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How To Use Long Tail Keywords To Obliterate The SERPs

We posted back in September on how to choose great keywords, but because this is such an important issue, it’s well worth revisiting again. This time we are going to be focusing on the Long Tail Keywords, and why they are so important to your website success.

Keyword Search Term Categories

The top 10 keywords will be used millions of times each day, for instance “iPod”, “travel”, “headaches”, “Slimming” and so on. These are highly generic terms (even iPod, which has become synonymous with MP3 players and the like), with extremely high competition for them they are expensive to gain rankings for, not least as much larger companies monopolize them. The next top 100 keywords will collectively attract hundreds of thousands of searches, the next top 500, tens of thousands and the next top 1000 keywords, thousands of daily searches.

Collectively, the top 1000 keywords account for approximately 19% of total search terms employed and they command a premium in terms of cost to gain rankings for them. They are known as “The Fat Head”.

There is “Chunky Middle” category which accounts for around 12% of search terms used, and typically they will be employed by users between 100 and a thousand times a day.

This leaves the Long Tail of around 70% of search terms employed each day which are used less than 100 times a day, and in some instances may only be used once. Gaining a high ranking for a Long Tail keyword is frequently cheap to achieve, but they do require research

Even a few hundred searches a day on one key term is significant for many websites, however what matters most is not the quantity but the quality of the traffic which is brought to your website.

Traffic Conversion and Long Tail Keywords

Imagine this scenario: a user searches for “guitar acoustic” and this tells us something other than the user is interested in information on acoustic guitars. This information tells us that they are still some way from making a purchase of an acoustic guitar, because they are researching using a generic search term. Here, they are at the initial point in their research because they are looking at a very wide, broad area.

Now imagine this scenario: a user searches as follows, “guitar acoustic Fender 12 string San Diego”. This search term is asking for very specific information; the product (acoustic guitar), the manufacturer (Fender), the type (12 string), and the location (San Diego). This is a user who knows what they want AND is looking for where they can source the product. This tells us that this user is close to the end of the purchasing cycle.

If you are operating a website selling guitars, which user do you want to visit your website? Obviously both of them! But in terms of converting them, clearly you will perceive greater value in the user in the second example than the first, and yet to gain ranking for the second user’s search term is not going to cost you very much.

This is the beauty of targeting long tail keywords – the second example is of course, an example of a long tail keyword – they are cheap to get high rankings for and they attract traffic which is closer to the end of the purchasing cycle, and this means you gain higher conversion rates and higher ROI.

An Additional Advantage of Long Tail Keywords

If you rely on a Fat Head keyword ranking for your traffic and sales, what happens if you lose high ranking for that prized keyword? It doesn’t make any sense to rely on a single, or restricted number of search terms for your traffic because of the risk of losing that high ranking position and the adverse impact on your business.

It makes good business sense to diversify your portfolio of keyword search terms which you are seeking high ranking for, but for most small to medium-sized businesses, this will be prohibitively expensive to do across Fat Head or Chunky Middle keywords. It is a very different matter for Long Tail search terms because they are so specific in nature, and yet so cheap to gain rankings for that you can establish a stable of such keywords to generate your site traffic. If you lose high ranking for one term, you have a number of others which will still continue to generate high-quality traffic.

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