Unleashing the Power of Longtail Keywords

Mastering keyword research might just be the single most profitable skill for any small to medium business owner with a website.

That’s a bold sentiment. But, considering this skill means the difference between arbitrary visitors and highly targeted traffic, it’s no overstatement.

What if there was a way to get that highly targeted traffic with minimal marketing spend in your PPC campaigns?

Well, there is. And it starts with the longtail keyword.

According to Internet Live Stats, 16% to 20% of search terms used every day have never been searched before. Ever.

Why is that important to you as a business owner? Because there are fresh, buyer keywords out there with virtually no competition.

What is a longtail keyword?

A longtail keyword is a search term that’s a longer version of its more obvious root. Simply put, it contains more words and, consequently, is more specific.

Let’s see an example.

Example root keyword: “staffing agency”

Example longtail keyword: “seattle staffing agency for construction jobs”

Now, “staffing agency” is a somewhat generic keyword searched by tens of thousands of people every month. This is the so-called “fat head” of the keyword.

Many staffing agencies would love their PPC ads to be displayed on page for the search term. Consequently, there’s a lot of competition and the cost per click is high.

The quality of search results produced by Google and other search engines has increased significantly over the past few years.

As search engine capability improves, people’s confidence in these services grows, producing more creative keyword choices as a result. With a wider variety of keywords used than ever before, it’s a great time for PPC ads.

The Advantages of the Longtail

There are three primary benefits of the longtail approach:

1. Highly qualified traffic

Sure, everyone loves traffic. But, if it’s not targeted traffic, it won’t convert. The greater specificity outlined by longtail search terms means you get traffic looking for what you offer specifically.

2. Lower competition

Less competition affords you greater control over bid costs. Furthermore, because there are hundreds of variations (as illustrated in the graph above), there’s opportunity to find golden longtail keywords no one’s ever found before.

3. Higher quality score

Quality score is a dynamic metric assigned to you by Google that checks the congruence of your ad copy, keyword and searched query. Because longtails are more refined by definition, your quality score goes up. And winning Google’s favor is always a good thing.

How do you find longtail keywords?

A good starting point is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s free and illustrates the fundamentals effectively.

The main problem to know is the fact that so many people use it. And that includes your competitors…

Because it produces exactly the same keywords for everyone, so many people with the same results means more competition and a higher cost per click.

Google has produced an excellent step-by-step guide Keyword Planner features here.

What’s the best match definition to use for longtails?

Google’s Keyword Planner offers multiple match definition options for your ads. They are:

● Modified broad match

● Broad match

● Phrase match

● Exact match

Because longtail keywords are all about specificity, the last thing you want to do is use a broad match.

For example, if you use a 5-word longtail such as “Seattle staffing agency for construction jobs,” you’ve just taken the time to narrow that down as a low competition longtail keyword with a reasonable search volume.

With broad match selected, there could be hundreds of variations, most of which would have either a low search volume or a higher cost than you’d budgeted for.

You can read more about the different match definitions here. But the important thing to remember is to always use Exact Match in your longtail efforts.

Tools and tips to find longtail keywords

There are many ways to pan for longtail keyword gold, and honestly, it’s largely down to practice. However, here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:

● Use a Broad Match campaign from your PPC report to find additional keywords people search for

● Consider thematically related keywords. Simply put, come up with keywords along the same theme as your longtail. For example, “premium” could be “best” or “designer”.

● Use Google Autosuggest for a glimpse into the history of longtail keywords others have typed in before.

If you find this process a little tedious, Ubersuggest is a great browser tool for the job.

● Look at Google Analytics to see what terms previous website visitors used to arrive there.

● Use Google Webmaster Tools to see which queries your website shows up for so you can optimize accordingly

It’s all about time management

The important thing to know as a business owner is the following: while the longtail approach is incredibly effective, it can also be time-consuming.

If you were to optimize a series of individual landing pages for your 5-word or 6-word long tails, you’d spend an incredibly long time writing content.

Sure, traffic would be targeted and the conversion rates high, but the volume would be low. And that means an awful lot of landing page content to write. As a rule of thumb, one or two studies have shown that the drop-off point tends to be when keywords get longer than 6 words or more than 40 characters.

Start some longtail experiments today

A longtail keyword strategy should be a core part of your PPC marketing. It’s not without its downsides, all of which we’ve outlined for you in this article.

Once you develop a knack for tracking down low competition, high converting keywords, it’s an incredibly rewarding way to see maximum return on investment from minimal marketing spend.

Originally published at www.discovercloud.com.

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