Long Tail Search - Big Fish

Or how to be a big fish in a small pond

Try this activity: On a piece of paper, make a list of 25 words or phrases people use in search engines to find you business, or companies like yours. If you are like most people, your list will contain short phrases like  furnace repair, small business marketing, hardwood floor designs. If you check your keywords using  the Google Keyword Tool, you probably have a pretty good handle on the correct words to be including in your blog posts and primary web copy.

But no matter how often you type these phrases, you will probably miss about half the possible Google searches. Why? Because more and more people are using complete phrases in their search. Instead of typing “furnace repair,” they may be asking Google, “Where can I find someone to repair my furnace? ” or, ” How do I repair the pilot on my furnace?” These longer, more language-based searches are becoming more of the norm. I have seen estimates as high as 60 %-70%  of all searches are now these niche or long tail searches.

This trend is both a challenge and an opportunity for small business owners and companies with relatively new websites.

The Challenge

It is impossible to anticipate every possible question when people are free to type in anything in the search engines.

The Opportunity

Longer, more specific keywords  have lower search volume  so they are less competitive to rank for. While it would be almost impossible for a new website or a small company to rank on page one or two for a term like “hardwood floor,”  they might do quite well with longer phrases such as “how to keep hardwood floor looking new ” or “what are the most durable hardwoods for floors?”

The other benefit in pursuing long tail keywords is that the content is easier to write, because the title or search phrase answers a more specific visitor’s need.

How do you find these obscure long tail searches? It’s easier than you think.

  1. Start with your analytics. Take some time and dive in to your keyword report. Buzz past all the variations of your name and the obvious keywords and you will find the obscure question or keyword someone used to find your site. For Roundpeg, the phrase “marketing org chart” kept popping up, so I wrote several blog posts  on the topic.
  2. Take advantage of Google Suggestions and Related Searches. Start typing your phrase into Google’s search bar. As you type, Google tries to anticipate what you’re looking for, sometimes revealing some interesting phrase ideas.Remember, this tool is fueled by what other’s have already looked for. After you run your search, scroll to the bottom of page one. There you will find more related searches and more potential blog topics
  3. Listen to your market. Pay attention to the questions people ask when you chat with them. They are asking Google those same questions. Can they find the answers on your website?

The other benefit of actively pursuing long tail search is the fact that these phrases also contain the shorter, more competitive phrases. As you build authority for the longer phrases, you are building authority for the shorter phrase as well.

The bottom line? Google values content marketing, giving credit and authority to sites which are rich in interesting content that answers the questions people are searching for.

photo credit: joshstaiger via photopin cc