Seducing search engines with Long Tail Keywords is something to consider when you’re writing copy. You know what I’m talking about, copy that waits for passing search engines then beckons, “Hey, Mr. Search Engine, Over Here, Over Here – I have exactly what that searcher is looking for!” Long tail search terms are important to know about and important to use – in certain situations. Here are some basics:
What the heck is a Long Tail?
Long Tail terms are longer and more specific1 phrases than short tail keywords, usually consisting of 3 or more keywords. For instance, here at Next Day Flyers we sell printing which is a short keyword. However, within printing we also have postcard printing – still a short-tail phrase. But within that category we sell “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” – which would be considered a long tail term.
Why would you want to use a Long Tail Term?
1. Build SEO Traffic
Using long tail keywords can be an effective SEO strategy for building traffic.2 Why? When you target the shorter keywords there is a lot of competition so you’re much less likely to rank up high on pages such as the Google results pages. For instance, in our above example on searching for printing – the keyword “printing” on Google kicks back 168,000,000 results. Wow. And when you search for “postcard printing,” a slightly longer tail term, the results drop to a mere 1,560,000. But, for the long tail term “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” the returned results drop considerably to 5,050. The fewer returns that show up, the easier it is to get yourself to the top and be seen by more people.
2. Less Competition on PPC and Greater Chance of Conversions
If you’re running a Pay-Per-Click campaign you know that the really high volume words are much more competitive so they can cost you a bundle to have your ad appear. Plus, the searchers you get may not be as high quality when you’re talking about conversions. Why? Someone who does a search for “printing” is just starting their investigation into printing so they are only at the beginning of their buying cycle or may also be looking for something about printing that has nothing to do with your company. On the other hand, that consumer who types into Google “UV coated 4×6 postcard printing” is most likely trying to decide who to buy from which means they are much further along in the buying cycle; so you have a much higher chance of getting your conversion.
When Not to Use Long-Tail
Bloggers who are trying to make money with their blogs – beware the long tail! Ever heard of the power law? You probably have and just didn’t know it – the rich get richer. “Because of the power law, the long tail of the blogosphere is huge and so any individual blog is not easily discovered. The chance that a random Internet surfer will find a blog that is part of the long tail is nearly zero.”3 As Brian Clark, of Copyblogger, put it “You can make money on the long tail but not in the long tail.”4