The basic accounting equation dictates:
Assets = Liabilities + Owners’ Equity.

In the Google Adwords world, this translates to:
Keyword Ad Rank = Keyword Quality Score x Keyword Bid Price (CPC)

Simply put, higher the Quality Score, higher is your Ad rank and at a lower CPC.
While there are a number of factors that influence the Quality Score, the relevance of the keyword to the ad group, ad text and landing page is critical in deciding the score. Long-tail keywords can be one of such influencing factor in improving the quality score of your ads.

 What are Long-tail keywords and how do they work:

Let’s think of a Webstore which sells a wide range of Samsung cell phones. As part of the SEM keyword strategy, let’s go through a few iterations:

Iteration 1 Keywords: “Samsung Cell Phones”, “Samsung Phones”, “Samsung Android Phones”
Well, the problem with these keywords is that they’re too broad and hence very expensive in terms of CPC.
Sample ad copy across all keywords – This Ad is very generic

long-tail keywords example 1

Iteration 2 keywords: “Samsung Galaxy S”, “Samsung Galaxy Note”, “Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere” and the combination with “Cell Phones”, “Phones”, “Android Phones” etc.

Now we are getting a bit more specific where we are targeting the Samsung Galaxy subset of keywords.  I can further add a layer to differentiate a Samsung Galaxy SII Vs SIII Vs S4.
Sample Ad Copy for Samsung Galaxy S4 – Here we are able to target a specific product with the text. Also notice the landing page consistent with the S4.

long-tail keywords example 2

Iteration 3 keywords: “Buy Samsung Galaxy SIII”, ““Samsung Galaxy SIII price”, “Buy Samsung Galaxy SIII price”, “Samsung Galaxy SIII discount”, “Buy Samsung Galaxy features” , “Compare Samsung Galaxy SII v SIII” and the combination with “Cell Phones”, “Phones”, “Android Phones” etc.
Notice here that we have moved away from matching the keywords with the product to matching the keyword with the user’s search intent.

Sample Ad copies:

long-tail keywords example 3

Add to that the possibility of including the Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) option and the intent based long-tail keywords become incredibly powerful.
Notice that from Iteration 1 through Iteration 3, we have increased the Keyword length from 2 words to 4+ words. In effect, we have moved from the generic keywords to intent based long-tail keywords.

Is all good with Long-tail keywords?

If Long-tail keywords are so effective, why are they not the standard used in defining Adwords keywords?

For starters, Long-tail keywords are hard to produce, and more importantly maintain. As an example, you can typically produce 1 million plus keywords for a mid-size e-commerce website. It is important in such a scenario to identify the non-performing keywords and pause them at the earliest. If not, you will be hurting the quality score than helping it. One key driver for the success of the long-tail keywords could be a robust optimizer platform that can auto enable/pause keywords on the fly.

Second, with a crowd of Long-tail keywords, there could be a competition within internal campaigns for an account. E.g. A “Samsung Galaxy SII Discount” will be competing against a “Samsung Galaxy SII Offer” within the same campaign. Two ways of avoiding this conflict are through a. Having well defined negative keywords for each ad-group b. Using a combination of Broad Match Modifier keywords.

To sum up, Long-tail keywords do impact the Keyword Ad rank by driving the quality score up and effectively help reduce the keyword CPC. They do have some shortfalls. But when used with a strong AI-driven marketing platform, they can significantly drive the Adwords account performance.

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