If you’re here, I’m going to assume that you’re serious about upping your SEO game. And you should be. In the world of digital marketing, understanding and implementing long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy is your golden ticket to page 1 rankings. So buckle up because we’re diving deep into how to use Ahrefs to unearth long-tail keywords that will see your site traffic soar.
Understanding Long-Tail Keywords
In the SEO world, the 3 types of keywords you need to know about are short, medium and long-tail keywords. Their names refer to the length of the keywords, i.e. how many words are included, and we use them to determine the suitability of a keyword based on the goals of an SEO campaign.
Here’s a breakdown of each type of keyword.
Short-tail keywords (1-2 words)
Short-tail keywords typically have a high search volume, but because they are so broad, conversion rates tend to be low. Short-tail keywords are often used when someone is at the beginning of their search journey, and it’s common for them to niche down their search by broadening out to medium or long-tail keywords to find exactly what they are looking for.
Examples include “SEO”, “web design”, “tops”, “dog food”.
Medium-tail keywords (2-4 words)
Search volume and conversion rates are very industry specific for medium-tail keywords. Sometimes the search is specific enough that the user will find what they need, but other times they will continue to niche down their search.
Examples include “SEO audit”, “WordPress web design”, “organic tops”, “dry dog food”.
Long-tail keywords (4+ words)
Long-tail keywords start at around 4 words in length, so they’re specific, longer, and more focused than short and medium-tail keywords.
Search volumes tend to be much lower for long-tail keywords. However, they are gold when it comes to targeted traffic and conversion rates. As long-tail keywords tend to be very specific, if you rank for long-tail keywords relevant to your offerings, you are a lot more likely to convert website traffic to sales or customers.
Examples include “professional SEO audit services”, “WordPress web design for hotels”, “red and blue organic tops”, “vegan dry dog food”.
In a nutshell, long-tail keywords are the underdogs of the SEO world. So how do we find them?
Finding Long-Tail Keywords with Ahrefs
Enter Ahrefs, a pricey but game-changing tool to help you find long-tail keywords to rank your site. Ahrefs has a huge suite of tools available, but the one you need for keyword research is Keywords Explorer.
In Keywords Explorer, you’ll need to enter a keyword to begin your search. This is typically referred to as a “seed keyword”, which is similar to a short-tail keyword. Your seed keyword needs to be specific enough that Ahrefs can provide you with decent results but broad enough that you don’t miss out on slight variations of your keyword that could be a great fit for your content.
For example, let’s say I want to create a blog post sharing my best local SEO tips. Entering “SEO” as a seed keyword will generate thousands of results in Ahrefs, which will be a nightmare to filter to find relevant long-tail keywords specific to my content. Here’s what that looks like:
To filter these results down, a better seed keyword would be “local SEO”.
Similarly, if you sell vegan-friendly dog food, entering “dog food” will bring up a lot of irrelevant results for your content. Whereas if you use “vegan dog food”, you’re more likely to get results you can work with.
Understanding the Results
Now you’ve pulled your initial report, it’s time to search through the Keyword ideas section for sub-reports related to your initial search. But it’s important you understand what each report includes before you dive in.
“Terms match” gives you phrases that include your seed keyword.
“Questions” will show queries people ask on search engines that relate to your keyword.
Both of these can be goldmines for long-tail keywords, but not all of them will be a good fit for your content. The goal here isn’t just to find long-tail keywords; it’s to find the RIGHT long-tail keywords.
Using the “Matching Terms” Report
We’re going to use the Matching terms report on the top left under Keyword ideas for this step.
In this report, you’ll see keyword ideas that include your seed keyword. But we’re looking for long-tail keywords, remember? So it’s time to narrow it down based on the keyword data we’re given.
Filter your report by adding a minimum word count of four.
Now we’ve got a report that only includes long-tail keywords, awesome! But before you go running off to optimise your content, there’s another step you can take to ensure you’ve got the best possible chance of ranking for your chosen keyword.
Filtering for Low Competition Keywords
Low competition keywords are keywords that are easier to rank for when you have a low backlink profile or low domain authority. Typically, the websites currently ranking for low competition keywords will have low domain authority or backlink profiles themselves, or they may not cover the topic in full, but it’s the closest match Google can find to answering the query.
If you find a low competition keyword that is super relevant to your content, there’s a good chance you can outrank your competition with a lot less work.
In Ahrefs, the keyword difficulty (KD) metric represents how competitive a keyword is. Generally, a lower score means less competition. In the same way we filtered the “Matching terms” report for long-tail keywords, we can filter by keyword difficulty rating.
Aim for a keyword difficulty range of 0-20 to find low competition, long-tail keywords.
Why is it important to filter for low competition keywords?
Low competition keywords are easier to rank for, especially for newer or smaller sites. Targeting these keywords helps you get your foot in the door when it comes to SEO. Over time, you will find you can target more competitive keywords as your domain authority and backlink profile increase, as well as your existing page 1 rankings!
This is the technique I follow for all my monthly SEO retainer clients if we don’t have a backlink budget – and it works!
Case Study: Finding Long-Tail Keywords with Ahrefs
Let’s say we sell scented wax melts online. To keep things fairly broad, we’ll go with a seed keyword of “wax melts” and plug it into Ahrefs, then use the minimum word count and keyword difficulty filters to find long tail keywords with low competition.
Here are the results:
We’ve got keywords like “best wax melts UK”, “strongest smelling wax melts UK”, “how to use wax melts”, “wax melts gift set”, and loads more super relevant keywords to use for products, pages and blog posts. And the best part? These keywords are specific, targeted, and less competitive.
As I said, they’re golden tickets of the SEO world.
Best Practices When Using Ahrefs for Long-Tail Keywords
Now that you’ve learned the basics, here are some insider tricks to make Ahrefs work even harder for you as a keyword research tool.
Be smart about filters. Fine-tune your results based on what’s important for your site and target audience. You can filter by search volume, keyword difficulty, or even SERP features. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between search volume, competition, and relevance.
Keep it relevant. Speaking of relevance, always, and I mean ALWAYS, ensure the keyword matches your content. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole just because the search volume is high. In the long run, relevance wins. Always.
Don’t be put off by low search volume. The data found in Ahrefs isn’t always 100% accurate. So if your gut is telling you that a keyword likely does get searched, but Ahrefs shows zero search volume, always trust your gut! And don’t forget that monthly searches can drastically change depending on the time of year.
Double-check their findings. Finally, it’s important to remember that Ahrefs is just a tool to support your keyword research. Sometimes their data can be a little off, so it’s important to do some due diligence on your end before you blindly use the long tail keywords you find in their reports. As a final step, plug the keywords from their reports into Google and check out the competition for yourself.
Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint! But if you want to find long-tail keywords that will help improve your performance, Ahrefs is the best tool for the job.