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How To Use Long-Tail Keywords To Outmaneuver The Competition

Longtail keywordsThe competition is tough out there. Entrenched competitors frequently occupy top ranking positions in the search results for what seems like the most valuable and obvious keywords. This is based on a variety of factors including the age of their domains, anchor text and links from a variety of high quality and relevant sources. It takes time to build up the equity that delivers top ranking to these sites. Those who attempt to compete for those competitive keywords right from the beginning will likely be disappointed.

Fortunately, in the world of search marketing, small business can outmaneuver the big guys by doing some research.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable and high return activities in the search marketing field. There are many Keyword Research Tools available (some free and some paid) that can help you do sophisticated market research to determine exactly what terms your prospects are using to find your products and services. Accordingly, you can learn exactly exactly which terms and phrases to target with SEO. Google’s Keyword Tool is free and can be effectively used to uncover the keywords driving searches for your products and services. It is the starting point for On Page SEO.

When typing in a keyword such as “internet marketing” the keyword tool will deliver results that show exactly how many searches occurred in the prior month for that term as well as for many other related terms.

Internet marketing chart

As you can see in the results above, there were 1,220,00 searches for “internet marketing” in the prior month. While this is a very large number of searches, the term is not highly targeted. That is, the people searching using the term “internet marketing” may have many different reasons for searching using that term. They may just be curious about the subject, doing a research paper or trying to understand one of the many components of the subject. Not only will it be difficult to be ranked on page 1 of the search results for this term, it may not be a very worthwhile pursuit since the term is so broad.

However, some of the other terms listed above are a little more specific and may make more sense to target. They are called long-tail keywords.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are longer keyword phrases made up of multiple words that are very specific and what people are looking for. Characteristics of long-tail keywords include:

  • They generally have a lower search volume than the core keywords but they are more targeted
  • Because there is less competition for these terms, it is far easier to achieve page 1 rankings and be found by those looking for your products and services.
  • Since these terms are more specific and highly targeted, they are far more likely to convert!

As the chart below depicts, the more specific the term is, the fewer the searches. But the greater the likelihood of getting a page 1 ranking in the search results.

Long Tail Keyword Chart











(Chart Source: http://www.dr4ward.com/.a/6a00e54fd9f059883301bb086f5784970d-pi)

You might ask, why would you consider trying to rank for those terms that have lower search volume? The answer to that question is simply that it is very difficult to get ranked for the high volume terms….particularly when just starting out. And, as stated earlier, the more general terms do not convert as well as targeted ones.

A surprising statistic was cited in a 2008 report by Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, when he revealed that for any given topic, the top 100 keywords account for just 5.7% of all website traffic – while long-tail keywords account for the remaining 94.3%!

When small businesses target a large number of long tail terms, they can generate lots of highly targeted traffic, and outmaneuver the big guys! There are so many potential long-tail combinations that searchers may use to find what you offer and these all represent opportunities to generate business.


Long Tail Keywords, SEM, SEO

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