Long Tail Search Engine Optimization Strategies
If you haven’t yet read the book, The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, you’re missing out on a fascinating book about how markets are being more and more niched and fractured. The tagline of the book is “Why the future of business is selling less of more.”
One very real application that the book has is in the world of search engine optimization. Back when search engine were far less mature and the search engine user was far less sophisticated, most people would search for information by typing in a single word or two word phrase. The websites that were at the top of the search engines for those phrases got the bulk of the traffic.
However, today the search engine user is far more sophisticated. They know more about what they’re looking for and they know how to use the search engine to get the most relevant results that they’re looking for. For example, a search that 7 years ago might have simply been “real estate” is now “make money investing in apartment complexes.” While the second term might generate a lot less traffic than the former, it is almost certainly a higher quality visitor who is probably more serious about investing and willing to spend money on your site if you have exactly what they’re looking for.
What that means to you, the website owner, is that you need to focus on providing more specific and detailed information to your visitors to get traffic. You also need to start offering a wider variety of products to meet the demands of today’s more sophisticated customer.
When it comes to optimizing for these “long tail” phrases, there are some challenges involved. First, there are so many long tail terms that will bring in a small amount of traffic versus the few primary terms that will bring in a lot of traffic that most people will just focus on the primary terms and ignore the long tail side of things.
That is a huge mistake because the long tail searcher is likely more likely to be the person who is likely to spend money at our website and also getting ranked well for long tail terms is far easier than it is to get a top 10 ranking for primary terms. If we look at our “real estate” example, the average Pagerank of a site on Google’s first page is a 7. Conversely, for the term “make money investing in apartment complexes” typical Pagerank is about 3 and there was no one who was optimized for the exact term so getting ranked would for that phrase would be extremely easy.
In my own business, long tail search engine optimization is the area I focus on. I’d much rather have a little traffic from a ton of low traffic phrases than I would from one or two primary phrases. Sure, as a search engine optimization expert, getting a top 10 ranking for a difficult term is a nice feather to put in my cap, but I’m much more concerned about actually making money than stroking my ego.
You see, if I have one or two phrases ranked in the top 10 of a search engine like Google that’s bringing in nearly all of my traffic and hence revenue, then if I lose that ranking, my earnings are going to plummet. On the other hand, if I have 500 terms that each bring in just one or two visitors each day, then if I lose one of those rankings, I won’t even notice the difference in traffic.
Let me who you some traffic stats from two websites that I’ve been working on lately. The first is a website devoted to pet snakes. This site has excellent rankings for its primary keywords, including a #1 ranking in Google for the term “pet snakes.” This ranking does bring in a fair amount of traffic to the website, but if I look at the actual stats, I can see that 65% of my visitors are using terms that aren’t listed by this stats program. Each term may only bring me 20 or 30 visitors for the entire month, and some may only bring on one visitors a month, but because there are so many of them, over 1000, that traffic greatly exceeds the traffic I get from being ranked #1 for the term pet snakes, and to be honest, I’d much rather be ranked well for those 1000 or so long tail terms than I would for pet snakes. And to be honest, when my site went from being ranked #3 in google for pet snakes to #1, the jump in traffic was hardly noticeably because I get such a large portion of traffic from my long tail keywords.
On another site I’ve been helping to build on the topic of camping, the long tail traffic is even more pronounced. The site has a top ten ranking for the term “camping tips”, but only a small portion of the overall traffic on the website comes from that ranking. In fact, 85% of the traffic to the website comes from long tail phrases. Why? Well, on this site, we devoted a great deal of time to developing content that I would consider to be expert quality. If you read the articles on the website, you’ll realize that not only were they well researched, but they were written by someone who an expert on the subject matter.
That’s one thing you really need to focus on when building websites now – expert quality content. You may not be an expert on the subject yourself, but you can almost always find someone who is an expert to write the content for you. The reason you want someone who is a subject matter expert is because they will bring up topics that you wouldn’t have though to include, but are related to the subject.
For example, when I was building a site about guitars for a client, I hired a guitar player to write the articles and I actually had her select a lot of the topics because while I’m good at keyword research, a guitar player is more likely to know what topics are relevant to guitar players than a keyword research tool.
Once you’ve got the expert quality content on your website, the other important factor in ranking well is that your website has sufficient authority. What I mean by that is that your website has a lot of quality one way links pointing to it. Try not to focus on getting links to your homepage, but rather focus on getting links to your expert quality content pages. The more links you have to these pages, the more top ten long tail rankings you’ll pick up for that article. It’s not uncommon for a high quality article to have 20 or more top ten rankings for long tail phrases and it doesn’t take long for all those phrases to add up to more traffic than if you were ranking well for the primary keyword of the article.
So to recap quickly, the future of search engine optimization is really going towards long tail optimization since the visitors are of higher quality and you’re less likely to see all your hard work undone by the next algorithm update. Getting ranked well for these terms is relatively easy as long as you focus on having expert quality content on your website and if you focus on getting quality links to your pages.
That’s long tail search engine optimization in a nutshell. It’s the focus of my work as an SEO expert, and if you’re really serious about making money from free search engine traffic, you’ll stop worrying about getting that top ten ranking for “real estate” and you’ll start focusing on the long tail phrases that are where the real money is.
Want to learn the secrets of long tail search engine optimization, then visit my website at LongTailSEOSecrets.com for a complete guide to Long Tail SEO.