When you're researching keywords for your business, chances are you brainstorm singular words or short phrases that you think your audience will be searching for. Although some searchers do use these short tail keywords, it turns out that you may actually be hurting yourself by focusing your SEO strategy on trying to rank for these popular keywords. Instead, you should be thinking about what long tail keywords you want to target. Here's how you can improve your rankings by focusing on long tail SEO.
First, short tail keywords are the SEO equivalent of posting the latest Internet meme- everybody's doing it, so it's harder for yours to stand out. Take, for example, a pretty popular search term here in Chicago- "pizza." Googling "pizza" on its own brings you about 210,000,000 results, making it near impossible for your website to be seen. Now, if you narrow the search a bit to "deep dish pizza," the results go down to 19,500,000- slightly better, but still pretty large. A more specific and longer-yet search of "where is the best deep dish pizza in Chicago?" and you're down to 2,350,000 results- a far cry from your original search that offers you a much higher chance of being seen by your target audience. It may be tempting to try and pour all of your resources into ranking on the first page for pizza, but unless you're Domino's or Papa John's, chances are it's a futile attempt.
That's not to say it's time to throw SEO strategy down the proverbial toilet and take your marketing door-to-door. Instead, use this revelation as motivation to really focus on what your audience wants from your website and how they would go about asking Siri to answer their question- in other words, long tail keywords. The advantages of long tail keywords are pretty great- low competition, low search volume, and high searcher intent. These factors combine to increase the likelihood that someone using a long tail search phrase will complete a conversion on your site- after all, with the right keywords, they've found exactly what they need. For example, you might only convert 1/100 times with short tail visits, but you're more likely to convert 1/10 long tail visits. So with that in mind, instead of trying to rank #1 for a difficult keyword that might bring in 100 visitors, set your sights on ranking #1 for 100 different long tail keywords, and watch your conversion rate increase.
When you start inserting long tail keywords into your content, you may face some initial difficulties working in the keywords. Unlike short tail keywords that are only one or two words, it can be a little trickier to infuse your content with long tail keywords in a natural-sounding manner. You'll have to get creative, and don't be tied to using the long tail keywords "as is." For example, to continue the deep dish pizza saga I've set out on (anyone hungry yet?), instead of using the phrase "where is the best deep dish pizza in Chicago?", try building text around the sentence "where the best deep dish pizza in Chicago is," as in, "Ask a hundred Chicagoans where the best deep dish pizza in Chicago is, and you'll likely get a hundred different answers." See how much better that sounds? Plus, you're addressing a topic that your audience really cares about, and once you get in the habit of thinking and acting like your customer, you'll be able to better refine your overall marketing strategy.
Other strategies to finding these long tail keywords? Google's Suggest and Related Keyword features that pop up whenever you Google something automatically suggest to you what other people are searching for. You can also check out what people are searching for through forums, comment threads, or questions that people e-mail into your company. Online resources like Quora and Yahoo Answers are a helpful way to gain insight into what people are asking. Finally, professional tools like Google's Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools have loads of data ready for you to discover and use to improve your marketing.
Long story short? Short may be sweet, but in the case of keywords, long tail keywords may have a bigger benefit on your company's search engine rankings. Now, I'm going to go grab some pizza.