What Are Long-Tail Keyword?
You might have heard the expression 'Long Tail Keywords' before, but what exactly are they? Officially, they are keywords that use 3 or more words(some people say 2 will do). However, for our purposes, since most keywords contain at least 2 or more words, let's describe them as keywords that target niche markets, as opposed to mass audiences.
Still confused? It's ok! Let me explain. Imagine that you want to target the keywords: 'New York Taxi'. Now, probably you'll find that this is extremely difficult. After all, the competition is massive! However, when you do your keyword research, you might find that the keywords: 'New York Local Taxi Locations' is much easier to rank.
Now, clearly, there is a reason why it is much easier to rank for the longer-tail keyword. Fewer people look for it. It is a niche term, one that appeals to a small sector of the net audience. Obviously, the term 'New York Taxi', being generic, is designed to appeal to mass audiences, and will get more traffic...and more competition. So, why would you want to target a long-tail keyword that will have less search queries?
Reason Number 1: Easier To Rank
Clearly, most people will be targeting the shorter keyword. After all, it is far more popular. However, it's strength is also it's weakness. As mentioned, it will take a long time, and massive effort, to rank for that keyword. However, the term 'New York Local Taxi Locations' is much easier to rank for.
Believe it or not, this weakness in that long-tail keyword is your strength. If you were to target that, you would get two great advantages. Firstly, you would get more organic traffic, why? Imagine that 'New York Taxi' gets 10k searches a month. Now, 'New York Local Taxi Locations' gets only 1k. Not good? Wrong! If you were number 1 on Google for 'New York Local Taxi Locations', you might get 500 searches a month. However, if you targeted 'New York Taxi', which gets 10k searches, and you are on page 5, you might only get 200 searches a month, since there are so many ahead of you!
Still not convinced? Consider this snippet from Moz.
"This means if you had a monopoly over the top 1,000 search terms across all search engines (which is impossible), you’d still be missing out on 89.4% of all search traffic. There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles."
Reason Number 2: It's Where Google Is Heading
A 2nd benefit relates to the fact that Google has expanded it's 'exact match' keywords to now include close variants. This means that keywords now include synonyms and miss spelling. Those close match keywords will obviously also include long-tail keywords, since they are close matches to the exact keyword phrases.
These close match keyword changes by Google started some time ago with plurals, misspellings and close variants, However, recently, it has expanded to synonyms and re-ordering of the words. Can you see how this will benefit your use of long-tail keywords?
Yes, Google is moving away from things that pander to search engines, and moving more towards natural flowing language. This includes long-tail keywords. And, as stats show, they make up the very best of search engine enquiries. Therefore, you simply cannot afford to be avoiding the use of long-tail keywords.
How To Use Them
The first thing you need to do is to identify what long-tail keywords will benefit your site. A great tool is the Google Keyword Planner. Simply find the keywords that are similar to your exact match keywords.
Following this, you need to optimize your site for those new long tail keywords. Use Squirrly, Yoast, or any other plugins to optimize the content for your new keyword suggestions. Whilst it may not be possible to get 100% all of the time for optimization, try to get as many 'green lights' as possible. Some of the SEO plugins will allow you to enter more than one focus keyword, so try to optimize for a few long tail keywords.
By now, the benefits on using these types of keywords should be clear. As Google moves more and more towards 'natural speech' language, long-tail keywords should get more and more prominence. Use them in your articles, and your traffic should increase, your rankings should rise, and, your returns should skyrocket!
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