At the center of every good SEO campaign is a set of keywords. Sure, there’s technical optimization, where you make sure the website is running smoothly, but that’s a minor exception. Many people know that key terms are important, but most who optimize for themselves immediately go for the jugular with short, generic keywords. However, with shorter keywords, your ability to rank well can be a challenging task.
There are two very important reasons to look deeper – beyond the generic:
- With a smart implementation of long-tail keywords your traffic flow may be less, but your return on investment will likely be proportionally higher. Long-tail keywords have a tendency to prequalify visitors – or at least weed some of them out.
- Rank for enough long-tail keywords and you won’t notice a smaller traffic flow. Since it’s relatively easier to rank for long-tail, you can aim for more of them. Ranking for more means more opportunity to bring traffic in to your site.
So what are long-tail keywords?
Here’s an example. You have a generic term, such as bandaids. However, the term has over 4.2 million results that you would be competing with if that was your target term. Nevermind that the individual searching for “band aids”could be looking for the history of bandaids, the future of bandaids, where to buy them, how to size them, or any number of purposes. To help narrow down the possibilities, you target the “long-tail” by adding a descriptor (history of, future of, where to buy, size chart, etc).
In addition to long-tail key terms, you can also help your chances of ranking by including related keywords. For example, bandage. By making sure that you include related terms, you also help the search engines and readers better understand what your page is about.
Fine-tuning Your Keywords
One of the most important tasks for any keyword-building campaign, pay-per-click or organic, is building a relevant list. The task will take time and patience. In fact, it can take days or weeks, and then it will continue to be an ongoing process.
There are definite steps to take in selecting the right long-tail keywords, whether you’re just starting out or an old pro in the industry:
Identify Your Target Audience
Always take quality time to identify your target audience. You’ll need to know who they are, and where they actually perform their search for products, information, and services. Talk to people, study industry publications, survey customers, and test your assumptions.
Brainstorm a Keyword List
Next, brainstorm and list as many keywords that your audience might use and create a spreadsheet. Create a master list file. Do not edit those keywords even if at first it appears the list is too broad. You may find them to be useful later on. You can always keep adding to your current list.
Review Web Server Log Files
Make it a habit to review your Web server log files. These files contain valuable information about each person that visits your website. A Web analytics or file analyzer tool can help determine what search engines a person used to arrive, and what keywords they used to land on your site. Information gained will also reveal what time of day or week a person visits, or even the browser used.
Analyze the Competition
The top ranked sites rank for a reason. Use your keyword list and enter those keywords when conducting an online search. Top ranked sites will naturally appear. Visit those sites and right click with your mouse to review meta tags such as title and keyword. Apply any information that fits your business. Keep in mind too that not all sites will reveal their meta information. Website owners do this for the obvious reasons.
Familiarize Yourself with Long-Tail Keyword Solutions
The competition for long-tail keywords is less than for short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords drive more targeted traffic. Thus, website owners can expect their conversion rates to improve. Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of sources site owners and marketers can use to research long-tail keyword solutions. There are several free tools to leverage that include Google Autocomplete, Amazon Keyword Tool, YouTube Keyword Tool, Bing Keyword Tool, eBay Keyword Tool, Google Shopping Keyword Tool, and Etsy Keyword Tool. You can find them all at Keyword.io, by using the different tabs.
Never Forget That Quality Content Matters More Than Ever
Google ranks pages that are rich in content. However, it can’t be just any content. Page content has to be relevant to a user’s search. It also has to educate the reader and provide a quality experience. People want answers and Google, especially, wants website owners to give people answers they seek.
Keep your content simple, engaging, creative, and descriptive. Overly complex copy will chase readers away. As a result, you can lose both ranking and potential customers. Use simplistic words and describe things in a way that people outside of the industry can understand. Keep in mind that people visit a website for only one reason: they want to find a solution or an answer to a question.
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