Long Tail Keywords: The Internet Salesman’s Best Friend

Author: April Hall

Internet Copywriter

What is the ultimate purpose of the internet? (Wow-I know that’s a loaded question that could take forever to answer!) For some, the internet is a source of information. For others, it’s a place to interact with friends, play games and enjoy the range of available entertainment. For many of us who work with SEO, however, we have one true purpose for ourselves and our clients: to make money. We want to sell as many of our products and services as we can, and this is done by attracting customers–not just visitors–to our sites.

But, how can we attract those ready-to-buy customers to our site, when there are so many other sites floating around out there? How can we make our businesses stand out and make it to the top of the search engine results page when there are such giants as About.com and Yahoo to content with? The answer is to make use of long tail keywords.

I first head the term “long tail keyword” a few months ago; and although I got the gist of what that term meant, I was still confused about exactly how to write content using them. Did it mean that I had to put the entire string of terms together, without any words in between? Did I have to use the long tail keyword in its entirety every time? Some quick conversations with SEO pros, along with some sample searches, led me to these conclusions:

  • Long tail keywords are one of the most effective ways to draw unique visitors to your site
  • You may break up these strings of words with minor prepositions without causing any major differences to your page’s searchability
  • It is best to use long tail keywords in conjunction with shorter keywords on the same page

Long tail keywords are 3 to 4 word keyword phrases that are very specific to what you are selling. For example, rather than a t-shirt company writing content that targets “t-shirts”, they may choose to target the long tail keyword phrase “funny political t-shirts”. It seems like targeting such a specific keyword would reduce your number of site visitors and reduce your page views, doesn’t it? Well, this may be true, but there are three very good reasons to use long tail keywords anyway:

  1. It makes writing SEO Content much easier. Any content writer is more easily able to write a page of content on “used hybrid cars gas mileage” than they are “used cars”. A more focused keyword content makes for sharper, more focused writing.
  2. It makes it easier to target customers who are actually ready to buy. An internet searcher who is looking for “home security systems company houston” is much more likely to be to the point of actually buying a product than a searcher who simply types in “house alarms”. You may be reaching a smaller pool of searchers, but you are reaching those customers who are ready to close the sale.
  3. It makes it more likely to reach the front page of search engine results. Using long tail keywords means that you will have fewer competitors trying to reach the front page of the search results, because fewer pages have targeted that string of keywords. Big-name sites usually dominate the search result pages of simple, broad searches; but smaller sites that have created properly targeted content stand a good chance of reaching their ideal customers.