Chase long tail key phrases for tighter targeting

| December 5, 2009

longtailSEO is all about achieving a prominent rank in search engine results for your most profitable and relevant key words and phrases. But what happens when multiple businesses chase the same phrases?

How to beat fierce search competition

If you’re a smaller business you probably can’t afford to compete with the big boys on popular key terms. So it’s time to work smarter, not harder. Clever marketers are chasing ‘long tail’ terms instead.

‘Long tail’ terms are less popular search terms. They fall into the long ‘tail’ that trails away to the right of the Pareto distribution graph above. It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a long term per se. Having said that, long tail search terms usually include more words than head terms.

If you sell widgets your primary search term is probably ‘widgets’. But your major competitors have collared the market for it. They’re all over page one of Google for ‘widgets’.

What to do?

Dig deeper. Targeting is nothing new. Direct marketers have been targeting campaigns for half a century or more and it can work brilliantly online. Concentrating your SEO efforts on longer tail search terms lets you target website traffic much more tightly.

What does that mean? Say you sell every colour and style of widgets. Instead of bashing your head against the wall trying to rank high in search engine results pages  for the term ‘widgets’, drill down a level. Going progressively deeper, you might choose things like:

  • widgets by colour: green widgets, mauve widgets etc
  • widgets by colour and location: mauve widgets Middlesbrough, mauve widgets Brighton etc
  • widgets by size, colour and location: small mauve widgets Middlesbrough etc

Advantages of ranking high for long tail search terms

  • because you target your stuff directly to people who are searching for exactly that, visitors are more likely to convert to customers
  • it lets you compete in the same arena as the big boys. They have zillions of visitors and a relatively low conversion rate. You’ll attract fewer visitors but your conversion rate should be better
  • it’ll cost you less to gain good positions for long tail terms by natural SEO than it would to chase primary terms
  • Pay Per Click for long tail terms tends to be cheaper, potentially bringing PPC within your budget

Identifying your best long tail phrases is easy, you just need to know the ins and outs. Come back soon for the next instalment: how to identify the best long tail phrases.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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