Most searches are done with more than one or two words. Doing a little research on the phrases people are using to search for your product or service can give you a competitive advantage. Welcome to the long tail of SEO.
So what does “long tail” mean? The term has been around for awhile but gained prominence in 2004 when Wired editor Chris Anderson published an article about how internet companies like Amazon and EBay were gaining revenue from older titles collectively making up about 40% of their business.
How does this relate to SEO? SEO has adapted this term to describe adding more words to your search terms to increase success for an SEO campaign. This change in philosophy is basically because one or two word searches don’t work anymore for SEO.
Keep this in mind, when someone starts a search they have a purpose in mind. (Maybe some people like to just see what is out there but we’re not concerned about them.) Google understands there is a purpose for your search which is why when you search “bike shops”, for example, your first organic results will be bike shops around you. Google makes an assumption that you are looking for the location of a bike shop. Inversely, if you search “how do I replace a chain on a bike?” because Google assumes you are looking for instructions or information, you are more likely to find links to deeper pages in websites and perhaps some videos that have been viewed or liked several hundred times. This is an example of the long tail at work.
By focusing on longer search phrases, like “how do I replace a chain on a bike?”, the competition for those terms drops dramatically. The result is higher rank on the page. Going back to people are searching for a purpose, you can capitalize on the purpose of a search. What information is going to help your customers or potential customers the most? What are some of the solutions you can offer? Do you have tips or tricks you can offer to make life easier for someone? These are all things that people search for.
As an example, if you sell pink bikes, you are going to have a hard time being at the top of the search results considering there is a pinkbikes.com and Target, Walmart and Amazon dominate that page. However, if you apply a long tail solution to this, “pink bikes for adults” and “pink bikes with baskets and tassels” are much less competitive. Believe it or not, they are related search terms for pink bikes which means people are searching for those items.
The idea is to do some research. It would be great to be at the top of a one or two word search but in many cases it is nearly impossible. By using a long tail approach you can have several pages of your website rank well and ultimately drive better qualified traffic to your website as you are solving the exact solution they need.
The other thing to avoid is a “knee jerk” reaction and spend hundreds of dollars on AdWords and questionable SEO techniques. In the end, you could really be wasting money. Your best bet is to form a strategy, implement, measure, revise as needed and repeat. There are very few overnight successes with SEO and as always, slow and steady wins the race.