The Rise of the Longtail Keyword for SEO
Longtail keywords have always been a part of paid search strategy when setting up campaigns, but they are playing an increasingly essential role in SEO. For website content, like interior pages and blog posts, longtail keywords offer the opportunity to give users more specific content based on what they are searching for.
As users continue to get better at using search engines, their queries become much more accurate. For a service or product, many have gone from searching for just the word “pizza” and are now implementing specific requests, such as “gluten-free pizza in Portland”.
Users searching for content are also doing more thorough searches to find better information, using searches like “miter wood cuts for a playhouse” instead of just “miter cut.” Because search engines are used multiple times a day by many users on their computer, smartphone, or tablet, longtail keywords are great for better personalization and overall optimization of content.
Identifying Longtail Keywords
To identify the best longtail keywords for your industry, start by perusing the data in your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Next, use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (for a walk-through on how to use it, read “How to Perform Keyword Research with Google Adwords Keyword Tool”).
In addition, SEOMoz recommends regular monitoring of forum content, customer service correspondence, and social media to find more longtail keyword ideas.
Longtail Content Strategy
Besides acting as additional fodder for blog post ideas, longtail keywords should be a crucial part of any SEO professional’s content strategy. They provide more specific information that both users and the search engines notice. For instance, a website with several different longtail keyword variations related to their industry and offerings is seen as much more reputable than a blog or website that repeats the same generic industry keyword phrase over and over. This is also known as LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, which adds credibility and relevancy to your article in the eyes of search engines, resulting in better rankings for more keywords.
Longtail keywords are also part of natural speech and search for information, which search engines have worked toward implementing into their search algorithms. This is a big factor in the future of longtail keyword search, as search engines evolve to accommodate vocalized input (think Apple’s Siri).
More Targeted Traffic = Higher Conversion Rate
Another reason why longtail keywords help content and overall search marketing strategy is the more a specific a query is that brings a user to your website, the more likely they are going to convert into a paying customer. For example, if a rug distributor is one of the only online sites offering “purple geometric 5×7 rugs” at $100 or less, and includes optimized content around that type of search, a user looking for that specific item is much for likely to purchase a rug there than one that simply searches “buy rugs online.”
screenshot taken from Wordstream’s free Keyword Suggestion tool
The more targeted traffic is, the better the conversion rate. Publishing longtail-optimized product descriptions, content pages, and blog posts will bring more highly qualified potential customers to a company’s website. In addition, longtail keywords usually have less competition than core keywords.
Related Content Tie-Ins
Blog posts are the easiest way to add new longtail-optimized content to websites on a regular basis. While content pages can be refreshed from time to time, blog posts can consistently offer a way to introduce new website content without constantly re-writing pages that are already finished or already optimized.
To tie-in blog posts to other areas of the company website, include links in the text or at the end of the post. Many CMS platforms, like WordPress, also have Related Content plugins that automatically pull in related blog posts at the end of a post.
All links to internal product or service pages should be natural and not overly cheesy or out of place. If there isn’t a good place to put a link within the post, include a call-to-action at the end of the post, such as, “To browse the available geometric rugs we sell, please visit the Geometric Rugs product category.” This should link to the search results or category page for Geometric Rugs. E-commerce sites that have static search result or category pages make this easy.
Another blog post strategy that can implement longtail keywords is to utilize real world examples, such as case studies, event outcomes, actual questions from customers, or consumer/blogger spotlight features.
Many consumers and businesses like sharing their success or pleasant experiences, and there are many places to find positive feedback that can be turned into a blog post. Have customer service representatives or account managers keep a running list of customers that have reported a positive experience and contact one or two each month for a running case study or customer experience blog feature.
Customers are more likely to talk about experiences when they know their company or website is getting exposure, so be sure to link to the individual or business’ website and include their logo or a photo. Regular features could include the same survey or series of questions to help get the best overall view of the experience. In addition, blog posts should also include a description of the problem with the accompanying solution. This summary, along with actual explanations from the customer, will usually be ripe with longtail keywords.
While longtail keywords provide a constant source of blog post and content ideas, it’s often difficult to measure their success based on search engine rankings. This is because most longtail keywords for which you’re ranking are probably well off your radar. However, once you’ve identified a specific set of longtail keywords, it’s easy to track them in a ranking software.
But to measure the real value of longtail keywords, track customer funnels or paths taken to conversion, and measure customer feedback on content, click-through rate, and traffic for blog post pages.
While longtail keywords can take some time to research, they are worth the effort to execute as part of an overall SEO content marketing strategy. Including longtail keywords helps establish relevancy of your page in search engines, boosting rankings and website traffic, all while competing with much lower levels of competition than core keywords.
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