.
- Then, we check each term manually in search results to make sure it matches the intent. (We don’t want to optimize a product page for a keyword when people are looking for blog posts, and vice versa).
- Usually (but not always), we find long tail terms in the top 6 keywords for that page and will optimize for them.
Another thing we like to do is set up keyword alerts in Ahrefs to monitor for new long tail terms we should incorporate. Each week, Ahrefs sends us an email of the keywords our client’s site is ranking for that jumped into the top 20 (or 40-60) of results — and we can optimize further to get in the top 10 results.
Over time, a page will rank for additional long tail keywords as the keyword research tool indexes it. If we think one of those keywords can convert well, we make a recommendation to our clients to optimize for that phrase.
Additional Ways to Find Long Tail Keywords
There are plenty of tutorials for finding keywords and implementing them (our eCommerce Copywriting Guide is an excellent primer). So, rather than go in depth we’ll list some other methods for finding them.
- Google Keyword Planner shows which long tail keywords have commercial value, but we typically find fewer of them.
- Google Suggested Search and “People Also Ask”, on the other hand, is an easy and quick way to get some additional long tail ideas. Just start typing and look at the autocomplete options:
Or type in your keyword and look at the questions people are asking (these questions are long tail terms):
Sometimes, an article on your site answering the question can fill the “People Also Ask” box.
- Google Ads Search Term Report will show you which ads were triggered by actual searches. Sometimes you will see that somebody typed in a relevant long tail keyword you didn’t think of and your ad came up for it!
- Keyword Research Tools: Ubersuggest, Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs all have huge keyword databases. Type in a head term (short tail keyword) and swipe long tail keywords from the related terms that these tools show you. Even if you see <10 searches a month for a long tail phrase, you will get at least a couple of clicks. Rank for enough of these phrases and you can get a significant amount of traffic.
- Answer the Public is another good tool. With this one, you put in a head term and see a good list of questions that people are asking about it in search engines:
- Last but not least, Amazon is a great source of long tail keywords for eCommerce.
If you are listing products on Amazon, you can use their search term report to see which phrases people typed in to get to your product page. Then, you can add those keywords to your Amazon listing AND the product page on your own website. Chances are, people are typing those same shopping-related phrases into Google.
Plus, just like Google, Amazon will give you suggested search suggestions when you start typing. Pair your suggested searches in Google, Amazon, and elsewhere with a tool like Keywords Everywhere to see quick stats about the terms:
How We Implement Long Tail Keywords for Conversions
Now you know how we find long tail keywords for eCommerce. To make them work for your online store, you need to make the right pages relevant for them.
Here’s our basic process for implementing long tail terms that we’ve targeted:
- Once we have a long tail keyword to target in mind, we take a look at the page we’re optimizing to see what else it is ranking for, and what products it converts for so that we can tailor our optimization to that.
- Then we optimize the page including ‘H1’, Title, and meta tags, body copy, and images. If we are optimizing a page for a head term, the long tail keyword will be included secondarily to help the page rank for both the short and long tail phrases.
- Depending on the page type, we may add more content to the page to make it relevant for the long tail keyword. This works better on product pages rather than category pages in your catalog. Too much content on a category page pushes the product grid down further down the page and that added scrolling space can hurt conversions.
- To increase relevance for the long tail phrase even further, we’ll search for blog posts to internally link to from the product or category page and use the long tail keyword as the anchor text.
- If we aren’t adding content to an existing page, we will create a new page or update one to optimize it. When updating content, we look for pages that performed well in the past based on their former rankings or sessions from visitors but have since dropped off.
For these, we’ll try to reoptimize the page by:
- Sprinkling long tail keywords into the copy
- Adding new sections to the page that weren’t there using the long tail term as an ‘H2’
- Refreshing the page by adding more useful content for visitors
What might this look like in practice?
We have a client with an eCommerce store in the freeze dried food niche. In our research, we discovered that their product page for freeze-dried ice cream was ranking for adjacent phrases like “space ice cream” or “astronaut ice cream.”
Rather than simply sprinkle those words onto the product page, we created new ‘H2’ headings on it for those long tail keywords to really target them. Their rankings for “space ice cream” and “astronaut ice cream” increased as a result.
Now they are targeting and ranking for three separate terms that their customers used in Google when looking for freeze-dried ice cream rather than just the one.
Important: If you’re running PPC ads, use the longtails for that too! Google ads are there so that you can pay to beat the organic rankings. So, we recommend you target longtails in both SEO and PPC.
Business growth doesn’t tend to happen overnight. It’s the result of small pieces of value adding up over time. This same mindset is useful when thinking about what keywords to target.
Ranking for more long tail keywords than your competition is a tried and true strategy for increasing the value of your eCommerce store. The extra traffic from each longtail keyword you rank for can really add up.
Keep in mind that inbound marketing for eCommerce relies on the pain points (or simply the needs) of your customers.
Start by taking an inventory of all the products, questions, and objections that potential customers have about what you sell. Are there certain questions they have to ask before they buy a product? Is there something else in their head that is preventing them from making a purchase?
Take all of those answers you have for your customers and put them on your website. Now, because you’ve put the content there, they’ll be more likely to:
- Find the right product
- Get the answer to their questions
- Trust your store to make the purchase
This might sound simple, but it’s the core of why SEO works, and it’s why long tail keywords lead to conversions.
Note: We do this type of work for our clients day-in and day-out. If you want us to increase your traffic and sales by implementing our winning SEO strategies, please contact us.