The Short Tale of Long-Tailing it in Blogging for Business

  1. long tail keywords

In the animal world, fellow Mensan Bob Truett pointed out, there are several purposes for tails, including:

  • balance (as the animal climbs)
  • temperature control (for cover in the cold, for fanning in the heat)
  • defense (to swat enemies o
  • social purposes (dogs wagging their tails)

In the internet world, the concept of the “long tail” is based on the fact that when searchers type in very specific, three-to-four word phrases to describe what they want, those searchers are more likely to convert (to become buyers). The term “long tail keyword” itself comes from the 2006 book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, which talks about niche marketing. The author explains that in brick and mortar stores, there is only so much shelf space, so marketers need to focus on their most popular products. On the internet, in contrast, where there is unlimited “space”, selling in relatively small quantities to people who want specific products, becomes eminently feasible. In fact, Neil Patel (one of my own go-to authorities) asserts, “The longer the keyword, the easier it is for you to rank well with that keyword.”

Winning search should not be the only goal. Business owners and practitioners who make the commitment to give blog marketing a spot in their overall business strategy stand to reap three types of benefits:

  1. The promotional benefit (the blog helps get customers excited enough to choose you over the competition).
  2. The credibility benefit (the blog demonstrates that you’re interested in using the latest tools to communicate with customers – you’re “in the game”).
  3. The training benefit (as you review the benefits of your own products and services and develop new ideas, you’re constantly learning to talk effectively about your business).

Long-tailing it is no shortcut to success, a thought I often share with blog content writers in this Say It For You blog. But, just as tails serve many functions in the animal world, blogging for business can add balance, grasp, defense, and social purpose in the world of the internet.


Long-Tail Keyword Phrases in Blogging for Business

long tail keywords



To optimize your blog content, Lindsay Kolowich of Hubspot advises, focus on one or two long-tail keywords that match the intent of your ideal reader. In other words, optimization is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible (that actually hurts SEO), but about answering the intent of your visitors in a way that doesn’t feel unnatural or forced.

What are “long-tail keywords”? These longer phrases (three to four words), often question-based, focus on the specific goals of your audience. Website visitors searching long-tail terms, which are highly specific, Kolowich explains, are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you.

In addition to using those keyword phrases in the content itself, there are certain other elements of a post in which you should try to include the keyword phrase or phrases you’ve chosen. :

The headline of each post will be the first stop for both the search engine and the readers. The search engine will use the keyword(s) to determine the relevancy of your content to the search; the title tells readers they’ve come to the right place for the information they need. If you have a lengthy title, put your keyword near the beginning.

Meta description
On a Google page, for example, when you see an item, you’ll see the title in large blue/purple typeface (that’s the part you’d click on to be taken to the site), then under it the url address, and lastly a couple of brief lines explaining what you can expect to read in the post. It’s crucial, I explain to blog content writers, for you to use that meta description to “sell” readers on clicking there so they can read your content. Because the meta description has the power to satisfy certain readers’ intent, Kolowich emphasizes, the more engaging you can make it, the better.

Images’ alt text
Using images in your blog posts help explain your content and visually “perk it up”. But the images also offer an opportunity to incorporate those all-important keyword phrases as well.  Because search engines can’t “see” images the way humans can, Kolowich stresses, they use the alt text to tell them what the image is about.  It is worth the extra minute it takes, she says to change the name from “IMG23940” to “puppies-playing-in-basket”. It’s all the better, of course, if the description incorporates your keyword phrase.

Post content
Use keyword phrases multiple times in each post, first within the first 200 characters, several times throughout the post (depending on length of the post) and near the end, advises Susan Gunelius in

The skill of choosing the right long-tail keywords to choose grows out of knowing your own business and knowing who your target customers are. What types of searchers is your business or your professional practice most likely to attract? How long is your blogging tail?