Long-Tail Keyword Research on Deadlines – How to Find Hot Phrases on the Fly

Long-tail keyword research on deadlinesIf you aren’t targeting long-tail keyword phrases with your content, you’re missing out on rankings, traffic, and leads. However, doing keyword research can seem a daunting task – especially if you’re on a tight deadline.

In this article I’ll give you simple tips and techniques for finding hot keyword phrases on the fly. I’ll also walk you through a few case studies, and give you a video with tons of inspiration for how to use long-tail strategy in your content marketing.

Case study from ContentVerve.com:

I write a lot about call-to-action buttons, and queries related to CTA subject matter are a highly relevant source of traffics and leads for ContentVerve.com. Unfortunately, call-to-action is super competitive, and it’s really difficult to get to page one of the SERPs on that particular term. At the moment, I’m not even ranked in the top 100.

Nevertheless, my article 10 Call-to-Action Case Studies w/ Takeaways & Examples from Real Button Tests currently ranks on page one in the top five for a bunch of popular call-to-action related phrases.

A good example of a popular related phrase is call-to-action examples. I’m currently ranked number two on Google.com for it, and it brings me about 1.000 visits pr. month.

Ranked nr. 2 for call-to-action examples

analytics data

The article also ranks in the top 10 for a number of other long-tail phrases like: call-to-action test, call-to-action case study, call-to-action button test, call to action buttons, call to action button examples, A/B test call-to-action etc.

So how did I manage that? Well believe it or not, it took me about 10 minutes to do the necessary keyword research.

I knew I wanted to write a post with a lot of examples from my CTA case studies, and a few quick Google searches revealed a bunch of interesting related phrases:

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 17.22.46


Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 18.08.00

With these phrases in mind, I spent a little time putting them all together in different variations till I came up with a natural sounding headline that incorporated several long-tail phrases as well as the chunky, call-to-action.

Tips for finding long-tail phrases and using them in your content:
1. See what Google suggests

When you do a search, Google gives you a number of suggestions for different keyword phrases. These suggestions are based on other users’ behavior and can give you some really good ideas for potentially valuable long-tail phrases.

In the example I showed you before, call-to-action examples was the first suggestion Google came up with, and it turned out to be an awesome source of relevant organic traffic.

So start by typing in the main keyword or phrase and see what Google comes up with. Mess around with different queries that are relevant to the overall subject matter of your article, and you’ll in all likelihood get a number of cool ideas.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 17.23.42

Note that Google’s suggestions are no guarantee for volume. So think of it more as a source of inspiration on search tendencies and trends rather than a cheat sheet.

You can of course compare your findings with data from Google’s Keyword Tool. But be aware that Keyword Tool has it’s limitations and primarily picks up on fat keywords and phrases.

Google’s Related Searches can also be helpful. When you perform a search, Google will often give you a number of related searches at the bottom of the SERP.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 17.35.29

2. Use Übersuggest.org

Übersuggest.org is like Google suggest on steroids. It makes use of Google suggest and other services to bring you the ultimate list of phrases. In some case you can get several hundred ideas – all based on real user queries.

I use this tool a lot, not least because it’s free.

Ubersuggest.org awesome keyword tool

3. Pay attention to your audience and answer their questions

As people are becoming more and more accustomed to using Google to get answers, queries are becoming more and more elaborate. Instead of just typing in one word, people are asking Google actual questions.

I totally see this in my own behavior, and I bet you doing the same thing on a regular basis.

Now, if your potential customers are asking you questions in real life, there’s a high likelihood that they’re asking Google the same questions. If you have content out there that ranks for those exact questions, there’s a very good chance that your audience will choose to click your link.

Moreover, if you do a good job of providing solid insightful answers, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get a new customer or a loyal follower.

I’d like to show you an example of how I’ve used this strategy here on ContentVerve.com. I write about landing pages and landing page optimization. Landing page however, is highly competitive and takes a huge effort to rank for.

However, I get the question “How long should a landing page be?” all the time, and therefore I know that many marketers out there are having trouble finding the right length for their landing pages. A quick search revealed that people are in fact asking Google that exact question.

How long should a landing page be?

So instead of spending years trying to rank for landing page, I wrote an article called How Long Should a Landing Page Be? Simple Tips for Getting it Right and went straight to the page one on the long-tail phrase how long should a landing page be? And all it took was a few minutes of research, and a few tweaks to the original title.

How long should a landing page be? Search results

A great source of inspiration for long tail keyword phrases is to simply pay attention to the questions your target audience are asking. Make a note of every single question, and you’ll end up having content for a whole series of articles.

A person who has perfected the art of creating content around answering questions is Marcus Sheridan of theSalesLion.com. In fact, he builds entire content marketing strategies around answering the questions that potential customers have.

Check out this interview I did with Marcus a while back – it’s full of awesome actionable advice on how to use long-tail strategy in your content marketing:

4. Target several phrases with one post

As I showed you in the example with the post, 10 Call-to-Action Case Studies, you can easily get one article to rank for several different phrases.

In fact the article on landing page length also ranks on page one for the phrase landing page case studies.

So instead of just going for the one keyword or phrase, spend a little time researching what other phrases that are relevant to the article. Be a little creative and try to come up with different ways of fitting those phrases in to the title and content.

Let’s take this blog post for instance. A little research with the techniques described in this post revealed that there are several relevant phrases that I can target. Here are a few of them:

Long-tail keyword, long-tail keyword research, how to find long tail keywords, long-tail keyword how to, long tail keyword phrases, hot keywords.

With a little creativity and tweaking, I came up with a title that sounds natural and revolves around subject matter that’s relevant to my target audience here on ContentVerve.com.

Bonus Tip: Write for humans – optimize for robots!

The main thing with targeting several phrases at once is to avoid going overboard with the SEO aspect. No matter what, you want the title to sound natural – so write for humans but optimize for search engines. If you get carried away, you can easily end up with a title that’s stuffed with keywords clearly not targeted at humans.

If you want a little inspiration for how to write content that ranks, check out my infographic SEO Copywriting – 10 Tips for Writing Content That Ranks in 2013.

Hybrid Connect Error : Connector could not be found


  1. This is a good mashup of several tricks I’ve seen elsewhere, combining Uber and Wil Reynolds “Don’t hit enter!” research. Thanks for putting a few of them in one place!

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Thank you Matt.

      Yep, nothing new under the sun in this one. Jus thought I’d give people a mashup of some of the tricks that have helped me in my article SEO routine.

      – Michael

  2. Google suggest is really a great tool for content marketers. It gives you a quick glimpse of user’s search behavior. Incorporating questions into titles is a great strategy. Long tail keywords are where the majority of SEO “wins” are in a competitive environment.

  3. Hey Michael,
    I have a draft about “how to track long-tail SEO” and I thought I might as well share the tip here. So here we go:

    How to track long-tail SEO traffic
    It’s a lot easier to optimize something, when you can track it – right? Without tracking can’t you tell how the progress is going, nor do you have the ability to set a goal or a success criteria of the SEO-effort.

    My guess is that you use Google Analytics as a tracking tool. And here do you get the Advanced Segment trick to monetize and track the performance of your long-tail SEO effort, over time. The filter I am using includes only organic incomming traffic, from keywords that contains 3 spaces = 4+ words. You might want to tweak it, so it fits your needs.

    Here is the regular expression I’ve used, ready to copy/paste:

    1. Include –> Keyword –> Matching RegExp –> ^(\S+)(\s(\S+)){3,}$
    2. Include –>Medium –> Exactly Matching –> Organic

    This is how the Advanced segment should look like: http://d.pr/i/qzRu

    I hope that helps!

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Awesome Frederik! Thanks for sharing your tricks with the rest of us.

      Data is king!

      – Michael

  4. Thanks for your splendid article, looking forward to applying these and possibly beating you at your own game

  5. Really nice post.

    Yet another way to find keyword phrases that works for me is to look at an AdWords account and focus on ads with a high Click Through Rate.

    For some reason, the headlines on those ads are attractive to people, so I do like you’ve described here – I try to figure out what question these people must have and then write about that, using the AdWords headline in the title of my blog post

    Like finding keywords with the AdWords keyword tool or Google Suggest, this method has led me to discover some good keyword ideas.

    Anyone who wants to read more about this can click on my name above this comment. Michael, thanks for letting me link to the article!

    – Greg

  6. awesome

  7. Ubersuggest is a great tool, but it gets my head spinning some times. It spits out SO MANY subtle variations of keywords that after a short while I start to feel like I’m just looking at the same ones over and over again. Lol. Nonetheless a great tool. Also, with all the recent search engine updates including the latest Penguin 2.0, I most favor your Bonus Tip. Things are shifting more and more towards quality and away from traditional optimizing. If you just write for humans as you explained, Google is getting better at matching your pages up to the keyword phrases people are searching for just based on your relevant content rather than the SEO that went into it.

  8. Great Post Mate!

    Impressive one.. i just read one more post related to Long tail search terms.. and would like to share here: http://seomux.com/what-are-long-tail-keywords-ways-to-find-the-best-long-tail-keywords/

    It’s for beginners and here the blogger suggest 5 ways which are really effective for the research of long tail keywords

  9. Truly great tips michael. Would you suggest using long tail pro or market samurai for finding long tail keywords.

  10. Really imformative article! I notice that about 90% of traffic to my websitestraffic come from long-tail phrases.

    I have also written a method for finding long-tail keyword phrases to use in your content.

    You can check it out here: http://www.imwithcasey.com/semrush-keyword-research/

  11. Wow very good info.I think this tips will help me to increase my website http://www.niftymoney.org rank

  12. Hi Michael,
    A great article – made a lot of sense to me – I intend to use your long tail method to both improve the authority and hence site ranking as well as focus on niche markets.

    However – in deploying the long tail strategy I’m in 2 minds which way to go with my websites.

    At the moment I have 1 main site and 2 micro sites – 1 of the micro sites is a stand alone site whilst the other is a white hat doorway site.

    I’m sure the stand alone micro site is the way to go since I’ve heard so much bad news against doorways (though I think of mine as being white hat) – but the stand alone site leaves me with content duplication issues on both the policy page and contact us pages since these generic pages content does not change.


    I’m not sure whether to use either:
    – several keyword domain mircosites with lots of longtail keyword pages to provide authority


    – white hat doorway sites (ie with original value added content) with lots of long tail keyword pages adding value

    White hat door ways would be easier to maintain but then Im worried google would think Im link farming and its a doorway.

    I intend to use that great tool you proposed – the ubersuggest tool – to get more long tail ideas and add them as pages to this site such as:
    bad credit remortgages calculator
    bad credit remortgages rates
    bad credit remortgages lenders

    If you could point me in the right direction re micro v white hat door – then I’ll be able to steam ahead.

    Thank you,

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Sean – Thanks for your comment!

      I’m not an SEO expert at all, but to me it seems that you might as well play by the rules Google provides as much as possible.
      I’m under the impression that the best long-term strategy is to play it safe. So I’d probably forget about creating tons of micro sites and instead focus on building one awesome high-authority resource with lots of insightful articles and helpful tools.

      – Michael

  13. Very thought provoking post topic, Michael….(well, for me , anyway)!

    The reason being that for quite a while, I was always targeting exact match / mid to high volume keyword terms, and sometimes quite competitive.

    So, the one thing I was not always keeping track of, was the amount of long tail phrases I ranked for, even if I could not actually rank for the exact match search term.

    So, a nice batch of long tails can be much easier to rank for, and they are said to have greater staying power.

  14. “doing keyword research can seem a daunting task – especially if you’re on a tight deadline”. There is no way around it. There are people that may skipped this step and ended up spending their time,money and effort targeting wrong keywords. Although your approach to choosing long tail keywords is pretty creative.

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Asher – I agree 100%.

      I think you misunderstood the intention here. I’m in no way suggesting that you shouldn’t do keyword research. I’m just giving bloggers a few tips for doing simple keyword research – instead of doing no keyword research at all ;-) Think of the tips in this post as a supplement, not a replacement for in-depth keyword research.

      – Michael

  15. Good tips Michael. I use most of them myself. The thing I want to comment on is your bonus tip “Write for humans – optimize for robots”. With any website everyone wants more visitors! By wanting more visitors it seems a lot of sites do the opposite of your bonus tip.

    The thing to remember is even though you may get some hits you want to write in a way that connects with readers which may lead to conversions.

    With the new Hummingbird update it is more important than ever to write for humans FIRST!


  16. Long tail SEO has many benefits to offer to website owners. Whether we are running an online shop, a content driven website, a blog or our company’s website, long tail SEO can help us get more organic traffic and more targeted customers.

  17. Hi Mike,

    I now use ubbersuggest a lot – it’s such a great tool thank you for the tip/

  18. What’s up everybody, here every person is sharing such
    know-how, thus it’s nice to read this blog, and I used to pay a quick visit this blog all the

  19. Hello Michael,
    The post is quite informative. You have shared awesome tricks. I also follow these instructions while writing a post. I have one question for you, I’ll be happy if you can solve it.
    I work for a website who deals with technology stuff. I wrote an article on “Best Android Phones under 15000 in India 2013″ and the possible keyword phrases I used were “Android phones below 15000″, “best phone of 2013 in India under 15000″, “android phones to buy below 15000″…. and many more like that. My post was ranking in top 2 results continuously for around 2 months. But as the time passed, I had to write a fresh article for the year 2014 with the same keyword. But it was really hard to pull the similar results what I used to have through 2013 article. Result was, I didn’t rank for new article.
    So, how to combat this effect? I meant, people will search best android phone under the same range from 2014 year with the similar queries and I have used almost similar keyword phrases what I used for 2013 article. My question is, How to rank for fresh article with the similar set of keyword phrases. Will the term “2014” only differentiate old and new content? or People need to mention 2014 every time they search on Google. You got my example also. Please explain it according to the example.

    You have answered many queries here, I will be happy to get an answer from you.

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Naina – thanks for the comment and the kind words!

      I think you’d get better advice from someone who is more of an SEO authority than I am.

      But here are my 2 cents. I think you can take advantage of Google’s bias to new content. If you update the post for 2014 an re-publish it, there should be a good chance of getting it to rank again. In this video, Rand Fishkin presents a number of insights and tips that may be helpful:

      If you do a new keyword analysis and see if you can find some new long-tail phrases for your 2014 article that should also help.

      – Michael

      • Hi Michael,
        Waited too long for your reply! :) I am glad you replied. Thanks. Yes, You’re right I should rather do a fresh keyword analysis and try new long-tail phrases for 2014 articles. I will also watch this video and take more ideas.

        Thanks :)

  20. Superb, precise article really well written and easy to understand. Everytime I read an article around keyword phrase scraping ubersuggest.org comes up. So surprised that such a well used tool is free!

Speak Your Mind