Long-Tail Keywords: How a B2B Buyer Thinks & Searches

Frank Isca
Posted by Frank Isca on September 3, 2019


Congratulations! You’re likely one of the people who search online using very specific terms. It’s really how effective searchers have learned to find exactly what they need. They search for exact terms.

Welcome to long-tail keyword phrases. These are essential to how we search for specific answers and solutions when conducting an online search, especially in the business world. Today’s B2B buyer thinks and searches in long-tail keyword phrases.

Yet, before we take a deep dive (and we will) into long tail keyword best practices, let’s explore what makes a phrase a long-tail keyword phrase.

Short-Tail Keywords vs. Long-Tail Keywords

OK, it’s definition time. Short-tail keywords are only 1-2 words long, and long-tail keyword phrases are 4-5 words in total length. Those extra couple words can have a huge impact on the SEO results, which we’ll get to soon.

Check out our completely free, complete guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

First, let’s consider an example. You’re a manufacturer of custom packaging equipment, so you likely want to be found for the keyword “packaging equipment.” Since it's only two words, this short-tail phrase is much more competitive (read: difficult) to rank highly for in organic search results. Many companies are in the “packaging equipment” industry.

Now, let’s think like one of your ideal buyers, a manufacturer of windows. They need the solution you provide, so they search for “packaging solutions for windows” or “custom packaging solutions for windows.”

Compared to the 2-word short-tail keyword phrase you considered above, these 4- to 5-word long-tail keyword phrases are more descriptive. Yes, they receive fewer monthly searches, but they’re easier to rank for and, best of all, will result in the right type of traffic to your website. These are the folks who know just what they want, and they’re more ready to buy.

Best Practices for Using Long-Tail Keyword Phrases

Thinking and writing in long-tail keyword phrases should always sound natural. If it feels forced or awkward, you may be trying to use too many words. That’s why the 4- to 5-word guide is a good starting goal. Yet, maybe a 6- or 7-word long-tail keyword phrase may feel perfect.

The intended use of your long-tail keyword phrase — in the title of a blog article title, webpage, or video — should also influence how you write your phrase (and how you pair it with additional words). Here’s how you could use the long-tail keyword phrase example mentioned above in different ways:

  • Blog Article Title – Custom Packaging Solutions for Windows That Result in Less Waste
  • Webpage Title – Custom Packaging Solutions for Window Manufacturers
  • Video Title – How [Company Name] Engineers Custom Packaging Solutions for Windows

Each one keeps the long-tail keyword phrase intact while utilizing additional words to further support its use. And it feels natural to the end-user.

The Long-Term Benefit of a Long-Tail Approach

OK, so a long-tail keyword phrase receives fewer monthly searches than a highly competitive short-tail keyword. Yet, by targeting the right long-tail keyword phrases — and numerous variations of those phrases — the results for those search phrases will eventually find you at the top (or near the top, depending on your industry).

However, in today’s SEO landscape, using outstanding long-tail keyword phrases alone may not be enough. You also need to implement a topic cluster approach to your content strategy, in which you build numerous long-tail keyword phrase variations around one central short-tail keyword. Using this approach, you can build a content strategy that targets your ideal prospects’ pain points as you prove your authority on the topic.

For more on topic cluster keywords and pillar pages, read these: 
4 Steps to Building Content & Keyword Strategies Around Topic Clusters
Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters 101

Here’s one example of how it works. 


Image source: HubSpot

Don’t get caught up on the different shapes (they represent various tactics — blog, video, infographic, etc.). Just focus on the center short-tail keyword and the eight long-tail keyword phrases surrounding it, ranging from 4 to 6 words each.

When you compare this approach to targeting competitive short-tail keywords, you’ll discover that you’re saving time, effort, and money, since you’ll likely need to use paid tactics such as Google AdWords to rank for short-tail phrases. Plus, depending on the broadness of the phrase, you’re attracting a lot of the wrong search traffic.

Instead, adopt a long-tail keyword phrase mindset and a topic cluster approach to find creative ways to use these phrases in various online content formats. You could even include them in your company and employee social media profiles. Now, you’re hard to ignore when your ideal buyer begins a search for the custom solution/answer that you’re offering.

Topics: Search Engine Optimization

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