Long-Tail SEOSo what is a long tail keyword?  The State of Search defines a long tail keyword phrase as having 2 properties that I feel sum it up well.  1) It has to be fairly long, at least 3 words and 2) have a low volume of search requests. Long tail keyword terms rarely make the shortlist of ‘referring keywords’ in analytics reports because of their many variations. For example, “snow plow boston” vs. “boston snow plow” would be reported as two separate terms.

This creates a bit of a mixed bag for locally targeted websites, where long tail keywords are used heavily. On one hand it can be a challenge to publish content that targets that long tail phrase, but on the other hand, the visitor referred by it is searching for something very specific and if you’re offering that exact content they’re looking for, they’ll find you and you’ve got a shot at converting that visitor to a customer.

This is especially important when it comes to local search as many searchers are now using search queries that include ZIP codes, city names, and a slew of other business descriptors.  Examples could be something as specific as “master plumber denver co drain clogged”.  Many businesses have been introduced to long tail keywords in the world of PPC, but many don’t think about web site content optimization targeting this valuable traffic.

It should be noted at this point that this is one of the many benefits of a blog.  I do understand that a blog is a lot of work, but the benefits are there.  One of the reasons is that there are so few small businesses that actually keep a regularly updated blog, that you can likely crush your local competition with a little effort – but that’s a different story for a different date.   

How to Target Long Tail Keywords?

  1. Make sure that you refer to the community you are serving using local names  (cities, neighborhoods, and even ZIP).
  2. Write detailed copy that is beneficial to the reader that reflects your services and/or products.
  3. Describe parts, services and brands, keeping in mind what a prospective customer is likely to be searching for.
  4. Create unique content to your business offerings. It’s of no benefit to you with the search engines if it’s content that you’ve copied from somewhere else.

  What about keyword ideas you ask?  Here are a few simple tricks for quick discovery:

  1. Look at the keywords in related searches
  2. Look at the autocomplete in the search field
  3. Review any and all referring data from your Google Analytics. (Under Traffic Sources > Referrals and Search Engine Optimization > Queries)

The value of long tail content is that it converts so well because the searches are so targeted. The end game is to not just show up in search results, but show up for the right searchers at the right time. The long tail referral keywords are the terms that will quite possible provide the majority of your new customers.