The Long Tale Keyword Myth – For NZ AdWords Advertisers

Theory: Good way for small advertisers to reach users at a lower cost is to focus on using lots of long tail keywords instead of the more popular generic terms. If you are advertising inside New Zealand you need to be vary of this strategy. If implemented in the same way American advertisers do it, you stand to lose a lot!

Long Tail Keyword Strategy in AdWords

Long tail strategy refers to focusing your AdWords campaigns on keywords that are longer/more specific, therefore less competitive and cheaper.

Example of short keyword: plumber Auckland (generic)
Example of Long Tail: qualified affordable plumber Auckland (more specific)

I was as a lead platform designer for Google AdWords automation platform that managed thousands of AdWords campaigns across huge range of industries. Biggest problem for NZ and even AU businesses (especially those outside Auckland and 5 top AU cities) was low search volumes.

If 1,000 people are searching for more generic things like ‘plumber Auckland’ only 30 may be searching for long tail ‘qualified affordable plumber Auckland’ – that precise sequence of words.

Getting these 30 visitors would be good I am not denying that, but Google will not let that happen! 

If there isn’t enough searches for your chosen long tail keyword, that keyword will simply be ignored altogether and will not trigger ads.

This is the dreadful error you will see next you your keywords if you pursue this strategy


What is the magic number of searches needed to make this keyword start showing ads? Google isn’t officially confirming this but I have reason to believe its 100 (searches/impressions).

The more local your business is, the more of a problem this becomes.

The Best (and only) Way To Capture Long-Tail Searches

Use broad match modified keywords (+) together with negative keywords (-)

Broad match modify will tell Google which keywords must show in the query. Negatives will tell it which words you want to avoid. Google will then capture all query variations around those key criteria. You will capture all those long-tail and side-searches without being restricted by “phrase” or [exact] match.
Even “phrase” match type can work but ensure your phrase isn’t long or you will hit the ‘low search volume’ error again.

Using Broad Match for Long Tail Keywords Is Counter Productive

Do not leave long tail keywords in broad match. Doing so makes your long tail keywords completely ineffective. In broad match you will appear for a whole lot of searches outside your target keywords.
Learn more about Google’ keyword matching algorithm

Your qualified affordable plumber Auckland keyword might trigger searches for how to become qualified plumber in Auckland or affordable plumbing supplies even.  You just think that you are using long-tail strategy whereas you really aren’t.


Author: Natasha Popovich

I have been in Digital Marketing since 2003. My focus over the past decade has been Google AdWords, Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimization. I spent in access of $30m on Google and worked with companies of all sizes in NZ, AU, Asia & Europe, directly and through advertising agencies. I now provide consulting services to agencies and businesses directly.