Long-Tail Keywords & “User Search Intent”

scribendi Blog, Digital Marketing, SEO

by Conor McDonough, Partner, Scribendi Digital Marketing

As search engines continue to tailor their results in real time to the way users are actually searching (not how businesses want them to), the challenge of testing and adapting “long-tail” keywords has become more and more important. The reason? “User search intent.”

What is “User Search Intent?”

“In Google’s earlier days, the search engine relied heavily on plain text data and backlinks to establish rankings through periodic monthly refreshes (known as the Google Dance).

Since those days, Google search has become a sophisticated product with a plethora of algorithms designed to promote content and results that meet a user’s needs.”

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-101/how-people-search/#close

What was once called the “Google Dance” has become a simple game of logic and a lot of it has to do with the intent of the search. Balancing “long-tail” keywords (the Google best practice benchmark is 3% of your content devoted to “long-tail” keywords) with the relevance of your content is the key. 

Fast Solutions

The world moves quickly and more and more searchers are using terms like “now,” “today,” “right away,” and “fastest” when they are searching for solutions to their problems. That plays into “long-tail” keywords. It is no longer enough to implement keyword research for basic terms (i.e. “accountant in Boston MA”) because the average searcher is trending towards search queries like “fix my accounting this quarter.” Meeting this search criteria can be accomplished by the use of “long-tail” keywords, but Google’s algorithm is so sophisticated that it can test the relevance of your content against the intent of a search. This makes creating relevant, compelling content that goes beyond keywording all the more important. 

For one law firm client we work with we were producing a large amount of content for their different law niches, but their top performing blog post was about DUI’s – a topic for which we had produced a single blog. In looking at the searches they were getting most of their hits were from “immediacy” keywords like “get out of a DUI now” or “quickly get out of a DUI.” There was no content that spoke about “getting out of a DUI” in the blog but the words “quickly” and “get out” were in the post in a completely unrelated context. Google picked up on that and delivered their blog among the top search results in their area. That insight allowed us to adapt how we were creating and content to drive results for each niche in which they work. We were able to match the relevance of our content to the intent of the searcher. 

Purchase vs. Informational

A searcher who is looking to buy vs. a searcher doing research have very different intentions. This goes back to “immediacy” keywords. Someone looking to purchase right away needs to be tailored to with those urgent keywords, while someone doing initial research needs to be tailored to with broader concepts which can lead naturally to long-tail keywords. This requires a certain amount of testing and tracking of the content you are producing. Tracking the amount of time spent on each piece of content you produce can help you to decide which informational topics you should continue to produce content for and how you frame the web page itself in order to capture those leads who are reading full articles. Google’s metrics can even parse out users who simply left a tab open in the background with your web page on it from those who stay on the page to read it. 

Emphasis on long-tail keywords and more robust, fact-checked, source-citing content has always been the logical next step for Google. 

  1. Google give marketers parameters.
  2. Those parameters over time dictate how users search.
  3. The users get overwhelmed as all marketers start to follow Google’s parameters and results start to all look the same.
  4. Users get more specific with their searching in order to wade through the traffic.
  5. Google picks up on the new search trends and changes their algorithm to deliver results in the way users are searching.
  6.  Google gives marketers new parameters based on the new trends.

It is a circle that we all contribute to and right now we are following long-tail keywords, third party social proof (in the form of Google reviews), and credentialed back-links.

If you want to take your SEO to the next level you need to be doing A/B testing and tracking every piece of content you produce. The way your top performing content is accessed by searchers gives you insight on how to tailor all future content.

Scribendi can help! We can establish your tracking metrics through Google Analytics and Google Search Console and then create, track, and adapt content all under one roof. Call us at (339) 244-4222 or email us at info@scribendi.net to learn more!