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Why Use Long Tail Keywords for SEO

Long Tail Keyword Phrases and SEO Marketing


A simple long tail graph

A simple long tail graphView full-sized image

J Kyrnin

Ever since Chris Anderson of Wired magazine coined the term “long tail” to describe a strategy for increasing profits by selling niche products and services, the idea of long term keywords is something most ecommerce and SEO experts have been focused on.

The idea is that if you create content and optimize for keywords that aren’t as popular as other terms, you will see less competition for the terms and so will ultimately get more page views.

Benefits of Long Tail Keywords

As I mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits to writing content that optimizes for long tail keywords is that these keywords are not as competitive. This means that you have a much better chance of becoming number 1 for that phrase. And becoming number one means that you will get the vast majority of clicks when people search for that term.

Here is a concrete example. Say I want to create a website focused on search engine optimization or SEO. I could write an article targeting the term “SEO” or I could write an article targeting the term “top SEO tools.”

Targeting SEO is very tempting, because it gets over 6 million searches on Google every month. That is a lot of potential page views! But then, when I plug that term into Google, I see that there are already nearly 300 million results. That’s a pretty big group to compete with. While it might be possible to get to shouting distance of the first page on Google, it would take a long time and be very very difficult. And getting to number one out of 300 million choices would be even more difficult.

Then there is the phrase “top SEO tools”. This phrase isn’t very tempting at all because it only gets around 720 searches every month. But it has a much smaller competitive base (51 million results in Google), it is a phrase that I could more reasonably expect to get to the first page of results. And the number one slot gets a significant number of the page views for any given search.

To be even more specific: the first five results on Google snag about 75% of the clicks (source) and first page of links gets 98% of the clicks. This means that only 2% of people click on links after the first page of results. So, if you optimize for “SEO” and can’t break into the top 10 results, you will get no page views for your efforts. But if you optimize for “top SEO tools” and make it to rank #10, you’ll be getting around 19 page views per month. And as the ranking on that page improves, you’ll get more and more. Yes, 19 page views isn’t a lot. But it’s more than zero.

The Secret to Long Tail Keywords

The secret to long tail keywords is not to expect a huge windfall from any one page. But if you have 1000 pages optimized like “top seo tools” you’ll have 19,000 page views per month when you hit the first page of Google. And as they improve in rank, your page views will increase. Remember, that any one page optimized for a long tail keyword phrase might not net you a lot of page views. But they add up.

And once you have dozens or hundreds of articles around different long-tail terms related to SEO, your site is positioned to become a contender for the top ten slot for a more coveted search term like “SEO.”

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