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September 30, 2021
11 minutes read

How to choose long-tail keywords for Google [VIDEO]

You’re doing your damnedest to increase traffic and conversions but companies holding the first search positions in your niche drive you off? Don't get in a fluster! Here, we’re on a mission to beat those mega publishers – you’re 'bout to learn how to choose those keywords that’ll make your website much more visible in the eyes of Google.

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What are long-tail keywords?

A long-tail keyword is a phrase targeting a specific issue. When you jot down, say, “sneakers” on Google, you’re targeting a very broad topic. Can you narrow this topic down?

Enter “how to choose the right running sneakers” or “running sneakers for summer 2021” and you’ll see that these topics would be much more concrete. These are those long-tail keywords that we’re putting under the spotlight today.

Long-tail keywords – hmm, kooky name, right? Well, not that much if you think of such keywords as an animal with a long tail, like a kangaroo. The head of the kangaroo represents the broadest topic, such as “sneakers.” The tail, on the other hand, stands for a wide variety of more specific, longer keywords. 

Yes, long-tail keywords are made up of more words than general terms but it’s not only about that. Consider search volumes, too. The higher the search volume, the lower the keyword variation. In fact, long-tails are keywords with a low search volume but a very specific intent.

a kangaroo in a long-tail keyword chart

Why are long-tail keywords important?

Have you ever put on your thinking cap to wonder why we need long-tail keywords when they have low search volumes? The nitty-gritty is that search volumes aren’t the critical factor in keyword and traffic quality. Feeling muddled? Lull. Below, we’ll give you three reasons why you shouldn’t turn your back on long-tails.

#1 Less competition

Oh, trust us here: it’s far easier to rank with long-tail keywords than short ones as they’re less competitive. If you’re trying to rank for keywords like “sneakers,” you’ll face an enormous army of competitors targeting the same topic. You’ll need a huge amount of time and effort to beat those gangsters. 

And now, imagine you’re 'bout to rank for less popular keywords like “how to choose the right running sneakers.” As the number of people looking for this specific phrase is smaller, you’ll stand a much stronger chance to position high on Google. This will save you time and money.

Short-tail keywords are unbelievably competitive, and expensive! Everyone wants to slice up that delicious piece of high SEO traffic. The problem is that since they’re so competitive, only the highest authority sites can rank on the first page. Long-tail keywords, however, aim for a niche of products and services, where it’s easier to compete. 

A lot of modern research shows that long-tail keywords account for more than two-thirds of all web search traffic. What does it mean? If you don’t use them, you lose marvelous opportunities to attract quality traffic and target your niche better.

using long-tail keywords to rank

#2 Higher conversion rates

On average, the conversion of long-tail keywords is more than two times higher than that of short-tails. This is the case because if people are after a more specific phrase, they already know what they want.

If they do, they’re more likely to commit and make a purchase. So long-tail keywords reflect people’s true intentions, which is why they often lead to conversions.

#3 Cost per click (CPC)

First of all, let’s get it straight – this isn’t about the organic traffic to your website. This is about the paid traffic. As mentioned before, long-tails have less competition, so their price per click is lower than that of short keywords. 

As it’s more complicated to find long-tails manually, fewer people bid on them. This makes them much cheaper than head keywords.

Free tools on Google for choosing long-tail keywords

So did we convince you that long-tails are a life-and-death feature of your marketing strategy? If so, let’s move on and see how we can find them. Although it might sound mind-blowing, the easiest way to find keywords is to use Google itself!

Review the words Google Suggest provides

Every time you write something in your search bar, Google automatically suggests the words to finish your sentence. These are the words that users are likely to type, based on the popularity of the query. 

For example, when you write “running sneakers,” Google suggests more narrow queries. Try it yourself and you’ll discover such long-tails like “running sneakers for women” and “running sneakers for flat feet.”

Google Suggest for running sneakers

Check Related Searches at the bottom of the page

As you familiarize yourself with a broad range of long-tail keywords at the bottom of a search page, you’ll simultaneously deepen your understanding of what people in your field are looking for. 

Once again, if you type in “running sneakers,” you’ll see “best running shoes 2019” or “men's running shoes” among the related searches:

Related Searches for running sneakers

Read the People Also Ask (or PAA) section

This section lists questions that people tend to ask when searching for your topic. Again, type in “running sneakers” and such concrete topics like “What are the best sneakers for running?” or “What are the 3 types of running shoes?” will fill your People Also Ask section.

People Also Ask section for running sneakers

Try the SEO Minion extension

You can increase the number of keywords in the PAA section by using the SEO Minion extension. This tool has a bunch of features for SEO analysis, among which there’s a function to download keywords from the PAA section. 

Depending on how many keywords you want to see, you might choose one of the 5 levels. We suggest selecting PAA level 6 as it’ll give you a larger set of keywords.

SEO Minion Extension

Choose “Download” and “PAA 6 levels.” Then, press “Go.” This will download a file onto your computer, where you’ll access many specific long-tails.

So if you google “running sneakers” using SEO Minion, you’ll get a file with long-tails like “Is it better to get running shoes a size bigger?” and “Can I use regular shoes for running?” It’d be as dry as dust to extract these keywords without the extension.

How can Smartproxy help you unearth long-tail keywords for Google?

Google, including the SEO Minion extension, displays information based on your location and IP address. This means that the results you get when googling a keyword from your iPhone in the USA will differ from those that’ll be shown to a person who’s googling the same keyword from the same iPhone in, let’s say, the Philippines. 

Can you imagine how many targeted long-tail keywords you could find if you had access to those results from both the US and the Philippines? And what if you unlocked all those long-tail keywords from any corner of the globe? 

That’d bring you high-quality traffic that could significantly boost your conversion rates. And hey, the best thing is that this isn’t just a dream. 

Your key to unlocking long-tails from different parts of the world is proxies. They’ll hide your real IP address so Google won’t show keywords only from your location. You could sit in the UK but clap your eyes on long-tails from Brazil!

Smartproxy Extension

One of the easiest ways to use proxies is via browser extensions – for example, our Chrome Extension. You can get the extension by going to the Chrome Web Store, typing Smartproxy, and choosing the official extension. 

Smartproxy Chrome Extension

This tool hides your public IP address behind a proxy IP. As a result, you can browse anonymously, access geographically restricted content, and view localized ads. Keep in mind though that it only works with Smartproxy proxies. 

Once you have added the extension, you’ll be able to pick a country and get a new IP address instantly. You can choose a random location or specific countries like the US, Canada, or Great Britain. Further down the list, you’ll even see states such as Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, and so on. 

choosing a location on Smartproxy Extension

Last but not least, this extension is very easy to set up. You don’t need to be a programmer or have technical skills – this is duck soup and, literally, anyone can set it up.

SERP Scraping API

But what if you have some really big-scale tasks to extract as many long-tail keywords as possible? Google won’t be your pal because it’ll block you if you send as few as 10 queries per minute from the same IP.

Thankfully, proxies can save your neck again. They can constantly rotate your IP address to avoid CAPTCHAs and blocks. However, the browser extension will no longer be enough – you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and do some coding. 

Don’t fret, though – it’s easier than it sounds. Smartproxy offers another tool called SERP Scraping API, which does much of the work for you. Smartproxy automatically chooses proxies from its 40M residential IP pool and deals with CAPTCHAs as well as data parsing.

All you have to do is specify your keyword, and we’ll return well-formatted data 100% of the time. You can target every country, US state, and many cities around the world. 

Compared to building your own Google scraper, SERP Scraping API is very easy to use. They’re also highly scalable: you can send thousands of connection requests, without worrying about CAPTCHA tests. So, they can be a very powerful asset for your SEO projects.

As for the last part of this blog post, let us give you a quick run-through of SERP Scraping API. If you’re not a computer geek, working with code might sound like rocket science. Yet, it’s not that hard.

Have a look at this example of sending a GET request to a Google URL using proxies. If you’re using a Mac or Linux, you’ll need to write this code in the Terminal. If you’re a Windows user, you’ll need to open the Command Prompt. In addition, the whole block must be written in one line. Here, the request is split into separate lines because we’ll analyze each of these lines step by step.

curl 
-k -x scrape.smartproxy.com:60000
-U SPusername:SPpassword
-H "X-Smartproxy-Device-Type: desktop_firefox"
-H "X-Smartproxy-Geo: California,United States"
-H "X-Smartproxy-Parse: 1"
"https://www.google.com/search?q=world"

The first element in this request is the proxy server and the port. The “-x” here indicates that you’re using a proxy, which in this case is scrape.smartproxy.com:60000. Do you also see this tiny “-k” at the beginning? It means that when making a request, a proxy gets Smartproxy certificates instead of the Google ones, which helps the proxy see the full URL of the Google page.

Apparently, there will be a difference between Smartproxy and Google certificates but the proxy has to ignore the differences to make a successful request and avoid verification errors. So that’s why this “-k” is paramount.

-k -x scrape.smartproxy.com:60000

Once you’re done with the server proxy and the port, move on to authentication. Here you have to insert your SERP user credentials, the username, and the password.

You can create your SERP user by logging into your Smartproxy profile through the dashboard. On a final note here, pay attention to the "-U". It’s supposed to be upper case.

-U SPusername:SPpassword

The parameters of your request are always specified in the request headers, which in this case include the device type, location, and parse method. All the headers have "-H" at the beginning.

-H "X-Smartproxy-Device-Type: desktop_firefox" 
-H "X-Smartproxy-Geo: California,United States"
-H "X-Smartproxy-Parse: 1"

Indicate the device type that you want to use to access the content that interests you. In our example, we picked a desktop using a Firefox browser.

-H "X-Smartproxy-Device-Type: desktop_firefox" 

Then, write the location from which you want to scrape Google. In this case, an IP address from California is going to be used.

-H "X-Smartproxy-Geo: California,United States" 

The third component of the request headers is the parse method. If you write 1 here, the result will be parsed and returned in JSON format. For HTML output, use the value of 0 or omit the header altogether.

-H "X-Smartproxy-Parse: 1" 

And here we come to the element of your request, which is the target. Here you have to enter the Google URL that you’re going to scrape. Put simply, enter the keyword that you would normally enter on Google. For example, “world.” 

"https://www.google.com/search?q=world"

After running this GET request to a Google URL, you’ll receive a huge JSON file. To see long-tail keywords for your target query, just scroll down and extract information from the JSON nodes "related_searches" and "related_questions."

On a final note here, as we’ve just learned how to scrape SEO data with SERP Scraping API, are you wondering about other SEO tasks? Site audits, researching competitors, acquiring backlinks, rank tracking... It's all gravy! Check out more Smartproxy resources and learn how to use SEO proxies when you’re serious about your ranking or how proxies can serve in GSA Search Engine Ranker.

Conclusion

That’s all, folks! Depending on how many keywords you seek to dig out, you can use free tools on Google or the SEO Minion extension. If your target is bigger, choose our Chrome Extension. And if you’re going for something extra big, do some easy coding and employ our SERP Scraping API.

Now, you’re a real expert in choosing long-tail keywords for Google with the help of Smartproxy. So go get 'em, Tiger!

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James Keenan

Senior content writer

The automation and anonymity evangelist at Smartproxy. He believes in data freedom and everyone’s right to become a self-starter. James is here to share knowledge and help you succeed with residential proxies.