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.