What Are Long Tail Keywords and Why Brands Should Care

Sarah Stevens
By Sarah Stevens

When discussing SEO, it is painfully obvious just how vital it is for a company to rank on Google’s page 1 (not to mention the top of page 1) of the search results. It is estimated that Page 1 rankings on Google average a 36.4% click-through rate, while page 2 rankings only receive a 1.5% click-through rate. As such, if you are a small or medium-sized business in a world of massive companies such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon, trying to capture even just a sliver of the market may seem a daunting task.

Distinguishing your business online, especially a small business, from the throng of larger companies, clamoring to be first in search results, is a difficult feat that becomes an even more arduous task in crowded and oversaturated online markets. Two prime examples of established markets with heavy online competition are phone accessories and home decor. I’m sure you’ve already thought of a few companies (in addition to the ones mentioned above). So in these cases, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is even more vital, especially if you don’t have the brand awareness of the giants.

Simply competing with a powerhouse like Amazon does not indicate the end of your business. So, if you ask me “Do I stand a chance against big brands online?” My answer is, “Yes, but…” Now, I know we all hate those, but hear me out because of the “but” matters. It can be possible to not only participate but also to excel, even in saturated markets, with a strong SEO strategy and patience. The SEO aspect we will dive into below, but first I have to emphasize how important that latter piece of advice is. If you want to go toe to toe with the largest companies on earth, it will take time (and two months is not enough). There are no quick fixes, no immediate gratification in the world of SEO. It’s the long game.

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A strategic SEO plan takes six months, if not more, to see real and meaningful results. That said, if you trust my advice by creating and sticking to a long-term plan, you can succeed. A recent client, a cell phone accessories company, followed our SEO strategy and within six months, they were ranking on page one with Amazon and BestBuy for target keywords. Furthermore, they were able to rank at the top of page one.

Now, there are many components to what makes up a good SEO strategy, but what I’m delving into today are long tail keywords; why you should care about them and how to utilize them in your business. This blog is not another “what is a long tail keyword” post – a quick google search reveals there are already a number of those. But instead, how using a solid strategy and long tail keywords can help you compete and impact your bottom line.

What Is A Long Tail Keyword

Long tail keywords, as their name would suggest, are longer, more specified keyword phrases that customers are more likely to employ when on the verge of purchasing an item/service. It is a way of refining or clarifying what you are looking for by distinguishing it from the broad category. For example, it is the difference between typing, “Air Jordans” and, “Black and White Air Jordan Retro 1s.” Consider the results you get for the first and the second example. Simply searching “Air Jordans” would give you hundreds of thousands of results since there is such a large variety and so many retailers trying to sell them.

Therefore, if you are a smaller company that sells shoes, you will likely not ever reach the top of an organic search for “Air Jordans” due to the sheer volume of competitors. However, if you specialize, distinguish yourself in your market, keywords such as the latter will help you find customers looking for a specific product. By narrowing down your target audience with specific keywords, you filter out those people who are not looking for what you are selling. Naturally, you will attract less traffic with a long-tail keyword than you would with a more generic one, but the traffic that does come through will be more valuable and more likely to convert. Targeting the longer, more specific keywords with lower search volume has value. Brands can and should be using this to their advantage.

How Long Tail Keywords Impact Your Bottom Line

More than two-thirds of all Google search traffic is from long-tail keywords. Despite this, many brands are not focusing on this. Why? Because they have the brand awareness, massive marketing budgets, and have already built up a large customer base that comes to them specifically for what it is they are selling. They know to compete with other large brands, they need to focus on those top volume keywords.

The most important aspect of utilizing long tail keywords is they must, I repeat, must, align with your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). In other words, they must be in alignment with that which separates you from your competition. For example, when we worked with the cell phone accessories company, their USP was discount and variety. Their identity was cheap prices and a plethora of options, so we tailored the long tail keywords to reflect this, and because of that, they were able to drive new customers who were looking for those options. (Note, the marketplace has shifted and even more brands are competing, and thus our strategy shifted as well.)

As mentioned, long tail keywords help you discover those hyper-targeted customers, who have narrowed down what it is they are looking for. Because of this you as a business face lower competition. While there is apparently less search volume in sheer quantity, there is far less competition in those spaces. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen brands make time after time is not pursuing these hyper-relevant keywords because of the low search volume.

Consider the following: would you rather have 100 potentially relevant and qualified customers visit your website who are engaged and interested, or would you prefer 1,000 customers who do not even click on your search result, and even if they do, they are less likely to purchase your product/service? While some may argue that you could retarget those customers, would that be cost effective?

We also know that Google has been and will continue to pay more and more attention to user metrics such as your click-through rate, bounce rates, and more; they’ve already taken the first step with page speed becoming a ranking factor as of July 2018.

TL;DR

Long tail keywords are part of a strong SEO strategy and have been proven to do the following:

  • Help you rank in competitive spaces
  • Combined, they can dramatically increase your impressions
  • Target valuable traffic – the right customers searching for your specific offering which results in a higher click-through rate

The benefits of a well thought out long tail keyword strategy is crucial to carving out your niche in the market. Keep in mind, this is not an instant fix and requires a strategic, targeted approach and patience to boost your rankings.

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