This post was written by Eric Gordon. Eric is a business-focused marketing professional based in Houston. His mission in life is to help his clients get quality and consistent leads using the latest online marketing and SEO strategies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and watching sports. Follow him on Twitter at @ericdavidgordon.
SEO is crucial for maximizing the organic traffic going to your website, and one of the best ways to boost your site’s ranking in the search results is by targeting long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are terms that have a lower search volume than other keywords, so there’s less competition for the top spots in the search results. While there’s less search volume for individual long tail keywords, combined they make up 70 percent of all search traffic.
It’s easiest to explain how long tail keywords work with an example. Let’s say that you have a site dedicated to boxing and write a post about the best boxing gloves. Instead of targeting the keywords “best boxing gloves,” you could target “best Mexican boxing gloves under $100,” because it will be much easier to achieve a high search results ranking for that keyword.
It’s important to target long tail keywords because they’re a huge traffic source – Neil Patel found in one month that 240,000 out of his 260,000 visitors, over 90 percent, reached his site from long tail keyword searches.
Long tail keywords are usually, but not always, longer and more specific than the most commonly searched for keywords. Many times the supposed perfect keyword for post is actually far too competitive to bring you much traffic, so you can improve click-through rates by making your keywords more specific.
Site owners sometimes forget about long tail keywords because they don’t generate tons of traffic on their own. But if you optimize every one of your site’s pages and posts for long tail keywords, it will rank much higher for all those keywords, resulting in a significant traffic boost.
Using Long Tail Keywords to Increase Your Traffic
When it comes to long tail keywords, you have two approaches, which are specific long tail SEO and untargeted long tail SEO. Here is how they both work.
Long Tail SEO for Hyper-Specific Targeting
With this long tail SEO strategy, you’re getting as specific as possible and targeting keywords that are likely to result in conversions. Long tail keywords can work very well for converting visitors to customers because the person often already knows exactly what he wants, so you just need to position yourself as the solution that fits his needs.
You can find out what your audience wants with what they’re searching for. This is known as user intent. By knowing what your audience wants, you can tailor your entire site and product offerings towards delivering that.
It’s important to remember that people searching for long tail keywords are about through with the research phase and have reached the end of their buying cycle, so they will be ready to buy when they reach your site.
The key with this strategy is that you choose keywords with very little competition. Search volume may be extremely low, but that doesn’t matter. Even if there are only hundreds of people searching for a phrase per year, you could pick up hundreds of customers if you target that phrase and build pages specifically to turn those visitors into customers.
So how can you find which long tail keywords to target for this? Try a keyword planning tool, such as Ubersuggest or Searchmetrics. Look for keywords in the 0-10 searches range – these may be low in volume, but they’re high in value. Then search for those keywords and see what type of pages come up. If none have all the keywords or there aren’t any pages that serve the user intent behind the search, there is an excellent opportunity for you to gain some customers.
Like other keywords, you need to use long tail keywords in as many places as possible on a page without unnaturally stuffing them in. If possible, try putting them in page titles page content, links, reviews, or testimonials. Create useful content based on these keywords for the most success with the search engines.
Untargeted Long Tail SEO for the Full Blast Approach
On the other end of the spectrum there’s the untargeted approach, where you are less targeted with your keywords and instead choose to build pages around many different long tail keywords.
This is the approach that many user-generated content sites take, including the most popular blogs. It isn’t as conversion-focused as the previous method, instead the focus is on reaching a broad group of long tail keywords that may fit your niche.
When you use this method, you’re focusing more on the content itself than on how specific your keyword targeting is. This means that the most important aspect of using this strategy is that your content is useful to people. Such content may take the form of an extensive guide on a certain topic. Bear in mind that you will need someone handling your content curation with this method, to check that your content is at or above the level you need in terms of uniqueness and quality.
If you’re trying to get a large amount of traffic to your site, it’s good to focus more on your content and target topics instead of just individual long tail keywords.
The reason is that Google recognizes topics and subtopics, and it will group pages into categories of topics instead of simply grouping them by long tail keywords. For example, Ahrefs found that a site targeting the keywords “creepy photos” also ranked for “scary photos,” “horrifying photos,” and “frightening photos,” even though it wasn’t targeting those keywords. That’s because Google knows that those other adjectives are synonyms for “creepy.”
The evidence shows that when you create very high-quality content that goes in-depth on a specific topic, you can achieve a high ranking for multiple long-tail keywords with just one of your pages. But how can you find the right topic to rank well for multiple long tail keywords?
Ahrefs has a keyword planner tool that’s useful for this. Enter your main keyword, and the tool will help you find subtopics and long tail keyword ideas. Just choose the right topic, create content that covers that topic in-depth, use secondary keywords whenever possible as subheaders, and build backlinks to that content.
Keep in mind that great content alone isn’t enough here. You need to combine it with the right promotional strategy ,and get out there and build those links to really boost your search engine results rankings.
Long tail keywords can be a goldmine when it comes to SEO. Instead of trying to claw your way up the rankings for a popular keyword and not getting anywhere near the top 10, you can achieve a high ranking just by targeting the right long tail keywords and promoting your pages properly.
Which method should you choose for your long tail SEO? That depends on your site and its goals. A targeted approach works well if you’re focused on converting a small group of customers. An untargeted approach works well if your focus is on content marketing and you want to build an authority site. Whichever approach you choose, make sure that you create high-quality content for the best results.