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The Long Tail: How to Optimize Your Website for Conversions

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What is Long Tail Keyword Optimization?

Long tail keyword optimization involves optimizing your content around long tail keywords.

A long tail keyword is a longer and more specific keyword or phrase of three or more words that your prospects are more likely to use when they’re closer to buying or when they are searching by voice.

People who use long tail keywords tend to be at an advanced stage of the buying funnel and know exactly what they want. 

For example, a user that enters a specific search query such as black ralph laurent polo shirt with big pony is more likely to have more commercial or buyer intent than a user that simply searches for polo shirts.

Shorter keywords are also a lot harder to rank for, which is why optimizing for the long tail keyword gives you a better chance of appearing at the top of an organic result than if you optimize for the ultra-competitive “polo shirts“.

There are hundreds of polo shirt brands.

If a user simply types in “polo shirt”, if you’re running an AdWords campaign, you may not want to bid for this keyword because you may not carry the particular polo shirt the user is searching for, leading to a wasted click, enough of which can become very expensive.

In fact, you may want to add such keywords as exact match negatives.

This is because you want to make sure that the traffic you’re paying for has the highest chance of converting.

The more information in a search query, and the longer tail it is, the more we can learn about the commercial intent of the keyword.

Long tail keywords almost always have a higher click-through rate, a lower cost per conversion, and a higher engagement on your website than broader, short tail keywords.

Furthermore, once you’re ranking for the long tail keyword, you will naturally begin to rank for related and much shorter keywords.

Although you may initially attract less traffic by optimizing for long tail keywords, the traffic you will be attracting to your site will be more targeted, focused, and commercially driven, ultimately generating a much higher return on investment (ROI) than shorter keywords.

According to Neil Patel, using long tail keywords as anchor text and titles or subtitles in your blog give you a ranking bost over simply including them in the body.

Broad vs. Long Tail Keywords

Broad search queries are typically used by searchers who are at the beginning of the buying cycle.

Searchers who use broad keywords are usually just starting out their research.

These search terms are usually searched on much more often than specific keywords.

However, conversion rates tend to be low for these types of keywords because searchers are typically at the awareness or research stage of the buying funnel.

You would typically use broad keywords if you have branding goals in mind, and are more interested in getting as many eyeballs to your site as possible rather than converting traffic.

Examples of broad keywords and phrases:

“greeting cards”

“kids toys”

“used cars”

On the other hand, searchers who use long tail keywords in their search query already know exactly what they want and are in a more advanced phase of the buying funnel.

These keywords are not searched on that often and may not be as popular as broad keywords.

However, conversion rates tend to be higher because searchers that use them are usually ready to buy.

You would use specific keyword phrases if you are more interested in conversions than getting as much traffic to your site as possible.

Examples of long tail keywords and phrases:

  • How much does a vintage christmas greeting card cost?
  • Where can I buy a Victoria Beckham handbad in London?
  • What does a vintage Christmas greeting card cost?
  • Where is the best greeting card store closest to me?

When creating long tail keywords, you’ll typically start with one or two-word keywords or phrases, also known as “core” or “seed” keywords.

Core keywords typically have lots of search traffic and are far too competitive to optimize for.

For example, if you are trying to write content for your affiliate site that promotes educational toys, your core keyword would be something like “toys”.

But if you optimize your site for such a vague search term, you would be wasting your time since you would have no chance of ranking for it because Google’s front page for this keyword is dominated by big brands with massive budgets. 

In addition, it would be difficult to figure out the intent of the searcher, as people who use such words may have all sorts of motives.

On the other hand, a more descriptive and specific long tail keyword such as “educational toy for three year old girls uk” clarifies the intent of the searcher.

The searcher is looking for educational toys for three year old girls, and is based in the UK.

People who use these types of keywords have already completed their research and are more likely to convert.

It is not too difficult to come up with more specific, longtail keywords.

However, how many people are searching for this keyword?

Even though the search term might be relevant, if you are simply speculating on what people are typing in to search for your products or services, you’ll be guessing and could be making a big mistake.

This is because the actual number of people searching in that context could be too low to bother optimizing for the particular search term.

This is why you need a keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro. The Long Tail Pro keyword research tool allows you to find unique long tail keywords in minutes. One seed keyword can generate hundreds of suggestions. You can also search for multiple seed keywords.

With this tool, you can find keywords with high traffic and little to no competition, most of which have multiple search results ranking with no links.

Advantages of Optimizing for Long Tail Keywords

Keyword Targeting

Targeting long tail keywords simply means choosing a particular long tail keyword, and then writing content to address the user intent behind it.

In other words, you’re focused on understanding the intent of the user that uses that search term in their search and what problems or challenge they are experiencing.

Targeting these keywords in your content will attract engaged visitors who are interested in what you’re selling.

The key to improving your organic search ranking for your target keywords is developing a content marketing strategy that involves long tail keywords that your target audience uses to search for your products and services.

This will ultimately attract organic traffic that converts for the goals of your site.

If you use the wrong keywords to optimize your website, you will not reach or attract the right audience.

Increased Conversion Rates

Visitors who use long tail keywords when looking for information tend to have a higher conversion rate than other visitors.

Generally, the longer the search query, the lower the search volume and, therefore, the lower the competition.

In their own right, long tail keywords may not generate many searches, but when combined, they tend to attract a lot of relevant and likely-to-convert visitors to your website than more general keywords such as “flowers”, “roses”, “mens shoes”, and “leather jackets”.

The natural benefit of targeting specific keywords consisting of three words or more is that when you start to rank and get traffic for the longer keyword phrases such as “where is the best book store near me,” and “which book shop is open right now”, you will naturally begin to rank better for shorter versions of the keyword phrases, such as “book store,” “book shop,” and “buy books.”

Semantic Search

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm made the development of content that speaks directly to your target audience and directly answers specific questions they might be asking, an absolute priority.

In order to rank your content on Google search, rather than finding out the best keywords for your website or web pages, it would be much more effective to figure out the many different questions your potential customers may ask, and provide subject-relevant, meaningful and detailed answers that specifically and directly answers those questions.

It is extremely important to anticipate the many different questions your customers and potential customers may have, and deliver insightful, meaningful solutions to those customer questions across social platforms including your blog, social media and other relevant communities.

If you are highly focused on addressing the specific needs of your audience, your content is more likely to rank according to the Google Hummingbird algorithm.

Essentially, long tail keywords are probably some of the simplest types of keywords to optimize for, mainly because you will not see as much competition for these types of keywords as you will for shorter, more competitive search terms.

In addition, because the searcher is using such specific terms rather than more generic keywords, it is very likely that they have completed their research and are now ready to buy.

Lower Advertising Costs

Long tail keywords are even more valuable for users who are running paid search advertising campaigns because the cost-per-click is lower due to less competition. In fact, you can get higher ad placements and much cheaper clicks.

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