If you have delved into a new business venture or attempted to market new products and services online, then there is a good chance that you have hit a brick wall or two when trying to get your website ranked high enough for people to actually see it. It can be very easy to lose your resolve or become jaded in the face of a digital marketing campaign because achieving a ranking that gets your website on the first page of Google and other search engines is becoming harder than ever. In fact, the latest (but far from the last) algorithms being rolled out by Google are causing search engines to examine blog articles much further in depth regarding their context and intent to determine their relevance regarding the subject matter in addition to the amount of keywords being used within it.
It can take hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars spent on a focused SEO marketing campaign to compete for rank with the most general of primary keywords and phrases (words such as restaurant, auto repair shop, grocery store, etc.), which can become even more discouraging. The enormity of it all is enough to make even the most resilient business owners want to throw their hands up and get out of the digital marketing game forever. However, know that even if you are running a small startup business that you can still stay at the forefront of the digital marketing game (and SEO in particular) by making full use of long-tail keywords.
Unlike general keywords such as the ones described above, long-tail keywords are a bit lengthier and are aimed to target a certain demographic with a far greater level of intent. For instance, the long-tail cousin of a general keyword phrase such as ‘restaurant’ might be ‘Italian restaurant in Indianapolis Indiana’. Such keywords are far less expensive to market with for high search engine rankings and the chances are that you will see those ranks climb a whole lot faster. In addition to the lower prices for pay per click advertising, higher ranks equate to higher click through and conversion rates, which in turn equates to more customers shopping on your website and in your brick and mortar location.
Sounds easy right? Use specific keyword phrases and in the end, make more money!
This is a good generalization of what you want to see happen, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, you will still need to figure out how to locate the best long-tail keywords that fit your business and the overall strategy for your digital marketing campaign. Moreover, these keywords (and the content behind them) will have to convey some real passion and intent on your behalf to your customers, because when they look your business up digitally, your content is the only tool you have that can speak for you!
Not only can picking bad keywords send the wrong message to your customers, but by using the wrong keywords in the wrong context or with little intent behind them, you will only confuse search engines and never gain rank. Worst yet, you could be labeled as practicing black hat SEO (even if it’s by accident). This means being permanently banned from search engine rankings altogether, something no business owner wants.
Fortunately, we have some suggestions to help you find the most relevant long-tail keywords for your business and avoid bad search engine mojo!
First, you should consider using Google Suggest. This is one of Google’s most productive tools for SEO and best of all, it’s built right into the search engine browser window. All you have to do is visit Google.com or if you are a Chrome user, use the browser window at the top of your screen to start typing in any primary or general keyword into the search box. You will see as you type that a box appears underneath with several long-tail variations of your keyword. In addition to auto completing your keyword with possible choices, Google Suggest also has built in Geographical Awareness, creating greater relevance to the variations it displays based on your location. Better yet, the results you get from each query are always based on phrases that real people using the search engine are actually typing as they relate to your field of business.
This is an ideal way to put some quality behind your SEO, but it’s only a start!
There are some other great keyword research tools out there that you can take advantage of. Perhaps the most recognizable and comprehensive of these is the Google Keyword tool in their Adwords software, but there are others not made by Google that also work well, such as UberSuggest, Wordstream’s Keyword Tool, and Soovle to name a few. You should try them all! Remember that every keyword tool is going to put a slightly different spin on the long-tail variations it comes up with for your base keywords and you will want as many as possible for your future marketing endeavors.
After you have identified some potentially great long-tail keywords to use for your digital marketing campaign, you will next want to get some analytics regarding their validity. Using a tool called a keyword referrer, you can mine for those analytics by getting the numbers on the top traffic driving long-tail keywords as well as seeing where your possible entries rank in the list. From your detective work, you might learn that the bulk of the long-tail phrases you picked are great candidates, or that they have not been targeted at all. Either way, you will walk away from your query knowing what your best SEO candidates are.
On a similar note, if you rely heavily on pay per click campaigns as well as Google AdWords, you can also mine data relevant to these formats from search query reports just as you would using a keyword referrer. Like with referrer searches, you will get data regarding the popularity of keywords and ad concepts, except they will all be centered around click through rates and conversions specifically for paid advertising mediums rather than for organic search results.
Now, consider thinking a little bit out of the box…
So, you mine for keywords, analytics, and paid advertising data to help create some relevance surrounding the SEO phrases you will be implementing in your future digital marketing campaign, but have you stopped to think about what everyone else is doing in this vein, including your top competitors? You might be surprised at some of the ideas for long-tail keywords you can get by simply poking around on other websites. To do this, you will want to start with your direct competitors, but then, you should branch out into a few other areas.
For instance, it is worth having a look at some of the websites that are fueled by fluffy content mill articles that are so general, they border on black hat SEO. Why, you ask? The reason is that while these websites, such as eHow.com, Chron.com, or Ask.com may not publish articles that have great or terribly relevant context behind their content, they are masters at utilizing powerful keyword placement, including those of the long-tail variety. By ignoring the content and simply focusing on the SEO portion of the article, you may gain some insights you otherwise would not have found.
Some other great websites to hit in order to get some keyword inspiration include Q&A sites such as Answers.com, Yahoo Answers, or Quora, as well as Wikipedia. All of these websites rank amongst the highest in the world for a reason, (and it isn’t because they have earth shattering content). Study their on-page optimization techniques, look at the type of primary, support, and long-tail keywords they use, and then put that knowledge to good use with your own efforts.
Inquire, Apply, Repeat!
Remember that long-tail keywords and the content you publish that contain them represent another medium that allows you to communicate to your customers. In order to forge lasting relationships based on real trust with those customers, you must put intent behind your words and be committed to continually publishing relevant and engaging digital content. And you need to do it every day! The digital marketplace is just another playing field for the conversations that drive the business world. The arena might look vastly different, but the game at its core has hardly changed.
The context of your digital content will give you the chance to speak passionately to your customer base about any subject matter that is important to your business. The keywords within your digital content will send a far more targeted message to potential customers who are searching with intent regarding a particular subject matter. You can put as much time and money as you want into building a slurry of blog articles, launching massive PPC campaigns, firing off infographics, and making endless social media posts. You could make the same investment in creating a massive stock pile of long-tail keywords that are weaved into related ad groups and organized for simpler research and application, and even set benchmarks to track and measure all the results that come from your digital marketing campaign so that you can continue to tweak your efforts and make them better. However, know that your efforts will always fall short if the message itself is wrong. Find that message by using every tool at your disposal to locate the most insightful and relevant long-tail keywords, communicate them with intent and passion to your audience, and then, you will see just how powerful your digital conversations can be!