Are you sure that you know everything about long tail keywords? Let’s check this out. Maybe it’s time to update your marketing knowledge database?
This article is aimed at covering the most efficient strategies of drawing bags of traffic from the unpopular search queries aka long tail keywords.
Everything Starts with the Definition
Why inventing the wheel if Google is always ready to help us out with any term. So, here’s what you’ll find about the long-tails there.
Have you ever tried to discover the process of finding the long-tails to target? It’s rather complicated, isn’t it? It will normally involve:
- Plenty of manual Google searches;
- Using lots of tools;
- Multiple ‘rinsing and repeating’;
- Endless spreadsheets;
- Long hours of ‘exhaustive’ research;
- Trying to jam these keywords into your header tags and content.
Don’t you think that all those articles are out of date? So just stop wasting your time doing the over complicated manipulations. No doubt that long tail keywords are utterly important for SEO, but these days finding and ranking for them has become much simpler. You will make sure that we tell you the truth as you will proceed with reading this blog post.
Now let’s make another try with the definition.
Long tail keywords are the search queries that have a low individual search volume, but a huge total search demand as a group. Their name comes not from the number of words in the phrase, but from the so-called “search demand curve”, which is a graph that plots all keywords by their search volumes.
Oftentimes, but this is not a must, these keywords tend to be longer and more specific than the ones more commonly searched for.
Most definitions for long tail keywords are incorrect because they are based on some arbitrary length of 3, 4, 5+ words. In truth the thing that makes a keyword long-tail has nothing to do with length, though you will hardly find too many of the 2-word long-tails.
What Really Makes a Keyword Long-Tail Are Two Elements:
- Search volume
This couple actually goes hand in hand because the more specific you get with a search phrase, the less volume there is likely to be.
You understood everything right. Many long tail keywords will have second to none existing search volume. It’s easy to explain that: around 16-20% of daily Google searches are for completely new phrases that have never been searched for before.
Notwithstanding the above fact, targeting your content for long tail keywords is worth your efforts as while individual volumes are low, long tail keywords make up around 40% of all search traffic on the web.
What is the takeaway? Even though individual volume is low, the fact that there is an infinite number of phrase combinations means that the overall volume is high.
Additionally, thanks to their specific nature, long tail keywords can serve great conversion boosters.
The Shift Towards Long Tail Keywords Initiated by Google
We don’t need to spoon feed the search engines with information anymore. They have become smarter.
Google started to understand synonyms and similar words. What does that mean for us? We don’t need to write content for SEO with lots of awkward, unnaturally sounding phrases today.
Would you like to see the live example? OK, take a look at this page.
The web page h1 title is <h1>25 Most Beautiful Places in the World</h1>, so most likely it is optimized for most beautiful places in the world keyword. But it ranks for 628 keywords!
This tells us 2 things about the way Google ‘thinks’:
- Now she recognizes the connection between the words.
- She realizes that if a page is a good fit for one of the keywords, it should be a good fit for them all.
Page analyses results show us that Google recognizes ‘beautiful’, ‘cool’, ‘fascinating’, ‘prettiest’, and ‘amazing’, as similar words. The page ranks for all of them without being directly optimized for them.
How & Why the Above Is Possible
It’s absolutely clear now that Google is able to:
- Group keywords together into topics;
- Understand words with the same meaning;
- Look beyond the ‘words on the page’ when deciding which content to rank.
This information is not particularly new because they have been doing that since 2013.
In August of 2013, many SEO pros noticed an increase in traffic for content rich sites.
This traffic increase was caused by the Google’s Hummingbird (Panda follower) algorithm roll out.
75% spike in search traffic after the rollout of Google Hummingbird.
With Hummingbird Google aimed to better understand the meaning behind queries, rather than focus on matching specific words to content on a page.
Those were hard times for old-school SEOs, who obstinately tried to continue creating unnatural copies for search engines, not humans and didn’t mind the in-depth topics covering.
How to Rank for Hundreds of Long Tail Keywords Easily
From everything said above you have already understood that it is recommended to focus on optimizing your content for topics instead of targeting individual long tail keywords.
As we have explained earlier Google is smart enough to group individual long tail keywords into topics and subtopics.
So, ranking for multiple long tails can be called a byproduct of creating a superior content with in-depth topic coverage.
The days when you had to worry about including every long-tail into your writing if you want to rank for on-page are gone.
And the coolest thing about long-tails is that even though individually they have poor volume when you add them all up, you can get some sizable search traffic.
Do you follow me so far? Then, we will pass to the next section.
Combine Your In-Depth Content with Link Building
The practice also shows that creating extraordinary content is not enough.
You must combine your exceptional content with strategic promotion and proactive link building to reach prodigious results.
By the way, our study of 2 million keywords also found that backlinks continue to be the single biggest SEO ranking factor:
Let’s utter it once again: once you’ve created astonishing in-depth content that covers a topic, you have to build links all the same, if you want to rank in the top spots of course.
How to Create a Super In-Depth Content That Can Rank for Multiple Long Tail Keywords with the Right Promotion?
1. Do Competitor Research
This is your secret weapon in long tail keyword research because you will find out hundreds or even thousands of long-tails your competitor pages are already ranking for.
Here follows the process:
1. Find your competitor’s top content in organic search. You may use your favorite SEO tool for the purpose.
2. Export the discovered keywords for analysis. To view them all, you can export the report into, say, into a CSV file and then open the spreadsheet in OpenOffice.
3. Filter and group keywords into subtopics. What would you prefer to do: try to shoehorn hundreds of these keywords into your content or group them into subtopics, or headers? The second variant, are we right? Please beware that it’s going to be a manual process of running through the spreadsheet and filtering out everything that’s basically the same. It will take you about 10 minutes and you will stay with nearly 20+ keywords out of 300+. But you will still rank for 300+!
4. Make up a new post outline using your grouped keywords as headers. It’s time to create a new Google doc and a post outline. Use your grouped keywords as headers (H2) and subheaders (H3). Remember that these are the main subtopics that Google associates with your parent topic. This means that by covering them all, you will be able to rank for all the variations you found when exported the full list of keywords. And those variations are long tail keywords.
5. It’s time to write up an awesome piece of content. Did you notice that your previous keyword research process made it simple to outline your post and create keyword targeted subheadings for it? Now you can rank for hundreds of long tail keywords without even thinking about them. You surely understand that a list of subheadings isn’t going to rank anywhere. What you need to do is write up each section thoroughly going super in-depth to create a truly one-of-a-kind post. Then you will be ready to move to the final step.
6. Get your post rank!
To get your post rank you usually need to:
- Promote it.
- Build links to it.
You can find lots of articles about link building tactics on the Internet, so we won’t turn aside from our main topic by highlighting them.
But let us mention one more term here to clarify the things even more for you. When you’ll figure out the number of links you’ll need to rank in the top spots using your favorite SEO tool, you will come across the keyword difficulty term.
Supposing you’ll see something like this:
Which means that the difficulty of your keyword is 22 and you will need to build links from approximately 24 sites to rank on the 1st page.
You must calculate keyword difficulty as link popularity remains the single most important ranking factor. However, it is also necessary to manually check a search result before picking a keyword to target. There are many other factors that make an impact on rankings such as content depth/quality, overall domain authority, other on-page factors, so KD score should be used as an initial indicator only.
Now you think that page 1 is certainly a good start, but for real traffic, you want to get into the top 3 results.
So how many links would you need for that? To find this out you can scroll down to the ‘SERP overview’ report.
Most likely you will see that the page at the first position has acquired links from nearly 150 unique domains.
There will also be a couple of pages with links from 50+ domains.
So, you can arrive at the conclusion that if you want to rank in the top 3 positions, you will need to pick up links from around 50 different sites, which is hard but not impossible.
When Does It Make Sense to Specifically Target Long Tail Keywords?
The huge benefit in optimizing your content for head keywords and topics is obvious. But there are always exceptions to the rules. In some particular situations, you might want to create content that specifically targets a long tail keyword.
Why would you want to do that? Because of traffic and revenue, of course. What else can strongly motivate you (if we are talking about SEO)?
Would you like to see the example when long tail keywords become so valuable that it’s stupid not to raise some cash with their help?
Have a look at the following long tail keyword:
With a US search volume of “not enough data to calculate” and a total traffic potential of 800, it doesn’t seem like it’s worth your attention.
But that’s until you figure out that someone searching that phrase is actually looking for the most expensive diamond ring in the world that costs $71.2 million!
Won’t you be happy to sell at least one good of such kind say once a month? Of course, the example is extremely exaggerated, but it vividly illustrates the power of long tails.
If a particular keyword is utterly important to your business in terms of revenue. Then regardless of how small the search volume is, do everything possible to rank at №1.
You can create content specifically targeted to that long tail keyword, then build links to it.
In other words, go for topics over keywords!
Do you agree that the days of exhaustive long tail keyword research came to an end? Are you one of those smart SEOs optimizing your content for topics?
Let us know what you think in the comments!
P.S. If you have any questions about the takeaways or the processes described above, feel free to ask them either.
Latest posts by Helga Moreno (see all)
- How to Get Traffic from ‘Unpopular’ Search Queries [Long Tail Keywords] - October 30, 2017
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