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Is There Value in Long Tail SEO?

long tail SEO

You know that most people don't have a lot of time when they search for something on the internet. In our fast-paced modern culture, people expect to put a word or two into Google and get relevant results in a split second. And it usually works. This means the competition for those keywords can be incredibly high.

Would you also benefit from considering long tail SEO, which means you shift your focus to longer keyword strings that go into a bit more detail? While you may intuitively want to target the most common search terms, you'll find that niche terms can also play a significant role in your overall SEO strategy.

An Example of Long Tail SEO

If you're not familiar with long tail SEO, imagine that you work in the hotel industry. You run a hotel in Washington, D.C. Since it is a popular tourist destination, you have tons of competition for common keyword strings like "Washington hotels" or "hotels Washington." It's not that you don't want to use them, but you do not rank near the top and you constantly have to keep fighting for the spot you do have.

With long tail SEO, you can pick more niche keywords that use three or more words in the string. They're far more specific. This is where you must take a creative approach. In the hotel industry, that may mean picking a nearby tourist attraction. For instance, you could use "Washington hotels" and then combine it with "Washington Monument" or "Capitol tours." You know that people who are looking for lodging are likely going to see the monument, tour the Capitol Building or engage in other such tourist activities.

The downside here is that you are being far more specific and cutting out some of your potential audience. You don't care if someone is there to do sightseeing or go on a business trip, but now you have keywords targeting tourists over business travelers. You also get less traffic because, as noted above, people tend to stick to the simple, obvious keywords when running a search. That's why you face such stiff competition.

The advantage, though, is that the lack of competition also makes it far easier for you to rank at the top of the search results page. Did you know that 33 percent of people who run a search never click past the very first link? The vast majority of people never leave the first page. If you're not there, you're not getting traffic. Using the popular keywords could get you buried as everyone does the same. Using longer keywords may mean less overall traffic, but your click-through rate could be massively higher.

Is that a worthwhile trade? It absolutely can be. Would you rather have 1 million people use your keywords and find yourself low on the first page or would you rather 1,000 people use those keywords and around 330 of them click on your site immediately? You may find that long tail SEO draws in far more overall traffic even when your keyword analysis tools indicate that the search totals for those strings are very low. Ranking highly can prove more important than ranking for more people overall, depending on the competition you face in that space.

Understanding Your Options

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong here. These are just two different options to target two different audiences. Every industry is distinct and you need to take an approach that is best for yours. However, this shows why it is so important to know all of the search engine optimization options that you have. You need to work carefully to craft a plan that works for your industry, that gives you the best chance for success. Search engine optimization may get complex, but the right content strategies can give you the edge.

Jonathan Schlosser

Posted on 25th October, 2018 by Jonathan Schlosser

About Jonathan Schlosser

Jon Schlosser is a professional writer and SEO specialist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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