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March 16, 2009

The Quick And Easy Way To Really Understand Long Tail Keywords

Have you heard of the 80-20 rule? Well, an Italian economist called Pareto noticed that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. His work was taken up by others until it entered mainstream thinking. You’ve probably heard variations of what’s now become known as the 80-20 rule, or the Pareto principle. They go like this: we spend 80% of our time with 20% of our friends, or we wear 20% of our favorite clothes 80% of the time.

More generally, of course, it is a common rule of thumb in business: e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” In business, for example, Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% percent of the errors and crashes would be eliminated.

So far, so good. But what if you found out that – where your website is concerned – the Pareto principle didn’t hold up so well? That 80% of your major keywords only account for 20% of your sales? In other words, by focusing on a handful of major keywords you may be missing out on the ‘real’ keywords that prospective customers are actually using to find your product or service.

Most webmasters apply the 80-20 rule: that the top keyword provide 80% of the business, but in practice, this has proved to be the opposite. In other words, the keywords that are most sought after are actually rarely those that provide the most business.

Let me put it another way: your website is far more likely to receive most of its search engine visitors through an assortment of low-volume search queries instead of a small group of keywords. And this means that by focusing on identifying the keywords which receive a lower volume of search queries you will increase in the overall amount of prospective customers from, say, Google, to your website.

What are these keywords? And how will they increase my visitor traffic?

Well, these keywords have become known as Long Tail Keywords. “Long Tail” because they are phrases that are usually made up of more than three words. For instance: “Paint” is not long tail, but “Outdoor paint for wooden shed” is long tail. Or, take “shoes”: “Adidas running shoes” is almost there. But “Adidas running shoes for women” is a long tail keyword.

Can you see the difference between “horse training” and “quarter horse training products”? Here is another example: ‘Credit Cards’ is the general keyword but effective long tail keywords within this niche could include: ‘good low cost credit cards for nurses’, ‘credit cards for people with bad credit’, ‘credit cards with low interest’, ‘benefits of corporate credit cards’, and so on.

The core ideas about long tail keywords is that there is less competition for them, so it’s easier to get a good search engine rankings, and also the fact that people who search certain long tail keywords are much more likely to be potential purchasers. By optimizing your website and delivering content to match these search queries you will be attracting visitors who are searching for specific product information using these and other related search phrases.

And there’s no doubt that long tail keywords are a highly effective at attracting traffic. What’s more important, there are thousands and thousands of long tail keywords which no one or very few people are pinpointing so can easily be utilised.

So here are four key reasons why you should consider using long tail keywords to optimize your website for search engines:

  1. First, focusing on long tail keywords will slowly but surely lead to more search engine traffic because you will have many, many web pages indexed and ranked for specific phrases related to your products or services. This means higher visibility and so a greater volume amount of search engine traffic.
  2. Next, long tail keywords lead to higher purchase ratios. Visitors who come to your site via long tail search queries are more likely to purchase or take up on affiliate programs. By focusing on these long tail phrases, you are actually zeroing in on a vast market of potential buyers.
  3. Third, long tail keywords lead to higher page ranking because of there is generally far less competition. There is so much more scope for variation when you start digging for the phrases that people actually use when they enter search terms.
  4. Finally, using long tail keywords means that your sites have the potential for greater monetization. People who find your site because they used a search engine such as Google or Yahoo are high value for this reason: they are people who are looking for explicit information. So they are highly likely to follow relevant advertisements or subscribe to your blog feed or ezine.

So here’s the nutshell: more long tail keywords equals more potential customers equals more likely sales. Good luck!

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