For small companies who are just getting started in SEO, thinking about keywords and trying to understand how the search engines work is very important. Keyword research should be the foundation of your SEO campaign when you’re trying to position yourself in your market and for the search engines. Keywords are, at the end of the day, how people find you and your content because it’s how Google is organized and how it indexes the entire internet. This is how the search engines ultimately decides who to rank, who to show, and how to bring that traffic to your web site.
First, you need to know your audience. Think about how they might search for you and what keywords they might be using in that search. This, in turn, can help you to decide what type of content you’re generating in your SEO efforts. The more relevant your content/keyword selection, the better chance you have of getting in front of that target audience to maximize your current content generation efforts.
What exactly is a long-tail keyword?
Before we understand long-tail keywords, we need to understand broad or “head terms”. Head terms are those shorter phrases such as “auto repair” or “plumber”, or “doctor”. These terms are typically very competitive because there is a TON of search volume on these keyword phrases. But, if we add more terms to those broader “head terms”, our competition gets smaller AND we then become more focused on the type of search engine traffic we want to generate.
Here’s an example of a longer tail phrase…
We used the example of auto repair as a “broad” or “head term”. A long-tail phrase, instead of “auto repair”, might be “Honda Accord brake repair”. So instead of just “auto repair”, which is very general, you can actually get more specific, adding the make and the model and then a specific service that you provide. Going one step further, if you’re a local business, you might even want to add onto that that you are the best Dallas, or Galveston, Texas company that does brake repair for Honda Accords (so honda accord brake repair dallas, for example).
This becomes so important because larger, better ranking websites out there in your market or even nationally have strong domain authority and probably get a lot more organic traffic than your normal, main street businesses. They’ve already gone out and optimized their websites for the more competitive keywords and they’re able to rank on them. So for the company with the smaller website, who’s very local, and very specific, it makes no sense from a budget standpoint to try and match up with the sites that are better optimized for these smaller phrases. Nor, do you really want to rank nationally on the term auto repair. You don’t really want to be taking phone calls from California for someone who wants to fix their brakes. You want local businesses. That’s the idea behind the long-tail keywords. The data speaks for itself:
So, what about those shorter, broader terms like “auto repair”?
This is where Google Adwords is a great tool. You can supplement your organic SEO efforts by starting a small campaign that focuses on those broader terms in a small geographic market (your backyard). Instant first page results, pay for clicks, a good balance of paid and organic traffic.
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