Long Tail Keywords: From what to why
Long tail keywords and long tail key phrases are those keywords that are more specific, less common, draw less traffic and are potentially harder to refine than head keywords. If that is the case, why are they so valuable? Why should a web site owner optimize for long tail keywords? What is the definition of long tail keywords?
Definition of Long Tail Keywords
HubSpot defines a long-tail keyword as a keyword phrase that contains at least three words, is a very targeted search phrase and often contains a head term, which is a more generic search term of 1 or 2 words in length. WordStream states further, that Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase. Yoast believes that long tail keywords have a higher conversion value when they are used to focus on a specific product or niche.
Here's an example of a long tail keyword
How are long tail keywords used? Let's get a specific example. If you sell used cars, you most likely have a wide variety of makes and models, but something on that lot of yours tends to be there constantly. Not only do you sell this particular used car, you consider yourself an aficionado. For the sake of discussion, let's use a “Ford Mustang” (head keyword) as an example. In this example we are going to assume that you know the “1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500” (long tail keyword phrase) like the proverbial back of your hand.
Optimizing your blog articles, where you spew those adoring words, will draw very specific traffic by using the specific long tail keyword “1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500”.
What is the advantage of optimizing for long tail keywords?
- Relevant traffic. Since long tail keywords are more targeted, more specific and well tuned for the phrases your future customer searches for, the quality of your traffic and thus your conversions rates will increase, since the content on that page is more relevant to the searcher.
- Less competition. The keywords you choose to advertise against determine the cost of gaining a site hit. The broader the keyword, the higher the demand, the higher the cost. The more specific, the less competitive based upon global monthly searches, the lower the cost.
- Fewer negative impacts to your business. When your main keyword takes a hit for your head term on the search engine ranking page that can have a long lasting negative effect. Conversely, you can regain your ranking quicker when you lose position for a longer term phrase. This gives you more flexibility.
- Fat head and long tail. Including your single head words in your long tail keyword phrases (Ford Mustang as compared to 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500) helps gain traffic on what is typically a tough keyword. Pages with competitive terms can gain traction when you optimize and link them all together. The top 1,000 keywords account for 18% of the traffic. Moz states that long tail keyword search accounts for 70% of the traffic.
What tool can be used to target long tail keywords?
To drill-down and find how much competition exists and the number of global monthly searches it would be wise to use tools that give you those facts. These tools can help you find long tail keyword phrases when you start with your known single keywords. Meaning, if I search for 1968 Ford Mustang I also find the word fastback attached. Google has a keyword planner where you can get historical statistics and see how keywords may perform. HubSpot has a keyword grader that helps to get more granular.
Where's the stuffing? Let's be clear here!
According to Wilipedia, “Keyword stuffing is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique, in which a web page is loaded with keywords in the meta tags or in content of a web page. Keyword stuffing may lead to a website being banned or penalized in search ranking on major search engines either temporarily or permanently. Keyword stuffing had been used in the past to obtain top search engine rankings and visibility for particular phrases. This method is outdated and adds no value to rankings today. In particular, Google no longer gives good rankings to pages employing this technique.”
This is not what we are condoning here. We are talking about using well researched keyword long tail phrases, which is the basis for all search engine optimization, without which, everything else is pretty much useless.
Strategy is useless without measuring the results
In order to improve your long tail search strategy you need to analyze the results. Items you should measure are traffic oriented. How much traffic can be assigned to a certain long tail keyword phrase? How useful was that traffic? What landing pages outperformed the other in your call-to-action split test? Which keywords converted to sales? What effect did each long tail keyword have on your bounce rate, time-on-page. For those who sell on a subscription basis you can eventually use this data in your customer acquisition costs. To paraphrase Ryan Deiss, once you have solidified your measurable, polish your diamonds and toss your turds. This is when I want my client to throw gasoline on that fire!
What's the secret to long tail keyword use?
By refining and honing in on longer, quality, more specific long-tail keywords in your AdWords campaigns, you rank higher on relevant searches without having to pay a click rate that you deem to not be affordable. The trick is to find a reliable, renewable source of long-tail keywords that are right for you and for your niche.
Now that you understand the basics
Selling something online requires not only a really good product that the public wants, needs and is willing to pay for. You also need to be aware of how your audience finds what you have to offer. Unfortunately, the best product and the best organization with the fanciest web site is not who usually wins. It is who knows their audience and how they find what they want and where they look! If you understand this you can reverse engineer everything we just talked about.
In many markets the competition is fierce, dominated by huge corporations, expensive to compete with and can wipe you out the second they find you have a leg up. If you want to rank, draw relevant high quality traffic that converts on your web site, you must perfect long tail keyword optimization and analysis.
When your avatar is crystal clear, your product is amazing and you know and understand how your prospective customer searches for what you offer – the better you will rand and the more effective your advertising spend will be.
If you would like to learn more about optimizing your content for long tail keywords so you can improve your results, contact me at Viral Solutions – I do this for a living – every single hour of every day for every kind of business you can imagine.
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