» Advanced SEO » The long tail – keywords you really do want to rank for and why

The long tail – keywords you really do want to rank for and why

Long Tail Keywords

So you really want to rank highly for a keyword but you just cant get there. Really annoying isnt it?! I wonder how many site owners forget to pick up all the loose change on the way to the pot of gold (so to speak). The reality is we’d all love to have those big keywords right at the top of Google (and im pretty good at doing it) but even more traffic and revenue is to be had from all the keyword variations that are much easier to rank for and which, accumulatively generate more visitors and business.

Focussing on maximising these ‘long tail’ keyword opportunities is a favourite strategy of mine and often it can blow clients competitors clean out of the water. By building out pages and often whole new directories gives a site so many more opportunities to rank well and outrank the competition.

Lets look at a made up example of how it can be done.

Wonder Widgets

Wonder Widgets, sells, you guessed it, widgets. They specifically sell green, red and blue widgets. They focus all their SEO attention trying to rank for ‘widgets’ and also ‘red widgets’, ‘blue widgets’ and ‘green widgets’. Makes a lot of sense, of course it does. Whats more they do a pretty good job of getting all these keywords to page 1 or 2. Brilliant, good for them.

Wizzy Widgets

Wizzy Widgets also sell widgets (funnily enough), although they only sell red and blue ones. They do a pretty good job of getting the obvious money keywords to page 1 and 2 also. Nice. But they also do something smart. Their SEO guy realizes that alot of people search for ‘cheap widgets’ and similarly ‘cheap red widgets’ and ‘cheap blue widgets’. They create a new directory which, for this simple example contains just 3 pages: /cheap-widgets, /cheap-red-widgets, /cheap-blue-widgets. These pages are SEO’d adequately and hey presto they start ranking for keywords such as ‘cheap widgets’ ‘blue widgets’ and variations like ‘where can I buy cheap widgets’. Their clever SEO guy also realizes that alot of people search for the specific makes of widgets e.g. ‘john smith widgets’ ‘joe bloggs widgets’. Wizzy Widgets retails both John Smith and Joe Bloggs widgets so they create another directory which consist of 3 pages; /makes-of-widget, /makes-of-widget-john-smith, /makes-of-widget -joe-bloggs and guess what they start getting alot of traffic via searches such as ‘john smiths widgets’!

The example above is very simplistic but should help you get the idea of how to optimize the long tail and why its important not to rely on a very small number of category or product pages to generate traffic. Id like to throw in some words of warning and advice though when constructing additional directories:

  • The pages need to be unique, especially in a post Panda/Penguin environment. Its no good your red widget page being identical to your blue widget page bar a couple of word changes. Thats asking for trouble.
  • *Site architecture is really important with category/directory pages. You want to try and get as much link juice to your additional pages as possible. That can be really hard to do.

Additional benefits of building out directories for the long tail:

  • More pages and more traffic means you’re going to get more links. Sweet. Even better this will actually help you rank for those big money keywords by increasing the overall domain authority of the site.
  • People tend to search for multiple phrases before actually buying e.g. pansonic tv, cheap panasonic tv, lcd panasonic tv. By ranking for an increasingly diverse but very targeted  set of keywords you’ve got more chance of being seen more than once, and theres a whole bunch of benefits to that. E..g maybe they saw you for your money keyword ‘panasonic tv’ but didnt click, now they’ve seen you for ‘lcd panasonic tv’ and they think “hey these guys must be big in the world of panasonic tv’s, I better visit their site’.
  • Interlinking potential. This gets a bit complicated but lets say you have 10 product pages that link to your /cheap-red-widgets page and your /cheap-red-widgets links to your /cheap-blue-widgets page you;re really helping getting link juice around to your important pages. See my above note on site architecture*, its really important to get that right.


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