In a nutshell, Long Tail Keywords are lesser searched phrases (usually at least 3 words long) searched for in search engines but when many combined together, they result in significant levels of search traffic – potentially more than a single main term.
Here’s an example:
A site selling widgets. It may be obvious to SEO for terms such as “widgets” and there may be thousands of searches for this term but you can be sure there is loads of competition too. This generally means that SEO is likely to take longer to get the levels of traffic you’re expecting and thus, cost you more.
You might want to consider optimising for searches such as:
- red widgets Lincolnshire
- large blue widgets
- red widgets accessories Lincolnshire
- ladies pink widgets
All of them much more specific than the term “widgets” but much less competitive. This means with less competition, these keywords would rank faster and if you are running a PPC Campaign, you’ll pay less on your keyword bids too.
What Are Long Tail Keywords
If you look at your website analytics you shouldn’t expect to see the majority of your traffic coming from 1 main search term. This shouldn’t even be the intention for the following reasons:
- Dependency- 1 search term sending the majority of your traffic would cause huge problems if for any reason you lost ranking on that term (it happens!)
- People search in different way, you should optimise your site around variations of terms to cast the net as far as possible
- Vanity search engine rankings might look good (Hey i’m number 1 in Google for Widgets!) but being number 1 for 1000’s of variations of this term too would be much more advantageous. Good rankings don’t always guarantee good traffic.
- Relevance: if users search for a very specific term such as “Mens Green Widgets” and land on a page about “Mens Green Widgets” the visitor is MUCH more likely to convert due to the high relevance of your website page in relation to their search keywords.
Being an SEO for over 10 years, there’s been many occasions where clients have been blinkered by the prospect of ranking at number 1 for their main term, and sure, that should always be the intention but it shouldn’t be purely for “number 1” status, it should be part of a wider strategy that involves your website being ranked for 100s and 1000s of keywords.
An effective SEO campaign should not just focus on a handful of vanity keywords but take a more holistic approach and cast the net much wider by attracting lower competition keywords that will cover a broad range of search terms, rank faster (due to the lower competition) and provide a quicker return.