Long tail SEO has many benefits to offer to website owners. Whether you are running an online shop, a content driven website, a blog or your company’s website, long tail SEO can help you get more organic traffic and more targeted customers.
What do we mean by long tail keywords and long tail SEO?
Beginners to SEO may have troubles understanding what exactly long tail keywords are so it’s better to start by first explaining what we mean by long tail keywords and long tail SEO.
I remember reading about this 6-7 years ago; a lot of experts during that period talked about how you could make money fast by creating lots of posts targeting long tail keywords related to your niche.
Content quality was not at issue at that time, it was more important to keyword stuff your tittle and copy with instances of the long tail keywords and if you could throw a couple of links as well to the pages, you got yourself first ranking positions and the traffic started flowing in.
Despite the irony in my previous comment, the above method did work just fine and many bloggers and even companies made a fortune from it. Demand Media is a good example of a company who was running websites like livestrong that had pages of every keyword you could search for related to health, fitness and weight loss. About.com and ehow.com are a couple of more examples to understand better what I mean.
What are long tail keywords?
I will explain what we mean by long tail keywords by using some of my favourite keywords.
Let’s take for example the keyword “weight loss”. This is a very popular keyword and according to the Google keyword planner (previously the Google keyword tool) it has more than 250,000 exact keyword searches per month. It is also a high competitive keyword both in terms of advertising with Pay Per Click ads and for ranking for this term high in the search results.
If you search for this term on Google.com you will find in the first positions websites like webmd.com, Wikipedia.org and mayoclinic.com which are almost impossible to out rank with a normal website or blog.
So if it is impossible to rank for “weight loss” what is the next step? You go one step further by adding tail or tails to the existing keyword so as to narrow down your competition.
If you add the word ‘tips’ your keyword now becomes “weight loss tips” but it is still very difficult to target. According to keyword planner it is a high competition keyword and the first places in Google are occupied by highly trusted websites.
So what do you do? Add another word and it becomes “weight loss tips for men”. Looking for this term in the keyword planner you will notice that the competition is now ‘medium’ with not so big websites in the first position but it is still not good since what we want is ‘low’ competition keywords which are easier to target for ‘normal’ blogs or websites.
Changing the word ‘men’ with ‘teenagers’ so that our long tail keyword becomes “weight loss tips for teenagers” makes it a low competition keyword possible to target. Certainly the number of people searching for this keyword per month are a lot less compared to “weight loss” and “weight loss tips” but the benefits gained from ranking long tail keywords are much more than the traffic difference.
You also read another example of finding long tail keywords by reading my previous post: how to choose post titles
What is long tail SEO?
If this is not clear by now, long tail SEO is just a term that describes the process of trying to get more organic visits by targeting long tail keywords.
What are the benefits of long tail SEO?
Easier to rank compared to non-long tail keywords – Provided that you are having a high quality web site long tail keywords are easier to rank especially if you choose low competition keywords.
More targeted visits – If you think about it for a second, those users that use long tail keywords to search for something can be considered more targeted because they already made the effort to make their search terms more specific. If we are talking about ‘buying’ or ‘action’ keywords then those are more likely to convert or perform an action.
Consider the following example:
“Cars” <- General search
“used cars for sale” <- looking for used cars
“used cars for sale in florida” <- looking for used cars in florida
“used ford focus for sale in florida” <-looking for used ford focus cards in florida
Help you build website authority and trust – Having a first page placement of any keyword is an indication of website authority and trust. One of the ways to get your website prepared to target more important keywords is to get as many first placements as you can for long tail keywords.
Of course this is not the only factor that will help you build authority but a number of first place placements together with good SEO can work towards that direction.
You will get more traffic than what the keyword planner is suggesting – The keyword planner and other tools have estimates about the traffic you can get if you have a place in one of the top positions but many times their estimates are not correct especially for long tail keywords. This is because the volume for long tail keywords is low and so is their sampling so they under-estimate. I have many examples of long tail keywords that bring in 10 times the traffic shown by the keyword tool so never reject a keyword because the traffic in the tools is low.
How to find long tail keywords?
Now that you are convinced that long tail keywords are important, let’s see how you can find long tail keywords for your niche.
Google Keyword Planner: The Google keyword planner is your starting point. You can use it to try different keyword ideas and find those low competition keywords to target. One nice feature I have seen in the keyword planner and don’t remember seeing this in the old keyword tool is the option to search keywords by competition. Under keyword filters (on the left) you can select to show only keywords that have low competition.
Google search box suggestions: Another great way is to start typing keywords in the google search box and see the ideas suggested by Google. When you find a nice long tail keyword you can check it with the keyword tool and decide if it is worth targeting or not.
Bing / Yahoo suggest: Bing and Yahoo also make suggestions as you are typing a search term. You can use that as well since in almost all cases the suggestions made are different from Google so it’s worth exploiting.
Competition analysis: There is no niche without competition so it’s not a bad idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing in term of long tail keyword targeting. Register to their newsletter and RSS feed and if you like a keyword they have used, check it with the keyword planner and see if there are any variations or similar keywords you can target.
To avoid any confusion, competition analysis does not mean copying your competitor’s ideas or stealing their work but simply means keeping an eye on what other websites in your niche are doing.
Long tail SEO tips and tricks
I have said above that long tail keywords are easier to rank but that does not mean that you just throw text on a page and it will get a top position because it is a low competition long tail keyword.
You need to do a lot more than that in you want to rank in Google or any other search engine.
Content still matters: Content not only matters but it’s the most important factor for achieving and maintaining a good ranking in the long term. Make sure that your content rocks both in quantity but most importantly in quality. Use proven content marketing techniques and try to publish content that answers the question in the long tail.
Copywriting tips: When writing content you should follow some simple but yet every effective SEO copywriting tips for making your copy friendlier to search engines and users. Thinks like post titles, content freshness and formatting do matter and once you learn the basics they are very easy to follow.
On-page SEO is a must: Don’t forget the rest of the on-page SEO factors that can help you achieve better rankings. Besides the keywords and content there are other ways to make your website more attractive to search engines.
Promote, Promote, Promote: When you hit the publish button you don’t sit back and relax but you start promoting your content in social media and using other white hat techniques.
For new websites or for not so big websites there is no other way to get traffic and good rankings than working with long tail keywords. The competition for high volume keywords is so huge and it is very difficult to win one of the top positions.
The best way to start building a strong website is to provide top quality content for long tail keywords consistently so as to start gaining rankings and traffic and then gradually move on to more general terms and establish your presence.