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What Are Long Tail Keywords?

What is a long tail keyword in SEO? Quite probably the best way you can succeed with your SEO campaign.

Long tail keywords can be thought of a niche keywords, keywords that are generally phrases of a few words or more, have less search volume than more general keywords, and most important of all, have higher conversion potential than those big-time keywords everybody chases.

What Are Long Tail Keywords — Examples

Suppose your company sells shipping boxes. Two general, popular keywords (“head keywords” in SEO lingo) might be:

  • Boxes
  • Shipping boxes

Should you build your SEO campaign around these keywords? Probably not, unless you have an extraordinarily large budget and a best-of-class website. Although these two keywords would definitely drive a lot of traffic to your website if you were successful in getting one or two of your website pages to appear on the first page of Google’s organic search results — a mighty big assumption — then you would still have three big problems:

  • Not enough relevance. People searching for “boxes” on Google might be looking for shipping boxes, moving boxes, gift boxes, folding cartons, wood crates — just about anything. Thus, traffic coming to your site from this keyword would include a lot of irrelevant traffic.
  • Not enough intent. People searching for “boxes” might be in the market for boxes, or they might be doing research on the box industry, or writing a school report on the shipping industry. Your website might help them find useful information, but these visitors won’t help your sales.
  • Not enough conversions. Because of the first two issues, your conversion rate from the keyword “boxes” figures to be low, again assuming you have the means to rank well for it. Remember that the goal of SEO is to generate sales leads or online revenue. High rankings and high organic website traffic don’t put money in your pocket.

Targeting the keyword “shipping boxes” makes a dent in the problems just reviewed, but is still likely to be far too general to serve as the cornerstone of an SEO campaign.

A better strategy for most companies is to target a larger number of long tail keywords that are very relevant, show some level of buying intent, and figure to have a conversion rate. Long tail keywords might include:

  • Shipping boxes for heavy items (application)
  • Printed shipping boxes (product feature)
  • Shipping boxes on sale (high intent)
  • Shipping boxes for sale in Chicago (high local intent)
  • Printed shipping boxes for sale (combination)

Thinking in terms of applications, features, intent and (possibly) local intent, you could develop a target list of perhaps 10-50 long tail keywords with enough collective volume to drive significant ROI on your SEO campaign. The advantages of targeting these terms are:

  • Better potential for high organic visibility on Google. Big competitors may be overlooking these terms or not paying much attention to them.
  • Better conversion rates. The percentage of relevant organic traffic from these long tail keywords figures to be high. Relevant traffic leads to sales inquiries or online orders.

What Are Long Tail Keywords — How to Capitalize on the Opportunity

Identifying the right long tail keywords is the first step in a successful SEO campaign. However, once you finalize your target long tail keywords, you must support them with the proper content on your website. This involves:

  • If you target 50 keywords, you might want to select 10 of them as your main targets. These would be the keywords you think have the best chance of driving conversions.
  • Then, you must create or modify web pages on your site to associate with each of the 10 target keywords. Ideally these pages should be high in your site’s hierarchy and have links in the top-level navigation. These 10 pages are the ones your SEO campaign will focus on to obtain high rankings. 
  • The other 40 keywords can be optimized on additional website pages and/or through your website’s blog.

If your budget is limited or you are unsure which long tail keywords represent the best opportunities, you can implement your SEO campaign in stages. Rather than try to optimize all 50 keywords from day one of your campaign, start with 10. Track results — organic traffic and organic conversions — and evaluate after six months. 

If you see positive trends, keep up the good work and expand the scope to include another 10 long tail keywords.

If you are not seeing results, introduce five new keywords to the campaign and put most of your emphasis on those for the next six months.

Some companies give up on their long tail SEO campaigns too quickly. SEO always takes time to get Google’s attention and respect, so it’s important to hang in there.

To discuss how to improve your website rankings in more detail, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.