Keyword research is described as one of the most important activities in devising an SEO strategy.
The reason behind that is discovery.
As a business, you may have a website that can compete with HowStuffWorks for its content quality or that can be as unique as a shuffle of a deck of cards. Even if your website loads new pages faster than Barry Allen’s reading speed, Google will still not pay attention to your site, let alone, give it a place in its top 10 results.
Our purpose this time is to tell you about how to get your website the recognition it deserves – how to make it to Google’s SERPs.
And we are going to do that through our unique take on keyword research.
More specifically, we will discuss long-tail keywords – why they are important and how do we find them.
What exactly are long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords, as the name suggests, have a greater length (4 or more words) as compared to short-tail or head terms (1 or 2 words). Long-tail keywords are niche-specific and generate search results that are far more accurate to a user’s intent.
These characteristics also mean that long-tail keywords have low search volumes as compared to their shorter counterpart.
How does a keyword’s tail impact SEO?
When your website ranks for all the right keywords, the chances of getting a better conversion rate from your site visitors increase. This contributes to your overall standing.
The question is – what are the ‘right’ keywords for your site?
Consider a venture that provides wedding planning or event management services. The immediate keywords for such a business may be ‘wedding planners’. These keywords have the most search volume and it’s smart to target them, right?
The problem is that it is virtually impossible to compete with popular brands during your early days as a business. Most beginners are lured by the high search volume of competitive keywords and that leads to poor decisions in choosing keywords for their websites. Not only does Google prefer established brands for short-tail, competitive keywords, but the age of a business and/or website is given significant value for rankings as well.
This means that small/medium businesses or new ventures will find it difficult to rank for such competitive terms.
On the other hand, long-tail keywords promise lesser competition which is ideal for such businesses. Millions of unique long-tail searches conducted each day add up to more than two-thirds of the world’s searches.
Also, the accuracy of long-tail search promises better conversions for a business.
For example, a person searching for ‘Stephen Hawking’ may just be looking for some information about the scientist, but a query formulated as ‘stephen hawking universe in a nutshell hardcover’ means that the searcher intends to buy the book.
How to spot “the good” long-tailed keywords?
By definition, search queries are intended to find answers for users’ problems/questions. We select our long-tail keywords to accurately direct them to the best solution.
1 – Using Google Keyword Planner or other similar tools
With Google Keyword Planner, we can discover long-tail variations of our head terms. Going back to our earlier example of ‘wedding planners’, the tool enables us to ‘Get Ideas’ for its keyword ‘wedding planners’ as follows-
While using keyword tools, it is important to keep the following points in mind:
Search Location: Local search continues to grow in value, which makes it necessary to involve the location in our keywords. Also, while searching for keywords, it’s best to gather search volume for local searches instead of global since we want to target a specific location and its audience.
For example, if our target ‘wedding planners’ are serving in say, Atlanta, GA, then forming a long-tail such as ‘wedding planner atlanta ga’ will greatly improve the search presence of the business for that keyword.
Competition: Most long-tail keywords have low competition due to their specificity, which is another argument in their favor. Additionally, it is always preferable to target keywords with lower competition for obvious reasons.
Search Volume: In case of long-tail keywords, the search volume is the least of our concerns.
The reason is that even with zero searches per month, long-tail keywords can still generate a lot of traffic. A significant share of daily long-tail searches are entirely new, which is why the tools show zero searches per month in the first place. And since the traffic is targeted, the conversion numbers will also be much higher. Moreover, long-tail keywords have very low competition and it is easier to attract traffic from the low number of searches that occur for them.
From these, we can identify and form a suitable set of keywords which can be further improved upon through a few brainstorming sessions.
2 – Use data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics
We’ve already discussed about the relevance and scope of this power duo from Google in the growth of a business. Under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries, we can analyze queries searchers used to reach our target website. This information can be really helpful in selecting and/or formulating our list of keywords.
3 – Suggestions from Google Auto-Complete and Related Results
If (or when) you have used Google Search recently, you must have seen suggestions based on what you are typing in the search bar. Most of these suggestions are long-tails and are based on what other users have searched for.
By manipulating Auto-Complete using operators such as ‘*’ or ‘_’, we can generate more variations, and hence, more ideas for long-tails keywords.
Another noticeable feature on the SERPs is the ‘searches related to…..’ section at the end of the search results. These search queries are also examples of long-tails that have been searched for by other users.
Google Correlate is yet another search marketing tool from Google that can be used to identify search patterns based on real world trends. This tool offers solid ideas to generate our list of niche and relevant keywords.
4 – Features of the ideal keyword
To obtain the ideal keywords from our present list, the following key features of the top 10 search results must be taken note of-
- Search results must not contain the exact keyword in any order.
- The Page and/or Domain Authority of two or more search results is under 30.
- Social media profiles, question & answer sites, forums are part of search results.
- Search results should contain sub-directories.
Since these websites are much easier to outrank, targeting these long-tail keywords can help improve your website’s search rankings.
A Good Long-Tailed SEO Strategy
Now that we have our set of relevant long-tail keywords, how do we implement them to increase our organic search traffic?
- Optimizing on-page elements such as meta-titles, descriptions, alt tags, and headlines for webpages based on these keywords can improve the search presence of pages, while also improving the search snippets.
- Strategically building content around these long-tails can also improve the search visibility of webpages. We also suggest using long-tail keywords as anchor text for internal links.
- At the same time, it is necessary to avoid keyword stuffing while preparing lengthy and unique content (which may target multiple long-tail keywords) for webpages and on-site blogs.
- The same tips are suitable for off-page content strategy – preparing in-depth content for off-page publishing, such as articles and guest blog posts, with anchor text for links and alt tags optimized with long-tail keywords. For off-page blogs, H1 tags and headings must be done well to further add to the content’s value.
1 – Tale of Missing Long-tails
One of our recent clients had a problem that while their offline business was booming, their new website couldn’t generate any hits.
According to them, the site was designed with ‘something called bootstrap’, built for speed & the mobile generation and had everything that one would want from a modern website in their industry.
Once we saw their website, it was quite evident that their SEO efforts weren’t up to the mark. They were hardly targeting any long-tail keywords, which further worsened the scenario.
Following a thorough SEO audit for their website and building a new set of long-tail keywords, optimizing the on-site content and pages, we saw a 62% increase in their average search traffic with some keywords increasing up to 90% traffic on their target pages.
2 – Amazon drives 57% sales from Long-tail keywords
We know what you are thinking- Amazon is one of the largest e-retailers, and their numbers are not that significant. Yet, their example is indicative of the impact long-tail keywords have in converting rankings to sales.
Amazon uses these keywords for product descriptions since they are better at describing a user’s intent, which drives 57% sales from long-tail searches. You can read more about it here.
A key takeaway from this result is that other e-commerce brands can follow a similar strategy by optimizing product information for long-tail searches to improve their position on the SERPs. While smaller brands may not be able to compete for the same keywords as Amazon, targeting similar keywords will provide them with a better opportunity to rank well.
Notwithstanding the contributions of social media or other sources, organic search still drives maximum traffic to a website. This can help in bringing in new customers, improving the outreach and building reputation for your brand.
To sum it up, a well-done keyword research is vital in preparing an effective SEO strategy.
Thanks to the highly specific nature of long-tail keywords and the low competition they have, small and medium businesses have a better chance to increase their audience and search presence through them.
So, you’ve managed all the way through…
As a reward for your attention, we have prepared an infographic to recap all that we have covered in this blog post.