• Robin Kastengren

Six Reasons Small Businesses Need Long-Tail Keywords



Keywords form the foundation of your SEO strategy. Ultimately, these words and phrases should be what people searching for your products and services type into a search engine like Google. According to Moz, if you boil everything on your page down to simple words and phrases, those are your keywords.


Why Keywords Matter


The concept may seem simple: include the words people will use to search and you’ll drive traffic to your website. In a nutshell, that’s the plan, but there needs to be a bit more thought behind the strategy. First, the most basic and obvious words are going to be very competitive. If you own a shoe store, trying to rank for “shoes” or even something more specific like “winter boots” is going to be nearly impossible as you’ll be competing with everyone on the planet selling shoes. Companies with big budgets can rank for these words by spending a tremendous amount of cash on a content marketing blitz along with plenty of paid search ads. The rest of us have to try another path.


The other reason why your keyword strategy needs some thought is that the most basic and obvious words can also be very ambiguous and, therefore, not very helpful to you. For example, if you operate a sports equipment shop, you may want to rank highly for “bats” in the summertime to capture the baseball fans. You might also get a ton of traffic from nocturnal mammal enthusiasts, too. If you’ve got a ton of money to blow, you might not care that half the traffic to your website is useless. The rest of us, however, need our dollars to work a bit harder than that.


Enter the Long-Tail Keyword


Long-tail keywords are essentially strings of words or phrases rather than one or two words. The best ones will have some intent behind them, or some task the searcher is trying to complete. For example, if someone is looking for a baseball bat, she might type “best baseball bat for left-handed children.” That is not only a very specific phrase, but it also suggests that the searcher will probably purchase a bat if she can find one she likes.


On the one hand, a search so specific will not appeal to a broad audience and won’t attract a huge stream of traffic. On the other hand, a search so specific will not appeal to a broad audience and, therefore, won’t be as valuable, competitive, or expensive to try and pursue. It will take considerably less effort to rank highly for “best baseball bat for left-handed children,” and “bats” or even “baseball bats.”


For small businesses, ranking for long-tail keywords can help you get a toehold in the search results and start getting some profitable traffic to your website while you’re building your site’s overall SEO value. It’s a long game, to be sure, but it’s an inexpensive game that will pay off with patience and persistence.


6 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Long-Tail Keywords


  1. Less Competition. The less competitive a keyword is, the easier it will be to reach the top of the search results, and you’ll spend less getting there.

  2. Effectively Drive Traffic. Ranking highly for one long-tail keyword probably won’t do much to boost your traffic. However, if you target one main keyword and support it with a robust list of related long-tail keywords, you’ll see results.

  3. Better Targeting. Back to the bats: I’d bet that nocturnal mammal enthusiasts are cool people, but they’re not useful to your business unless they’re also on the market for baseball bats. Long-tail keywords are too specific to snag the wrong people.

  4. Better Conversions. If the traffic you’re getting is highly targeted and arriving after searching for phrases with some intent behind it, you’re likely getting people who are ripe for action.

  5. Niche-Busting. Some niches are so competitive it can hardly seem like a niche at all. Long-tail keywords will help you break through the competition from the back and side doors. Plus, if you’re ranking fairly well for a direct keyword, your efforts to target long-tail phrases will help preserve and boost that rank.

  6. PPC Ready. Pay-per-click advertising can be extremely expensive for competitive keywords. The cost to acquire a single customer can be well out of the range of small businesses. Long-tail keywords are less competitive so they’re less expensive. Plus, they’re so specific and tend to have better conversion rates so your ROI (return on investment) will be much more palatable.

Work That SEO Magic


Targeting long-tail keywords means creating lots of high-quality content that contains those words or words that are similar enough in meaning. Google and other search engines are getting really good at semantic search, or attempting to understand the searcher’s intent rather than relying on exact-match of search terms and words on web pages. What that means to you is that you don’t have to fuss too much over getting the phrases you’re targeting onto your pages verbatim. That way, you’re free to make the content read normally for a human being while knowing you’re still working that SEO magic.


To make the most of your long-tail keyword endeavors, start where we always start: with your audience. What do they want? What are they searching for? How do they ask those questions? Think about all the people who use Siri, OK Google, Alexa, and other assistants. We tend to ask them complete questions as if they were people, and that’s how you should be constructing your long-tail phrases, too. In other words, put yourselves into the shoes of your customers, act natural, and be patient and persistent and you’ll find the way.




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