3 Tips for Driving Holiday Sales with Long-Tail Keywords

We show you how to research long tail keywords so you can drive more sales and traffic for Valentine's Day. Eat your heart out, Google.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the tell-tale signs of red, pink, white, hearts and cherubs are showing up everywhere. It brings in almost 5 billion dollars a year and businesses from card stores (as expected) to auto dealers (slightly out-of-place) want a slice of the holiday traffic spikes.

Most savvy marketers understand that high amounts of poor-quality traffic are worse than small amounts of high-quality traffic – that is the goldmine of long-tail keyword research.

Content Ideation that Capitalizes on Lower Competition and Higher Conversion Rates

Long-tail keywords: Highly specific, detailed phrases your customers or potential customers use when they search, usually at the end of their buyer’s journey when they are close to making a purchase or are looking for the answer to a question. Middle stage buyers may be searching for longer terms such as “review,” “vs,” or “guide” related terms.   These kinds of terms are usually less competitive in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) than shorter keywords and often times have higher conversion rates.


There are potential buyers out there looking for something very specific — doing the research to find the right terms for the right buyers will help you capitalize on lower competition and higher conversion rates. Choosing highly specific terms that potential customers are searching for and your competitors are not bidding on/writing towards is a great strategy if you have the resources.

This also helps with content ideation during the holidays so your teams do not fall in the rut of rewriting the same content year-after-year.

We’re going to take you through a long-tail keyword strategy for Valentine’s Day (but this foundation can be used for any major Holiday or [Insert Industry Hot Topic here]). Here is what we’ll cover:

  1. What Do Buyers Search For Around a Holiday or Topic?
  2. What To Look Out For When Clustering Keywords
  3. Competitive Intelligence and Trends Over Time

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or the Chinese New Year – targeting long-tail keywords for holidays your customers care about have the potential to drive high quality and high-converting traffic for your business.

Let’s dive into the data.

1. Heart’s Content: What Do Buyers Search for Around a Holiday or Topic?

To figure out what buyers have their hearts set on for Valentine’s Day, we first needed to gather a list of keywords and topics around Valentine’s Day. You can do this a variety of different ways but some options include: writing out word associations and brainstorming, using tools like the free Google Keyword Planner or, for a more advanced research project, Conductor Searchlight’s Audience Intent Explorer (AIE) feature.


When we entered “valentines day,” into AIE, we received hundreds of Valentine’s-related keywords and scanned through the list for topics or clusters of keywords. We also sorted by monthly search volume, stage in the buyer’s journey, and competitive level. These terms ranged anywhere from “cool valentines gifts,” “valentine ideas,” and even out-of-box terms like, “lupercalia” (a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival around February 14th).

To get a list of specific early-stage content, we filtered the list of keywords to include the word, “what.”

Audience Intent Explorer

Filtering the list to include “what” related terms unveils long-tail keywords around queries of what searchers may be most interested in that is around a topic and not a specific product ( typical end-of-funnel queries).

After we did a cluster-analysis of the 50 highest-searched Valentine-related terms, we discovered that of these 50 long tail phrases, 30 include “What to Get,” and represent 16,000+ MSV. Interestingly, 29 of these 30 terms (96.6%) were around a husband, boyfriend, or guy and only one (3.3%) was for a female significant other, specifically a “wife.”


Marketers keep hearing statistics about how men spend twice as much as women on their significant others. The assumption is to focus on gifts for women; yet, we are finding that most of the longer queries for ideas actually comes from searchers looking for gift ideas for their male significant others.

A non-scientific panel of males in the Conductor office leads to a possible reason – most guys have been well marketed to by the chocolate, jewelry, restaurant, and accessories (like small leather goods – i.e. heart-shaped Coach Wallets) industries that they don’t need ideas outside of these tried-and-true “classics.”

For whatever reason, the idea of targeting a buyer searching for a man’s gift isn’t just limited to Valentine’s Day. This is also consistent to our Google Trends research last year, where we saw that a searcher was 4x more likely to be looking for a male-related gift than a female-related gift.

Takeaway: Know who your buyers are and what their intent is.

Looking to target the highest MSVs?  Here are the top three:

  • what to get your boyfriend for valentines day (5400)
  • what to get boyfriend for valentines day (2400)
  • what to get my boyfriend for valentines day (1600)

Tip: Don’t pin yourself down to one keyword. You could target all three of these high-volume long tail keywords, with variations of “your” and “my,” depending on if someone is looking introspectively or figuratively.

2. The Heart of the Matter: What To Look Out For When Clustering Keywords

Not every buyer types a search in the same way. Optimizing for a differently worded phrase could make a huge MSV difference.

For example, the two phrases we found that had CPCs associated were the following two:

what to get your boyfriend for valentines day5400
what to get your boyfriend on valentines day90

These phrases are so similar; yet, there is a huge difference in monthly search volume. In content, writers think about grammar and invocation. But it’s obvious there’s something else to consider: the volume of people searching.

I‘m sure linguists with data and writers with intuition could point out that the “on” version makes sense to have a lower MSV due to the decreased likelihood of using that phrase and the short time period (some people buy and/or give gifts earlier or later).

Takeaway: When it comes to wording and grammar, always consider the keyword’s monthly search volume.

Note: just because a keyword phrase has a high monthly search volume does not necessarily mean that you should optimize for it.  The words you choose in your content should follow the voice of your brand, make sense to your target audience, and not vary widely.  You do not want to alienate your human audience in attempted preference of a digital Search Engine.

3. A Change of Heart: Competitive Intelligence and Trends Over Time

Knowing where your competition ranks in the SERPs and with what content can help you plan your own marketing strategy.

We dug deeper into the long tail keyword, “what to get your boyfriend for valentines day,” and saw that the #1 and #2 rankings on that SERP are dominated by RealSimple and Cosmopolitan.


Why? These are both high-quality and comprehensive gift guides for Valentine’s Day on high authority domains. RealSimple hasn’t budged from the top of this SERP since last Valentine’s Day:

Page One Comparisons for "What To Get Your Boyfriend for Valentine's Day"

Click to enlarge.

Also (a low-authority domain website dedicated to early-stage content for gifts/gift ideas) wasn’t ranking last year and is now in the 6th position.


Takeaway: Always keep an eye on your competitors, especially for holiday marketing.

All these spots are opportunities to take out this competition. If you can target the same long tail keywords as your competitor but write better content and focus on some of the other ranking factors, you have a chance to get ahead.

Don’t Let Your Heart Get In The Way of Your Head

When conducting keyword research for long-tail queries around any holiday, these tips will help you take advantage of lower competition and higher conversion rates — music to our marketing ears.

You can apply these steps yourself. Plan ahead for next Valentine’s Day, the next holiday, or the next hot topic your targeted audience is buzzing about – after all, you can get the data to guide you to the heart of what people search for.

You did your research, you’re ready to start optimizing. Brush up with Google’s recent Quality Guidelines release.

2 Responses to 3 Tips for Driving Holiday Sales with Long-Tail Keywords

  1. JuliaSEO says:

    What should I do if I don’t have a boyfriend? Haha, I’ll post-pone until “What to get your dad for Fathers Day?”

  2. Melanie Wahl says:

    Hi Julia – Thank you for the comment. The long-tail query research strategy can be applied to any Holiday. In the vein of traditional Father’s Day gifts – we actually found that RealSimple in the example above, linked to a Tie that was out-of-stock. Showcases how important it is to look at your link portfolio as well as your own content. -Melanie

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