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Introducing Keywords, Part 2: The Long Tail & Keyword Discovery Tutorial

Welcome to the fifth lesson Introducing Keywords, Part 2: The Long Tail & Keyword Discovery Tutorial of PPC Advertising Tutorial which is a part of Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Course offered by SimpliLearn.

In this lesson, we will look at another important concept with keywords is the one known as the long tail.

Let us look at the objectives of this lesson.


After completing this lesson, you will learn to:

  • Explain how the long tail concept relates to paid search

  • Describe the pros and cons of long tail keywords

  • Find and expand a keyword list effectively

In the next section of this PPC Advertising Tutorial, we will discuss how the long tail keywords concept relates to paid search.

The Long Tail

The long tail is a term coined by Chris Anderson, one of the editors of Wired Magazine. Initially looked at distribution environments and the changing of distribution, these principles can be applied to keywords.

So for instance, when you look back in time at booksellers, before there was Amazon, you had Barnes & Noble and Borders Books and so forth. Now, these bookstores, they had four walls, they were physical locations.

So if something didn't sell, they had to get it out of the store, because they were limited by in-stock inventory. They got the majority of their sales on their top 500 to 1,000 items, and they couldn't stock that only sold a few times a month.

Along comes Amazon, and they don't care if something sells 1,000 times a minute or 10 times a day or 50 times a month. They don't have physical stores; they have warehouses. They're very good at micro ordering so that they can sell low volume items.

When you look at their aggregation of sales from low volume items, they equal, and for some companies exceed the top 500 or 100 products.

So with the long tail, it's not that any one product or anyone keyword matters, it's the aggregation of them.

Let us now understand why we consider long tail keywords.

Why consider Long Tail Keywords?

Let us look at the more concrete examples for long tail here. The Sample chart and data are given in the below table.



Queries/per month


Accounting Firm




Chicago Accounting Firm




Peachtree Chicago Accounting Firm




Chicago Accounting Firm uses Peachtree Software




Accounting Firm

Let's say we have a keyword accounting firm. That's a generic word, but it describes a company type and so maybe, from some sample data we've got a $3 cost per click. It gets searched 10,000 times per month, and its conversion rate is 1%.

Chicago Accounting Firm

Take another keyword Chicago Accounting Firm. Now with geographies sometimes cash per click goes down, sometimes they go up.

Geographies can be slightly strange, but it is often less. Queries per month drop and it's only 1,000 queries per month. But it's more specific assuming you are a Chicago Accounting Firm. So conversion rate increases, it goes to 3%.

Peachtree Chicago Accounting Firm

To have an even more specific term, take Peachtree Chicago Accounting Firm. Peachtree is almost always B to B software. So the query is dropped now to only a 100 per month, but not many people advertise on this term it's now a 50 cent cost per click and conversion rate, 5%.

Chicago Accounting Firm uses Peachtree Software

Chicago Accounting Firm that uses Peachtree Software and that's specific. So when we look at these, these last two queries, they've got a great conversion rate compared to our base rate of 1%, they're 5% and 8%.

The significantly higher ratio of people who click on the ad to do some action. But their total queries are only 150, significantly less than a term like an accounting firm.

So it's not that anyone of those long tail matters, it's the aggregation of lots of these words. So this again comes into the balance of time, versus possibility, versus management, versus budget.

So you could be a big company and be very specific just a Chicago Accounting Firm that uses Peachtree Software and all these variations. But those variations are not going to fill up a really large budget.

So you're going to want to have some of these larger queries such as an accounting firm. If you're a smaller company, you've got a smaller budget.

Using these very specific terms is going to be great, because you can get really good conversions from them, and they will fill up your budget. So when you think of the long tail, also take into account the budget and the company size.

Let us now look into Ecommerce Long Tail.

Long Tail & Ecommerce

If we think of e-commerce instead of services, might have a query like a shirt. To understand the long tail and e-commerce better, look at the table given below.

Men’s Shirt Long Tail Data



Queries/per month




9.1 mil


Dress shirt




Men’s dress shirt




Men’s white dress shirt




Men’s white van Heusen dress shirt




The query, “shirt” is really generic, you don't know what gender it's for, what brand it's for, what size it's for, so you might have a $1.79 cost per click, 9 million queries a month, shirts are really high searched item, but a very low conversion rate.

Because it's such a generic query, you don't even have a good landing page for this. Now, more specific, dress shirt, CPC often goes up in e-commerce for some of these.

Queries per month go down significantly, conversion rate over the triple, but it's clothing, our first big segmentation gender, men's dress shirt.

Now, this is something a lot of people are advertising on because it's more specific, there's a lot of smart searches out there. So your cost click is up even a little higher, queries per month drops, the conversion rate goes up.

Now, if we're going to calculate the cost per acquisition, how much a sale costs, men's dress shirt is more efficient than a shirt, even at a higher cost per click because it's got a higher conversion rate.

But there comes the point, even in apparel, that cost per click starts to drop again because a lot of advertisers don't get ultra-specific.

So men's white dress shirt, we put color into this with our gender and our clothing type. Cost per click starts to go down, queries per month go down, conversion rate keeps going up.

Every time, it keeps going up, men's white Van Heusen dress shirt. Not a lot of queries, great conversion rates, even lower cost per clicks.

So, e-commerce has one of the longest long tails for most industries because you can start getting into things such as, for clothing, sizes, colors, fabric types, and of course, brands, gender. So there's a lot of modifiers you can use when you get into e-commerce.

In the next section, we will try to understand why long tail keywords don't always work.

Why don’t Long Tail Keywords always work?

Long Tail isn't always a good strategy. Sometimes Long Tail doesn't work. So, sometimes you hear advice, oh, we always go long tail, it's great” always. For example, consider PHP Scripts.



Queries/per month


PHP Scripts




PHP Authentication Script




PHP to .net Authentication Script




PHP to .net Authentication Script code




PHP Scripts

This is a developer query who's searching for PHP Scripts. Now, maybe something that generic's got a, a three-pound click, 40,000 queries a month and a, a 2% conversion rate.

Now, the person starts to get more specific.

PHP authentication script

The cost drops a little bit; queries drop, the conversion rate goes up. Then, you see the user starts to show how smart they are about this informational query.

PHP to .net authentication scripts

Cost per click drops a lot. People advertising less term queries drops. Conversion rate goes down a little bit because the user isn't always looking not to buy a script, or buy a book.

They're often looking for a form or a blog post to answer them, as opposed to commercial intent. Let me get even more specific.

PHP to .net SSO authentication script code

They've listed the fact that they want to code snippets. So, conversion rate often drops here because the user knows so much. They just want two lines, or three lines of code from a blog post to fix something they're currently working on and know how to code it.

So, sometimes with the Long Tail keywords, what you'll see is generic, or to low conversion rate, slightly specific higher conversion rate, really specific drops. So, Long Tail keywords can be useful. But don't think you should blindly use it, that it's going to work.

Let us now understand how we expand keywords appropriately.

Expanding Keywords appropriately

You often don't want to start with the long tail keywords. What you want to do is start where you have a good idea for what the users want and where your search volume is and then expand long tail appropriately because it's easy to make a million keywords.

It's really difficult to manage a million keywords and much easier to manage 300 keywords. So if we have these ad group level data, we can look for our outliers and information of where we want more traffic. That's what the long tail is good at.

Let us now look into the data are given below in the table to understand how to expand keywords appropriately.

Ad Groups


Conversion Rate

Kenneth Cole



Perry Ellis






Calvin Klein



Eddie Domani



Massimo Genni









Tommy Hilfiger



We've got this one ad group, Perry Ellis clothes. So, it only has 300 clicks, much less than all of our other ad groups. But it's conversion rate of 12%. Much higher than all other ad groups.

This is a place we want to see can we get more traffic, because our conversion rates are great. Notice this other ad group, Calvin Klein. It's got a conversation rate better than most of the other ad groups, and its got quite a bit of traffic.

So, you wouldn't want to necessarily expand some of the other ad groups yet, because they don't have quite the traffic or quite the outliers in conversion rates.

Now if we have the time, we can move to expand those, but we want to start with what's most important first.

Now, this is where you get into the concept of Deep versus Wide Keywords. So deep keywords or long tail keywords are words that are specific, and it's not that hard to make a lot of them. Ads have limited character amounts.

So when you get into something so specific as an extra large blue maternity shirt in rayon, that is such a long query it's not going to fit naturally into your ad. So the problem if we start with all these keywords, is we don't know what to put into our ad copy and is it the fact it's a color.

Should it be the size? Should it be the material?

So the reason you want to start without lots and lots of long tail is that you need to figure what goes in the ad? So you need to answer these high-level questions first, right, this great view of what's happening.

So if we sold maternity clothing what matters? Does the adjective maternity versus pregnancy matter? Does the apparel type of getting specific, of the shirt, blouse, top? Does the brand name matter? Does the color matter? Does the size matter?

Because you'll find some doesn't matter so much for the conversion rates. What doesn't matter so much is great to an ad as keyword modifiers, but we don't need to put it in the ad.

So this is why it's best not to necessarily start long tail keywords unless you've got quite a bit of experience in managing accounts, and you know how long tail's going to act for an industry.

To start the big items, and say okay, the brand matters, the color doesn't, the size doesn't, but the apparel type does. All right, so ad needs to be brand and apparel type. The others can be modifiers for keywords within our ad group. Trigger that ad to show.

Example: Maternity Shirts

So when you think of creating these long tail items, it's not difficult. It makes some list. Like adjectives, product types, attributes, colors, and sizes.

Let's mix and match some. If you can make five lists of five words and you mix and match those that are five to the fifth power of combinations.

So making keywords isn't hard, managing them is. So from a conceptual level, you want to think about the users, always think about the user. Where in that buying funnel you want to reach the user. Then consider the ad groups you want to create.

The ads and landing pages for those ad groups start to get some statistics in your account. Then if you see places you want more traffic or our outlier data then going long tail is a great way to do it.

Finding Keywords

So when we consider where to find keywords, your website's a great place to look. Your website's built right as a segmentation type of site where every page is essential hey convert and do this item or continue learning.

Every page is segmentation page until user converts or leaves your website. And that's how you should think about your website. But often you've got navigation or some way, a hierarchy system, that will give you an idea of initial starting ad groups.

Now there are lots of keyword tools. You've got Google's Keyword Planner tool. Great tool.

Bing has got a Keyword Tool. Bing Ads Intelligence. Wonderful Excel plugin. There are third-party tools like word tracker or SEM Rush. And so, there's a lot of keyword tools that will help you also find these keywords to figure out what you want to start advertising on.


Let us now summarize what we covered in this lesson:

  • When we think about keywords while doing research, keep the buying cycle in mind:

    • How do people buy from you?

    • What's the user intent?

    • Where do you want those users in your buying cycle?

This'll help you start your initial ad group creation.

  • As you're creating these ad group names, think of the ad, think of the landing page, look out for things that don't make sense, such as bleach. It doesn't mean you don't want to use them; it means you want to make a special notation.

  • As you write ads, you ensure they're very specific, and don't talk to multiple audiences then create your ad groups.

  • Make a broad list to start, when you’ve got your keywords that you're going to pipe into these ad groups, remove one-word keywords, and then start grouping your words by similar intents.

  • You can use a two root word rule for grouping. When you’re done, you’ve got a list of ad groups to start with

  • You’ll get into that ad group research of looking at your website, using tools to find these words to populate into these ad groups, and so with keywords, they're important, the lifeblood of your account.

  • It is important to first think through the buying funnel.

    • Where do you want users?

    • What are your ad groups going to be

Do the initial research, just make a list of ad groups first.

  • Once you have a list of ad groups, then you can start populating them with keywords based upon some tools and other ways of finding words we'll look to in the future.

  • When you add these keywords, you want your ads to show and what's important is the way you use match types determines how close or far away from your keywords the search query can be for your ad to show.

  • So you can ensure that you're only using keywords that are going to lead to actions on your site that you want the user to take. Which could be calling you, converting, or just spending four minutes on-site if you have more of a branding intent.

  • Your keyword should help your advertising goals and so, controlling that match type, control the ads, and landing pages by ad group and for those keywords ensures that when you have these keywords and ad groups, they are helping meet your overall goals. So you have a profitable and successful page search account.


This brings us to the end of this lesson. In the next lesson of this PPC Advertising Tutorial, we will look into Managing Search Queries & Negative Keywords.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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