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Understanding Search Intent and Longtail Keywords for SEO

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Welcome to our latest blog. SEO. Understanding Search Intent and Longtail Keywords for SEO. For many, this is a subject that is completely out of their skill set. Yet SEO can be one of the main factors of a successful online business. 

We joined forces with Sarah Tamzin. Who taps into her extensive knowledge to bring you a bit of insight.

Sarah Tamsin

Sarah Tamsin

Freelance Digital Consultant & Content Creator

If you’ve researched anything to do with SEO, you’ll know that keywords are an important thing that you should be paying attending to.  But, without a strategy, choosing the right keywords for your website is pure guesswork!

Keywords have always been an important part of any SEO strategy, but which keywords should you choose? Where do you put them? How do you compete with other websites?

Before we delve into the complexities of long tail keywords, let’s explore keywords more generally first. Remember… not all keywords are equal!

First, Google doesn’t rank websites. It crawls, indexes and ranks each individual page within your website.

Each page has its own value and will rank for different keywords. Generally, your website’s home page is optimised for your company/brand name, but what about those people who don’t get know you? How do you reach them if they’ve never heard of you?

What are Keywords?

Keywords are words and phrases that we type into Google, but searches don’t start there. People use search engines when they have a problem or an idea, so the keywords we use have a solid intent behind them.

Each page on your site has a purpose. Your website will probably contain:

  • Blog Posts
  • Static Pages
  • Shop Products

And, depending on your business you may also have:

  • Job vacancies
  • Message boards or forums
  • Property listings/rentals
  • Membership area

Start by considering the value of each individual page within your website. What purpose does it serve? Then, put yourself in a reader’s shoes and consider what questions they may have that would help them land on your page, and work backwards from there.

Sure, there are fancy keyword tools, but you need to have a good understanding of your target audience if you want to capture their attention.

Keywords and Search Intent

By providing content that’s optimised to meet a reader’s intent, you’re able to attract more traffic and provide something useful for your readers.

There are a handful of different types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, comparison and local intent. Let’s explore a bit about what they mean…

Informational search intent

This is definitely the most common type of search performed online, for those of you too young to remember the time before the world wide web, you probably take it for granted the fact that you have a global answer machine in your pocket!

Informational searches may be:

  • What is the capital of Myanmar?
  • When is the queen’s birthday?
  • How to clean red wine stain from fabric
  • World’s number one tennis player
  • Best time to visit Prague
  • Movie ideas to watch alone

Transaction search intent

This is what you search for when you want to buy something. For example:

  • Red cosy slippers
  • Christmas gifts for teachers
  • Metallica tickets London

Or, perhaps you’re researching a purchase:

  • Sony Camera Reviews
  • Cheap flights to Prague February 2021
  • Best washing machine under £500

Comparison intent

Comparison intent is very similar to transaction intent; you’re comparing with the intention of making a purchase. Some examples may be:

  • Sony vs Panasonic cameras
  • Samsung Galaxy vs Apple iPhone
  • Windows laptop or Macbook for school student

Local intent

These keywords will always return local, personalised results to the searcher. The results will change according to their location if using a “near me” search on a mobile device.

Websites that are well optimised for local keywords, including the town/city name, as well as having a well-maintained Google My Business listing will perform well in search results. This can get you more footfall in your premises, as well as more traffic to your website.

Here are some examples of keywords with local intent:

  • Wedding florists near me
  • Vegetarian restaurants in Cardiff
  • Nearest cake shop
  • Places to go with kids in Newport

Now that you’ve read some examples, it should start to become clear why search intent is so important when choosing your keywords for each page on your site.

The intent behind the keyword is key to your SEO success. But why long tail keywords? Well, here’s why:

Long tail keywords allow you to be more specific

Long tail keywords are 5, 6, 7 or even 10+ words long! These are highly specific queries or questions that the searcher needs answering!

“Best Camera” is pretty vague, but the person searching for “Best compact mirrorless Sony Camera under £500” knows exactly what they want!

Long tail keywords give you the chance to engage with your readers

Long tail keywords are often in the form of a question, so answering that question is more than just a chance to educate your readers, it’s a chance to entertain them!

If platforms like TikTok have taught us anything, it’s that entertainment is just as important as information in the modern world. So, be fun, conversational, and light-hearted when writing your blog posts and web pages – imagine that you’re writing each sentence as part of a chat with an old friend!

Be tremendously helpful by answering questions

Make someone’s day by sharing that ultimate tip or time-saving life hack that you know your readers will love. This is how you add true value to people’s lives – share advice that they probably haven’t seen or heard before. Or, frame it in a fresh perspective.

There’s a great feature in Google called ‘People Also Ask’ – a series of questions on the results page itself. You’ll have probably seen it yourself.

The ‘People Also Ask’ area of Google contains related and follow-up questions, that are usually answered with a snippet of text without the reader needing to click away from the results page, which is great for user experience.

Long tail keywords are less competitive

Remember that people are turning to Google for help with ultra-specific queries, the more specific, the less competition there will be!

Give yourself an easier job as a content writer by choosing long-tail keywords that are less competitive and therefore easier to rank well in Google for!

Where to put longtail keywords on the page?

Here’s my quick checklist for use of keywords on a page:

  • Page Title
  • Meta Description
  • First 100 words of the article
  • In at least 1 sub-heading (h2 or h3)
  • In the alt text of at least 1 image on the page
  • Variations/synonyms used throughout the text

After publishing a page, go to another related page/blog post on your own site and add a link from that page to the new page you’ve just created. Ensure that the link anchor text matches the keywords you’re using.

For example, you’ve just published a brand-new chocolate cupcake recipe on your blog and last week you published a recipe for vanilla cupcakes. So, you go back to the vanilla post and find a suitable place to add a new sentence that says something like “There’s a chocolate version of this cupcake recipe available too” using the words “chocolate version of this cupcake recipe” as a link to your new article.

That sentence and link anchor text has the words “chocolate cupcake recipe” in it, so Google will see that link with those words together. This is important that you optimise your text when internally linking between pages on your site, instead of just using “click here”

So those are my best tips for getting started with longtail keywords and how to understand search intent!

Author bio for web page:

Sarah Tamsin is a freelance web designer and content creator from Wales. She is a total SEO nerd, interested in all things related to making content more accessible and easier to find through organic search. Sarah has a background working in IT and in the Voluntary Sector before starting freelance life in 2019.

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