People rave about the value of keyword optimization, rarely diving deeply into which keywords to use and why. You’ve read at least 10 articles that describe how to do it and yet, you’re confused.
Understanding the importance of keyword optimization is the first step, but you’re probably ready to get into the meat of it all. You’re ready to start seeing results.
When it comes to keywords, the intelligent use of data is what yields results. You need to look at the rankings and patterns that others are getting. In order to get real results, though, you need to look past the data.
The next step is understanding how to use long and short tail keywords.
The Illusion of Short Tail Keywords
When you look at the distribution of keyword searches in just about any niche, you’re going to see a similar pattern. On the left, the highest volume of searches is coming from single, “short tail” keywords.
“Car,” for example, is going to have millions and millions of hits. As the distribution begins to level out, you see the keywords getting a little less specific and longer. At first glance, you would think, “yeah, of course, I should use “car’ in my optimization– millions of people are searching for it.”
That’s the intuitive answer, but it is incorrect. There’s a place for short tail keywords, but it’s small and highly specific. These keywords are good for ads that seek to reach broad demographics and have expansive budgets.
Most people don’t fall into that category. When you think about it, what is your goal? What is the reason why you’re optimizing your site and building links?
You want to make conversions. Conversions are the dollars you put into your savings account. They’re the cool gaming system you bought just because you could.
Conversions are sales.
Long Tails Get Sales
Alright, that rhyme was pretty lame. It’s true, though.
Short tail searches are extremely high-volume but very unspecific. In the sea of searches, you might find a few customers looking for your product. Specific products, though, require specific keywords.
The people who want to buy something and know what they’re looking for are going to be specific when they search online. Instead of “car,” they’re going to search “1997 Nissan Maxima Sport Blue,” or something like that.
The same goes for literally everything else. To fully grasp the picture, think about the distribution of keyword searches again. Sure, there are 10 million people searching for “sports.”
Most of them are going to type “football” or “soccer,” but the distribution is very consistent. Short tail keywords only take up about 10 percent of the distribution. Medium keywords grab about 20 percent of the scraps from behind the short tails.
The last 70 percent of the keyword distribution is filled with long tail keywords. That’s where your market is.
How Do People Shop?
To fully tap into how long tail keywords work, let’s think about how we ourselves shop online.
We start by becoming somewhat aware of the product. Maybe we don’t have specific brands in mind, but we know that we’re interested in buying a kombucha kit, for instance.
We ask people who are around us if they know anything about this product – just to find that they don’t have a clue. Then we take out our phones and do a quick Google search. We don’t just type “Kombucha” or “Kombucha kit,” we type something more specific, right?
We go for something like “Beginner’s Kombucha Kit” or “Best Kombucha Making Kits.” Those are the long tail keywords that bring us to the area of the Internet we want to go to. Once we get there, we pick one of the top three items of the search results.
The more specific we get, the more obscure the site. That’s the thing to take note of here. Your site probably doesn’t have the domain authority or ranking potential of Forbes, but it might look absolutely perfect for the product you’re selling.
You don’t need to become some huge company to rank near the top of the search. You only need to precisely optimize your long tail keywords to fit your niche. Not everyone does this, so there’s not always competition at the top of those searches.
Don’t Let the Numbers Confuse You
When you’re assessing your keyword research, you may be discouraged to find that your keyword is ranked fourth or fifth in the results. While you’d like to have a perfect world where everyone searches your product, that’s not the case.
That being said, look closer at your keyword. While the short tail words are raking in millions of searches, those 12,000 searches that your keyword is getting only look small by comparison.
Let’s say that you rank really well for that keyword and ten percent of the users click on your link. Then let’s say that 40 percent of those users make a $100 purchase on your site.
This puts you at 1,200 site views for that keyword. Not to mention, you’re making 4,800 dollars from 480 customers. Depending on your expectations, that’s really not bad for a single long tail keyword.
By comparison, short tail words don’t have nearly as many conversions. Those conversions are literally scraps when you take into account the percentages of paying customers. The point is, long tail keywords work.
Do your due diligence to research your niche, explore keyword options, and work with SEO experts to optimize your site. Using all of the tools at your disposal gives you the potential to make a huge impact on your business.
Work with Professionals
While you can make a good dent in your search traffic by working alone, there are people out there who understand SEO on a very deep level. There’s no shame in bringing your car to a mechanic, so why shouldn’t you consult an SEO expert? The process goes much deeper than long and short tail keywords.
These are people who will get your site up to speed and keep it there. They can also bring your results up exponentially if you need them to. If you’re interested in optimizing your site with an SEO professional, we have the information you need.