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Ranking on highly specific search phrases in the car dealer industry – What is a long tail keyphrase?

Having your car dealership’s website rank on the appropriate keyphrases is always a challenge in such a competitive industry. The automotive industry is one of the most competitive industries on the internet along with the travel industry.

It would be nice to rank on the word “cars” right? Or maybe some other ideal keyphrases you may hope to rank on could include “used cars” or “car dealership”. These keyphrases are actually called short tail keyphrases. It seems great to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, but in reality, these “popular” search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. Another example of short tail would be “cars”. Someone searching for “cars” may be researching cars, they may be looking for pictures of cars, they may be looking for the Disney movie Cars.. Who knows…..

Chasing the longtail in SEO

The remaining 70% of online searches lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day. Long tail usually converts better as they are more specific of a search term. An example of long tail would be “buy used grey Honda Civic in Edmonton”. As a dealer, you know this searcher practically has their wallet out.

When using long tail keyphrases on your website you are optimizing it for both the large search volumes of short tail & for the more specific search terms of long tail. Short tail keyphrases are often present within the long tail keyphrases. For example:

Short Tail = Used Civic

Long Tail = Buy used grey Honda Civic in Edmonton.

“Used Civic” is still present within the long tail keyphhrase. This way, you get the best of both worlds.


Written by Samantha Goettel

Organic Search (SEO) Director

Samantha started off in the traditional Marketing industry by obtaining her Marketing Diploma & a Bachelor of Management Degree in Lethbridge, Alberta. During her University years she attended l'Université Libre de Brussels, Solvay School of Business in Brussels, Belgium in French for a University Exchange Program. 9 months later she was already off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work for an international oil & gas company in their marketing department. After her many travelling adventures, Samantha moved to Edmonton to work as a Marketing Coordinator for a Canadian Franchise. She quickly learned that the future of Marketing was on the internet. She switched from a career in traditional Marketing to a career in Online Marketing, Organic Search & SEO in 2010 & has never looked back. In 2013 she studied Web Design & Development at Grant Macewan University. She also loves to backpack adventure travel and is a big foodie who loves to cook.

  • lj maxliner

    key phrases really does help. Sellers would have to really consider the top rank key words or phrases used by searchers.

  • Cargo Mats

    Great explanation! Also, just to add, I think that it’s really appropriate to use long tail keywords especially for year models purposes. Nice post!

  • Mary

    having a long tail key phrases really helps… many viewers nowadays are using this and for me add this in your keyword research strings. it helps!

    • sgoettel

      Definitely agree! Thanks for the comment!

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