What are long tail keywords and how do they work?

LONG TAIL KEYWORDS – WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN

Long-tail keywords are those three- and four-word phrases that are very, very specific to whatever it is you’re selling. You see, anytime a customer uses a very specific search phrase, he tends to search for exactly what he’s actually going to buy. In virtually all cases, these very specific searches are much more likely to convert to sales than general, generic searches that tend to be geared more toward the kind of research consumers typically do before making a purchase decision.

To help illustrate this phenomenon, let’s take a look at the typical step-by-step shopping path a customer takes to make a purchase.

1. The consumer becomes aware of a product.

2. The consumer searches for information about that product in preparation for a possible purchase.

3. The consumer evaluates the alternatives to the product (features, price, etc…).

4. The consumer makes his purchase decision.

5. The consumer takes out his credit card and completes the transaction.

6. The consumer then evaluates the product after purchasing it and decides whether to keep it or return it.

Using the above six-step path to a purchase as our model, you can probably already see that you want to target the consumer somewhere around step four…
The consumer makes his purchase decision.

…because once they’ve made the decision to buy something, that’s when they start using very specific search phrases to search for their target purchase.

Now the good news…
Highly specific multi-word phrases tend to be much easier to rank for than single keyword phrases or more generic keywords.

Here is a specific example. Let’s say your site sells mountain climbing tours in British Columbia. At first, you might consider targeting a generic phrase like trip. After all, an adventure tour is generally the type of excursion that people like to participate in while traveling on vacation.

However, if you were to try to follow that phrase, you would be facing direct competition from really big sites like Trivago or Tavelocity etc. You get the idea… It’s unlikely you’ll be able to take down any of those sites unless you’re willing to invest a lot of money and a mountain of time.

But more importantly, traveling isn’t the best phrase to aim for anyway. This is because many people who search with that phrase are looking for things like airline tickets, ocean cruises, or just doing some very general research on where they would like to go. They’re probably not saying to themselves… “I’m looking for someone to sell beginner guided tours to climb Grouse Mountain while I’m in Vancouver so I can take my family on a fun adventure this summer.”

If they were, they would be getting into more than just traveling.

That’s the concept of long-tail keywords…
Here are some very specific key phrases that relate to customers who are much further along in the buying cycle, at least step three, probably step four, and possibly step five:

• Hiking tours in British Columbia

• beginner mountaineering in BC or British Columbia

• Guided mountaineering excursions

• Family climbing excursions on Grouse Mountain

Of course, these are just a few examples. I’m sure you can think of many more. However, the point is twofold;

1. Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for.

2. People who search using long-tail keywords are much more likely to become buyers!

More good news…
Of course, this suggests that you should create pages that target hooked searchers using long-tail keywords. And, since there are potentially so many different long-tail combinations search engines can use to buy what you offer, that means you’ll probably build more pages.

Well, the good news is that Google likes sites that have more pages. It makes the site appear more substantial, more natural, and even more real in the eyes of the world’s most popular search engine. Keep in mind that your “unique” pages only need to be variants of your main offer(s) but focused on a specific long-tail niche.

So each and every page will have a unique title, description meta tag, h1 header tag, and body content that emphasizes your offer by using the long-tail keyword you choose for each specific page. It’s not rocket science, but it sure works well to engage consumers at the optimal stage of the buying process!

So, instead of just focusing on two or three highly competitive general keywords, aim for the dozens or even hundreds of easy-to-rank long-tail keywords.

However, also keep in mind that the downside of focusing too much effort on the long tail is that if you target phrases that are too specific, you may not get enough traffic to sustain your business. That’s why it’s better to have:

• some pages that send you large amounts of less targeted traffic, and

• A large number of pages, each sending you small amounts of highly targeted traffic.

But in general, it’s better to think of it this way; Would you rather rank for a keyword that sent you 1,000 visitors per day or 200 keyword phrases, half of which sent you 1 buyer per day?

After you do the math, you’ll see that 100 buyers is much better than 1000 site visitors who are just doing research. And there is no doubt that the use of ultra-specific keywords demonstrates a greater purchase intention on the part of the customer. This simply leads to more sales which is of course what you are really looking for.

I hope this is useful for you to refine your digital strategy!

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