Sunday Morning SEO: Target Long Tail Keywords First

Filed as Guides on March 8, 2009 1:20 am

For many bloggers, when they first get interested in SEO, they will go after the most competitive keywords first.  A web design blogger will optimize his site to target web design.  A gadget blogger will go after gadgets.  However, this is usually a bad strategy.

Short keywords like web design, gadgets, and social media are very hard to rank for.  For a new site, if you do everything right, it could take months and oftentimes years before you reach the front page of the search results.  And even then, there could be 10 other sites that do SEO better than you, so your site would be left languishing on the second page.

Now you may be happy with a second page or even a third page ranking, but most people don’t visit those pages.  Aaron Wall, a prominent search expert, writes:

There is no award, little traffic, and virtually no value for ranking on page 2 or page 3, even if it is for an exceptionally competitive and high traffic keyword like credit cards.

So, what’s a blogger to do?

Fortunately, the other less competitive keywords send a lot of traffic. These keywords are often called long tail keywords. (For more information about the long tail concept, check out this article.) Long tail keywords actually send the vast majority of the search traffic. If you target enough of these keywords, you’ll generate more traffic than simply going after a few popular keywords.

Long tail keywords usually have 3 or more words.  The longer keywords generally have less competition.  Therefore, instead of targeting web design, try new york web design or web design photoshop tutorials.

Psychologically, I like targeting long tail keywords because they send you traffic relatively quickly.  It can be hard to blog for a long period of time if no one is visiting your site.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to find good long tail keywords for your site.  I know I’ve written a little bit about this before, but I want to go more in-depth with the process.

For a more detailed look at long tail keywords, check out Aaron Wall’s article: Why it Makes Sense to Target Longtail Keywords First.

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  1. By Change Your Life for Better posted on March 8, 2009 at 7:51 am
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    I had learnt it only recently. I didn’t intentionally write articles on my blog for SEO purpose. I decided to write with reader in mind and to give value to the reader by writing from my experiences.

    It happened that one of my article that I wrote very recently has become a good general topic. I had been centered on topic unknowingly. I used tags related to that.

    Later I just wanted to search for the three words which central to that article. You can see the search from this link from Google ( search for “learn effective multitasking” ). You can see the above article comes first in the list. This is a great learning for me in several ways.

    First of all, I learnt the importance of a field called SEO. I heard it before but never bothered about it. But I also learnt that keywords are important but having key phrases is very useful. Using those phrases which are most likely to be used by the people searching for information on that topic. So we should use synonyms as well.

    Then I also concluded that having keywords or key phrases that are searched in Google can give more page rank value than having articles on keywords which give search results but nobody uses them.

    Later this week I checked its page rank and found that it got a PR=0. This is surprising. It seems a PR=0 means that the content is centered around a topic that is searched for.

    Thanks for writing a post on this topic :).

    Reply

  2. By Chung Bey Luen posted on March 8, 2009 at 9:15 am
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    You are right Dee, long tail keywords is the correct strategy to go. I have been implementing this strategy on my blog and I get quite good result.

    Reply

  3. By Andy Merrett posted on March 9, 2009 at 5:37 am
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    And the benefit of ranking well for these less competitive keywords is that gradually your entire site will grow in authority, gain more exposure and inbound links, and hence gradually rank higher for those currently less attainable keywords. It’s what programs like SBI effectively teach.

    Reply

  4. By Pragmites posted on March 9, 2009 at 6:52 am
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    Beginners in he blogging space tend to target generic keywords not considering the amount of competition in that space. I think a simple analysis on the Google Adwords tool is more than enough to deduct keywords. What you would end up with(and what you should ideally be targetting) is a long tail keyword that has lesser traffic and fewer competitors, increasing your chances of ranking well and getting targetted traffic.

    Reply

  5. By Justin Brooke posted on March 23, 2009 at 12:48 am
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    Thanks for pointing this fact; fighting for keywords can be a hard process and often it helps when we target those that are rarely used. Thanks for sharing this resource.

    Reply

  6. By David S posted on March 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm
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    The future of online marketing will be in highly targeted keywords. I can see the day when your many-worded question will bring you exactly what you want. Greg, from SEO (SEO Blog), mentions how businesses can use their FAQ page to take advantage of these long-tail search queries.

    Reply

  7. By Dee Barizo posted on March 28, 2009 at 11:22 pm
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    @David S

    Thanks for the link. It’s got great information.

    Reply

  8. By fornls posted on March 29, 2009 at 11:47 am
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    @David S, @Dee Barizo,

    Thanks for sharing your advice. Let me checkout the link!

    Reply

  9. By SEO services dubai posted on May 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm
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    True long tail keywords really help to generate enquirers.

    Reply

  10. By Alan Mitchell posted on August 10, 2009 at 6:32 am
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    Hi Dee,

    I agree that targeting long-tail searches can achieve significantly better results than chasing after the generic, short-tail searches. Ranking high on the first page for specific searches such as “credit cards with free balance transfer” is always better than being on the third page for “credit cards”.

    I recently did some research on PPC searches containing different numbers of words (i.e. short, medium and long-tail searches), and came to similar conclusion to yourself: that en masse long-tails can deliver significant volume. What’s more, since people making long-tail searches are often further along in the buying cycle and are therefore more motivated to buy, conversion rates are often much higher. A well though-out long-tail strategy, can be extremely profitable and is infinitely less frustrating that trying to achieve number 1 spot for that super generic keyword.

    http://www.alanmitchell.com.au/techniques/benefits-of-long-tail-keywords/

    With more of a PPC focus, I also found that since people making long-tail searches are typically more specific in their needs, long-tails present a great opportunity to write highly targeted and tailored ads and achieve a strong CTR. Although the research was carried out with PPC in mind, the general principles still apply for SEO.

    Thanks,
    Alan

    Reply

  11. By phone rental posted on October 14, 2009 at 8:48 pm
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    I completely agree that the long-tail keywords give the best traffic, as it’s the most quialified one searching for specific services or products. But some clients want to compete for more generic keywords as they want bigger traffic. It’s hard to make them understand the need of long-tail keyword strategy.

    Thanks Dee for the post and thanks Alan for your link, good one.

    Reply

  12. By John posted on October 19, 2009 at 3:00 pm
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    Beginners in he blogging space tend to target generic keywords not considering the amount of competition in that space. I think a simple analysis on the Google Adwords tool is more than enough to deduct keywords. What you would end up with(and what you should ideally be targetting) is a long tail keyword that has lesser traffic and fewer competitors, increasing your chances of ranking well and getting targetted traffic.

    Reply

  13. By Jason Kaminski posted on February 4, 2010 at 9:05 am
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    I just wanted to chime in about what I think is the most important characteristics of a keyword. I believe you need a keyword that is relevant to what your content is on your website, blog, or whatever. I also believe that you need a keyword that is searched enough, but not so much that you can not compete. That brings me to my next point obviously that you need a keyword that is not overly competitive. I would recommend finding long tail keywords that are searched 30 times or more daily and have 50,000 or less competing pages. Finally, I would try to find a keyword that has commercial intent if the content on your website or blog is trying to market. You want keywords that are going to attract people who are willing to buy. You can find long tail keywords with those characteristics all over the internet for a variety of niches.

    Reply

  14. By Toronto SEO Company Emizr Media posted on June 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm
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    For keyword selection I was searching best way how to optimize it clearly and i have found this great post. I have used this policy and get the low competition keywords.
    Thanks!!!!

    Reply

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