Barely any online discussion around keyword research tools is free from mention of Long Tail Pro. It seems not long ago that I remember Long Tail Pro (LTP for short) as being just another obscure piece of 2nd tier SEO software – the sort of thing that wannabe Internet marketing gurus would peddle to their lists that they built up from scummy solo ads.
And now this software is raved about by many online in the Internet/affiliate marketing community as being the second coming of Christ … or at least the next best thing after sliced bread.
But what is the “real deal” with Long Tail Pro?
Is it actually a good piece of software – or is the hype all a load of bollocks? Let’s review Long Tail Pro together and try to find out.
Grab a cup of tea (or a 42oz soda if you’re American) and let’s find out.
Important Update – 13th Feb, 2018
Since I started writing this review, there have been some important changes to Long Tail Pro. I will be going through and making full updates, but for now here is what you need to know:
- Bulk check for keyword competitiveness has been added. Rather than having to click all lines individually, you can check KC scores en-masse. This is a handy time saving feature that is definitely good.
- You can no longer buy just the base software (Long Tail Pro sans Platinum for a one-off price). There is just one edition now – Long Tail Pro WITH Platinum – and you either pay $37 per month or a lower rate of $352 per year. There is no one-off, lifetime access option any more. Until this update occurred in early Feb 2018, it used to be the case that you could purchase LTP for around $80, and you would get Platinum for free for a month and then roll onto a $27 p/m charge until you canceled. You could then keep the base software for life if you decided to cancel the Platinum portion.
You can now only have Long Tail Pro for as long as you are willing to pay a monthly or annual fee. This, in my opinion, significantly changes the value proposition of the product for the worse. Unless you are making sufficiently frequent use of the software to justify the high monthly rebill cost, or you are doing a good enough job at turning the long tail keywords you find into sales, then it is just too taxing on the wallet.
NB: People like me who purchased a lifetime access to Long Tail Pro when such an option was available will not see any change. For example, I can continue to use my Platinum-free edition with no need to start paying a monthly fee again.
As you might expect, I will talk to this point more later on in the review when I discuss the pros and cons of the product.
What Is Long Tail Pro?
If you’re Googling for Long Tail Pro reviews, then you probably have a fairly good idea what the software is all about. However, just to give you the benefit of the doubt, I will outline what it is:
- LTP is a keyword research software program. So you kinda like install it on your computer and shizz, and 9 months later keywords come out. Oh wait, that would be some kind of hybrid keyword-baby monster. In all seriousness, it’s really just a flashy version of Google’s venerable Keyword Planner.
- It is designed to help you find keywords. Think terms you would type into a search engine to find information, like “how can I illegally enter the United States of America” or “is the Queen actually a shapeshifting lizard” or even useful stuff like “weight loss tips” and “grain free dog food”. The focus here is on finding longer, less competitive keywords.
- It isn’t free, it’s paid. That’s why you need Reviews Boss to make sure you aren’t parting with your hard earned for some over-hyped pile of turd. A dollar doesn’t come for free, ya know?
Who Is It For?
When looking to review a product, one of my favourite things to do is have a think about the target audience – the people who are probably going to be buying it.
In this case, here’s who I think LTP is aimed at:
- Affiliate marketers looking to find long tail keywords around which to base their sites, and create content. The classic angle most LTP users seem to take is finding keywords like “best electric shavers under $100” and then creating affiliate sites based around those terms (I’m sure you’ve wound up on sites like this before) and monetize with Amazon Associates.
- Adsense aficionados are another target for Long Tail Pro, as the software can help to find keywords with low search competition and respectable CPCs.
- Long Tail Pro can also be useful for PPC marketers, as it can help you to find keywords that would work well as phrase and exact matched terms, as well as get an indication of CPC and Adwords competition.
What Do I Need To Run It?
Long Tail Pro is not demanding at all in its system requirements. Pretty much any Windows computer or Mac that was built since Bill Clinton got caught totally not having sexual relations with that woman Miss Monica Lewinsky should be able to handle it.
Joking aside, here are the minimum requirements:
- Adobe Air. This is a free piece of software that is available for Mac OSX and Windows, and provides the backbone of LTP.
- Google Adwords account. Once again, this is free to set up. You don’t need to spend any money on Adwords to have an account.
- A computer made within the past ~5 years. I couldn’t find any specific system requirements, but a dual core processor and 4 or more GB of RAM should be plenty. I’m running on an Intel i7 with 16gb of RAM and Windows 10, and it runs well with very few slowdowns – only when I deal with BIG keyword lists do I get any problems.
Who Makes It?
Long Tail Pro is, rather famously, the brainchild of a guy called Spencer Haws. That is not to be confused with Spencer Hawes, the Power Forward for the Charlotte Hornets (with a salary of over $4 million per year I don’t think that Hawes really needs to worry about making SEO software!!)
Spencer HAWS is a well-known figure in what I call the “passive income scene”. Other big names/blogs are Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Matthew Allen from the amusingly-named Dumb Passive Income, Darren Rowse from Problogger and a whole host of other smaller players.
Compared with affiliate marketing based on strategies like combining paid traffic with CPA offers, the passive income scene tends to be focused more on building niche websites based around a type of product or special interest, creating content based on long tail keywords, and then monetizing through Amazon, Adsense, or Clickbank. Although the initial payoff is generally much lower, the goal of any passive income convert is to build up enough sites that they have a tidy monthly sum that will roll in, even if they don’t work much.
Alongside Long Tail Pro, Spencer has also released some other software and plugin-type products, although many of these seem to have been discontinued. He also released a course, called Long Tail University, which is intended to help you make the most of LTP and find out how to generate big organic traffic to your site through effective keyword research and use. Naturally, I will be reviewing Long Tail University at some stage in the future (especially as it is an expensive course).
He also works with a guy called Perrin, who is most famous for building a website about razors that went public as a case study on building “passive” Amazon sites and then got negative-SEOd. You can read all about that here. Perrin currently seems to be working on a website about dogs, called HerePup.
How Do I Buy LTP? What Does It Cost?
Easy tiger! You haven’t even seen the full content of my review yet. However, if you are interested in buying Long Tail Pro, then here’s how you do it.
Firstly, you need to shot on over to www.longtailpro.com:
Let’s See It In Action
Now is as good a time as any to open up the hood and have a play with Long Tail Pro, in order to see what we can achieve with it.
The first thing you need to do after you have downloaded the software is fire it up. Before you can go anywhere, you will need to set up the Adwords linking for the software to work properly. You don’t need to spend anything to make an Adwords account – it is totally free to do so here.
Here’s a handy video from the Long Tail Pro team on how to configure Adwords linking:
Interestingly enough, this is one of the first signs of the key weakness of Long Tail Pro. You need an Adwords/Google account login because what the software is doing is scraping Google’s own keyword tool – the free Keyword Planner that is available here – and returning the results in a more attractive format. It’s kind of the equivalent of buying a software program that searches eBay for whatever you are looking to buy, and then returns it in a “nicer” way.
I will also revisit this point in the pros/cons section of my review, as it has an important role to play in the software “bugging out” from time to time, as well as being a crucial weakness from the perspective of value for money.
So once you’re all set up, you should see a screen similar to this:
Obviously you won’t have any data in there at first, but you get the general idea. It’s actually a reasonably intuitive and easy-to-use interface, especially compared to some other SEO software.
Options are fairly limited, as you can see below. You access the overall settings by hitting the cog symbol in the top right corner of the screen:
Let’s take a look at what options you have;
- Contact support – self-explanatory.
- User accounts – this is where you can specify your Google Account credentials as mentioned before. You can also add in a Moz API key (this is free to configure, and good instructions are provided) which is necessary for providing competition metrics like Page Authority, Domain Authority, Moz Rank and more.
- Data fetching speed – you can make the software access Google’s API faster, which may lead to you getting banned. I’ve never bothered to change these. The Bing API speed is for checking Bing SEO title competition, I think.
- Debug panel – If you’re getting issues you might be able to fix them here, provided you’re technically minded. You can actually use this to see exactly what Long Tail Pro is doing to scrape data from Google as well (I showed this above in the video).
Now it’s time to actually create a project and run a search. I believe that the best reviews are ones that “review by doing”, and that’s what we are going to do here!
Creating A Project
The building block of using this tool for effective keyword research is to create a project. Thing of an LTP Project as being a folder in which you keep all your research about one particular subject. This helps to keep your interface nice and ordered. With projects, you can also do things like pick different languages and countries to target (so if you were an affiliate marketer based in France, you could pick Google France and the French language, for example)
Once you’ve created your first project, you’ll be able to add seed keywords and then start finding some ideas!
Searching For Keywords
When you hit the add keywords button, you’ll get hit with a little popup that provides you with a number of options:
Here’s what those options mean:
- Add Seed Keywords – this is where you add your broad terms you want to build keyword lists from.
- Add My Own Keywords – a feature of LTP Platinum (will discuss this in more detail later). It allows you to bulk add your own keywords, giving you competition metrics and expanding your list much faster.
- Suggested Bids – useful if you’re looking at LTP from the perspective of building Adsense sites, or looking for Adwords keywords. You can filter so that results only above or below a certain suggested bid display.
- Local Search Volume – this is ticked by default, and is the search volume for each keyword for whichever Google locale you selected when creating your project. Once again you can pre-filter with min or max values here. Great if you want to avoid being shown hundreds of phrases with 0 or 10 or 20 volume.
- Advertiser Competition – THIS IS NOT FOR SEO, MMKAY! It’s a metric used to look at Adwords competition, so if you’re finding keywords for SEO then basically ignore this. However, may be useful for us PPC fiends.
- Num Words – A very useful feature in my opinion. You can set a min or max number of individual words in the keyword. This means you can focus on finding proper long tail phrases (e.g. “dog training toys for small puppies” as opposed to seeing lots of broader terms like “dog training”).
- Global Search Volume – THIS IS UNTICKED BY DEFAULT. Y? Y? Y? But seriously, make sure you tick this before you get to work, provided you are in a niche or business that makes sense on a global scale. Unnecessary if you are targeting a specific country or geographic area, and global volume isn’t relevant to your interests.
- Domain Availability – Checks to see if you can register your keyword as a domain name. Since EMDs aren’t cool any more, I’d advise it’s not worth the extra processing power. Branded domains are the future.
- Google Title Competition – Runs an “allintitle:” check for the keywords in Google
- Bing Title Competition – Same as above, but for Bing. Both of these are kind of useful if you are looking hard at SEO competition analysis.
As this is a review, and not a how-to guide, I won’t go into any more detail on how you can come up with seed keyword ideas etc. What we can conclude is that Long Tail Pro has some decent options for customising your search in order to get the sort of results you are after. By using geo-targeting and filtering for CPCs, keyword lengths etc, you should be able to find some good results in all but the most obscure of niches.
Once you have inputted your seed keywords, you can go ahead and hit to fetch keywords. As it is working away, you will see a message like this:
When the tool has run its course, you should see results like this:
- Easy to use – as showed right through this entire review, LTP is a very simple bit of software to use. Simply download it, make a project, add some keywords (bearing in mind the filtering options that are available) and then get to work. There really isn’t too much more to say on its ease-of-use.
- Regularly updated – when it comes to maintaining this software, Spencer and his team definitely aren’t fly-by-night merchants. It is regularly updated, with good communication about any significant updates provided through email and blog. You never get the impression with this software that it is something that will be abandoned out of the blue, and with no prior warning. You will become familiar with this:
- Good support – from what I have experienced, there is good support available from the makers of LTP. When I wanted to cancel my Platinum membership, I received a rapid and cordial response. Spencer and his crew also seem to be responsive to queries or complaints made on the blog posts on longtailpro.com, which is always a good sign that support is unlikely to be abandoned any time soon.
- Frequent specials available – Spencer & co tend to offer some decent specials on Long Tail Pro from time to time. This is annoying if you have just purchased the software for the full price; but if you are on the fence and thinking about buying, then it might be enough to sway your opinion. If you are set on purchasing, then I do suggest that you hang out for a deal. The easiest way to do this, it seems, is to register for a free trial and then keep an eye on your inbox for deals.
- Polished and professional – The overall feel you get from LTP is one of professionalism and polish. From the www.longtailpro.com website, to the good support, through to the actual program itself, you can definitely tell that a whole heap of work has gone into making Long Tail Pro what it is today. Whereas some SEO software gives off the vibe of being whipped up in an afternoon in the corner of a shed by a sweaty nerd with delusions of development grandeur, it is clear that the team behind LTP have invested heavily in developing a premium product. Good on them for doing so.
- Overpriced. I touched on this point earlier in the review, and will revisit it now. The fundamental issue I have with Long Tail Pro is that it is overpriced. $37 per month for a glorified version of the Google Keyword Planner is simply too much. Even the annual package doesn’t offer much of a discount when broken down on a monthly basis.
- Guru-hyped. This is a common problem with many products in the Internet marketing sphere (particularly courses, which are notoriously over hyped by the so-called “gurus”). It isn’t really the fault of Spencer and his crew … in fact you could really just say that they have done a good job at branding. However, the fact of the matter remains that because so many gurus and MMO experts have made Long Tail Pro out to be the panacea to all keyword research and organic traffic issues, that means many people buy the software with grossly inflated expectations of what they are going to be able to achieve with it.
- Not much better than free alternatives. This ties in to the whole being overpriced thing. Because all Long Tail Pro really does is piggy backs off of Google’s free keyword planner, and gives you a couple of extra bits of functionality pasted on, it simply isn’t that much better than what you can already get for zero to little cost. Considering you can bulk import your own keyword lists into Google Keyword Planner for analysis and expansion, that nullifies one selling point of the Platinum component of LTP. All that leaves to justify the price – as far as I can see – is the keyword competitiveness module. This is a useful feature, and when I had Platinum I did use it on a fairly frequent basis in order to get a quick gauge of how tough a keyword would be to rank. It is definitely helpful for a high-level glance at determining competitiveness, but the problem is that you should really be learning how to analyze SEO competition for keywords yourself. Thorough manual analysis of SERP results for prospective keywords is almost always going to beat out a KC score generated with some basic calculations, in terms of helping you rank effectively.
- Sometimes unreliable. Because of the way in which Long Tail Pro works, it seems prone to occasional niggling bugs. The most common problem I have encountered is that the software seems to get stuck when searching for keywords – you’ll input your seed keywords, press to generate data, and then nothing happens. Even after restarting the software, you won’t get any progress. Checking the debug window shows that this is an issue with the software logging in to Adwords/Keyword Planner and searching on your behalf. However, with recent updates this problem has become a lot less frequent.
- Other bugs I have encountered include global search volumes not being returned for keywords (even if I have selected the option), along with slow downs when swapping between projects. These slow down issues may be worse when running a less powerful computer.
- No cloud access. Here’s one of the things that gripes me the most about LTP, especially if you are paying the big premium for monthly access to Platinum – there is no cloud access. What I mean by this is that you have to use the software as installed on your computer, taking up disk space and using resources. There is no option to access Long Tail Pro via a web interface. This means it won’t work on anything other than a Windows or Mac OSX powered machine (i.e. you can’t jump on your smart phone or tablet and do some quick searching while you’re out and about). It just gives the software a very “dated” feel in that regard, and doesn’t pair well with the fact that you have to pay a monthly fee for full access to the Platinum features.
Conclusion – Is It Worth A Buy?
Oh boy, oh goody … now comes the fun part.
I feel like a Roman emperor in the Coliseum, ready to give the thumbs up or down that will either spare some poor gladiatorial soul, or find him hacked limb from limb. THE POWER IS ALL-CONSUMING!!!!
But seriously, should you buy Long Tail Pro? Should you further enrich Spencer Haws and his merry men with your hard-earned dinero?
- Short answer: No.
- Medium length answer: Don’t bother buying it.
- French answer: Non, n’en achetez pas
- Actual meaningful answer: Although LTP does have some useful features, it simply is not worth the money being charged when there are alternative options available (especially now that you have no choice but to pay a monthly or annual recurring subscription).
See here’s the thing: I actually bought Long Tail Pro with my own money. In fact, I bought it with New Zealand Dollars, a currency which is as weak as an octogenarian’s bench press; in effect it cost me even more! During my time with LTP + Platinum, I parted with the best part of $300. That hurts, especially when you’re as much of a cheapskate as I am.
AND HERE’S THE REAL $HIT: I’m willing to bet that a huge portion of the reviewers out there who are heaping praise upon LTP (especially those annoying passive income bloggers who litter the Internet with thin, crappy affiliate sites with domain names like bestelectricbuttscratcherreviews2018.info) have never spent much time with the software. Instead, they let the potential for some very generous affiliate commissions get the better of them, and jump straight on their blogs or YouTube channels to give the product a 10/10 must-buy rating, and then hope for those fat stacks to roll in.
It actually used to be a stipulation of being a Long Tail Pro affiliate that you had to have purchased the software first. This meant you could not get an affiliate link without at least being able to honestly say you paid for the software, which probably meant you had used it a few times at least. However, now that Long Tail Pro is on Clickbank’s free-for-all marketplace, you don’t need seem to need any specific prior approval to grab your affiliate link and make some cash.
Caveat: As I mentioned above in the “pros” section of this review, I am not trying to say that this product is useless. In fact, it is far from useless. You can use it to find keywords, and you can even get a rough outline of how hard it might be to rank for those keywords … it really does do what it says on the box. My gripe – and the issue that makes me disinclined to recommend the product – is that it costs too much for what it does, when you can quite adequately search for long tail phrases using free tools. And, as previously discussed, it isn’t that hard to assess keyword competitiveness
And remember as well that the real power of long tail keywords is not in the keywords you find, but how you actually go about trying to target them with your SEO or PPC efforts. You could sit in front of LTP all day (or any bit of keyword research software, for that matter) and find lots of keywords with great potential. However, if you don’t get down to the dirty business of trying to rank or bid and optimize those keywords, then you’re never really going anywhere. So owning any keyword tool, whether it is LTP or anything else, isn’t going to make you money in and of itself. Instead, you need to make use of the keywords you find and deploy them effectively to increase your earnings.
So go on, click that link if you want to try LTP for free. If you do decide to purchase, then I won’t make a red cent. And maybe when you find that goldmine long-tail keyword with 100,000 searches per month, a CPC that would make Donald Trump do a double take, and competition so weak it’s like putting prime Mike Tyson up against a peewee boxer, then you’ll strike it rich and come and laugh at me for passing up an easy few dollars per month commission I could have got by referring you.
But chances are that won’t happen. The truth is that Long Tail Pro doesn’t really do anything special that can’t be done for free with only a miniscule trade-off in terms of inconvenience.
A Word Of Advice For Spencer & His Team
As I conclude this review, let me close with a word of advice for Spencer and his team behind Long Tail Pro:
Your software has some good features. It is definitely helpful for finding keywords. However, it simply costs too much for the “average” user like myself who doesn’t use it frequently enough to make back the monthly subscription price.
If you could implement some sort of credit-based system, then I think that would improve the value of Long Tail Pro greatly for anyone who is a more casual user. For example, if one seed keyword search cost 1 credit (and you could run keyword competitiveness metrics for all the long tails that came out of that seed keyword) and you could buy a pack of 10 credits for $5 – or something along those lines – then it would make LTP a great choice. It would be so much better for people who only need to find a batch of keywords for a new site, then push out content for those keywords and come back for more for their next site, for example.
If you decide to implement this and become filthy, stinking rich on the back of this brilliant idea, then remember me and maybe send a pack of gum my way … or even a check for a couple of million. Thanks in advance guys!
Long Tail Pro Review
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Quality Of Results Product Provides
It's not fair to say that Long Tail Pro is a bad product. It does what it says on the tin. And it's also helped many people get into the dream (or is that the nightmare) of building profitable niche websites.
However, it's expensive for what it is - and the new cloud version doesn't seem to work as well in terms of generating meaningful results as the old version does.
Give it a try if you really want to, but I don't think it is worth the money.