In Search Engine Optimization – more is better, right? Wrong. While you might think you want to target those specific, highly searched terms – you might be wasting your time AND money. The thought of ranking for a term with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of monthly searches might appeal – but it appeals to lots of others, too. That means it’s competitive. We’re going to look at why targeting niche long-tail keywords might be what your business needs to take the next step.
What is a long-tail keyword?
A long-tail keyword is one that contains a the main niche or product with something stuffed on the beginning or end. Rather than just “cell-phones” (hugely competitive), think “cheap cell-phones” (still very competitive), “cheap Sony cell-phones” (getting better) – or “cheap refurbished Sony cell-phones” (yes!). You can take this as far as you like: “cheap refurbished blue android Sony cell-phones”.
This makes the whole term more targeted and will probably mean it gets fewer searches. This is a good thing – and we’re going to look at why.
Why are long-tail keywords better?
Of course, if you CAN rank on the first page for a highly contested short-tail keyword – you’ll probably be on to a winner. But the reality of doing this is so time-consuming and difficult that you’re probably better off putting more effort in elsewhere. In fact, the amount of time and continuous effort it might take to rank for a hugely competitive short-tail term could be better spent throwing up 20 long-tail niche sites.
Going back to the cell-phone example – those people who searched for the longer term REALLY want that specific type of phone. If you can make yourself an authority in that tiny niche, you’re getting a load of highly targeted, motivated buyers dumped right on your doorstep. Only YOU can provide EXACLTY what they’re looking for.
How to get even more motivated traffic with specific long-tails
There’s another reason why those super-short super-competitive keywords aren’t that great. Tons of that sort of traffic will be looking for a free ride. Or they’ll be nowhere near ready to buy something.
To make sure you get the right sort of traffic that’s easier to convert – try adding things like “discount”, “review” or “cheap”. If someone wants a discount, they know they’re about to spend at least SOME money.
Even adding something like “scam” to your keyword can work. This might seem counter-intuitive but it’s one of the last things people search for before they buy something, especially an online product or service that they might not have heard of much before.
Here’s one long-tail additions to avoid: “free”. These people aren’t looking to spend money. You’d rather they wasted someone else’s bandwidth than yours.
Hopefully you’ve now seen how thinking outside of the box and going after longer, more targeted keywords could be a recipe for success. These keywords ARE more niche – but that’s a good thing. They’re much easier to rank for on most search engines, and while you WILL be getting less traffic – it should be the type of traffic you want.
Why your ranking matters
As you probably know, if you can’t get on the first page of Google results – you might as well not even bother. Research suggests that 11th place will get you just over 1% of clicks for that search term. In fact, even getting 10th place on the first page isn’t that much better – with an average of just 2.71%. It shows just how important the first few places in are – with first place getting up to 34.55% of clicks for that term.
If you try and rank for a term that gets 100,000 searches a month – it’ll take you a lot of time and effort to get to the first page of results. If you ever manage it. Let’s say you make it to 11th spot within a couple of months of hard work. That would equate to just over 1,000 clicks.
Alternatively, you could target a term with only 10,000 clicks. This term should be much easier to rank for, requiring much less work. Let’s say you manage to get to 2nd on Google within a similar two month period. That would equate to about 1,700 clicks for approximately the same amount of work.
Now you can see how a bigger piece of a small pie CAN be better. What’s great about this example is that it shows you how targeting niche terms could be more profitable. What it doesn’t show – is that some of those niche terms actually filter your visitors for you by providing more of those that are ready to spend money.
Those 1,700 visitors have found your site with an “active” keyword like “discount” meaning they’re closer to spending money than those 1,000 visitors who just searched the broad term. As you can see – that makes targeting niche terms even more appealing.
About the author
Keith has years of experience advising people on internet marketing issues and how to rank better in search engines. He also writes for tuition agency in Singapore.