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Long tail keywords are becoming a very integral part of small business SEO. Essentially, long tail keywords are longer (duh!) and more specific keywords. These keywords are less common than short keywords individually, but when taken as a whole, they account for the majority of searches and search-driven traffic. There are a few large benefits to long tail keywords, and they shouldn't be overlooked by marketers in any industry.
The main benefit of long tail keywords is that they're so specific. This means that even though you get less searches per term, the searches you DO get will be more targeted, and thus more readily convertible. Additionally, because these long tail keywords aren't as commonly seen on analytics tools, they are generally less competitive for both organic and paid search marketing.
The average keyword people target is called a "head" keyword. These keywords are usually about 10-25 characters in length, any shorter and they tend to be too general and there isn't much benefit (there are always exceptions). Long tail keywords are about 26-40 characters in length, any longer and you just don't see much search volume.
So, using an automotive dealership as an example, "Boston Honda" is a head keyword, while "2013 Honda Accord Boston MA" is a long tail keyword. Clearly the shorter keyword will be searched more often, but you can also see how the long tail keyword will make each search more valuable, as it's more specific and likely more ready to purchase.
To further illustrate the benefits of long tail keywords, here's a great infographic from the fine people at HitTail.