Seasoned SEO experts and online marketers know that finding your niche is one of the best tactics to find targeted, relevant search rankings.  Knowing what your customers are looking for in their search engine when they are ready to make a purchase is one of the best things you can spend your time researching.  Consumers late in the buying cycle who are ready to make a purchase are hot commodities – with a little time and effort, we can discern the phrases they’re using to find what they need.

Long tailed keywords are those phrases that are 3, 4 or 5 words long that are very, very specific.   They’re generally used by people late in the buying cycle who know exactly what they are looking for – and are going to buy  it when they find it.   Such highly specific searches are far more likely to convert to sales than general broad-term searches that are usually indicative of consumer research in the early stages of making a purchase decision.

Most websites are likely to receive most of their search engine visitors through a variety of low-volume search queries (long-tailed keyphrases) instead of a handful of major keywords.

Let’s look at an example using one of our clients, a caterer in north Tampa.  Now, conventional SEO optimization would call for writing the website and paying for keywords like ‘catering’ and ‘caterer’ – which might work but will mean they’ll be competing in a sea of other caterers in the Tampa Bay area.   Not only that, but they’ll face direct competition from national chains and really, any other caterer in the world that has optimized for that term.

But, more importantly, people searching for ‘caterers’ or ‘catering’ are generally starting to explore their options;  seeing what’s out there; starting to plan.  They are probably not to the point of thinking . . .

“I’m looking for an affordable local caterer to serve a seated dinner with cocktails at my company’s holiday party in Brandon, Florida in December.”

See where we’re going with this?

When someone is ready to book a caterer for their holiday party (or wedding, or other event), their search terms become much more specific.  This is where optimizing for keyword phrases that are specific to what you’re selling becomes vital — these are the keywords that you can start ranking for and generating traffic and sales right away.

Some ideas for our catering company might include:

  • corporate caterers in Brandon
  • wedding catering Tampa
  • formal corporate catering Tampa
  • fine event catering Brandon

There is far less competition for these phrases (easier to get high rankings) and people using these terms are far more likely to actually make a purchase should they find one that meets their needs.

How do you optimize for long tailed keywords?  Content!  (Did you think I’d say anything else?)  Google love content – pages and pages of content.  So, adding pages that are optimized for your long-tailed phrases makes sense.   These pages don’t need to be completely unique – they can be variations on your main content pages with different H1 tags, titles, meta descriptions, and the content altered to fit your specific long-tailed niche.

Instead of focusing on just two or three highly competitive broad keywords, target the dozens or even hundreds of easy-to-rank-for long tail keywords.

Focusing too much on the long tail keywords can result in dried up traffic though – so beware.  Your site needs balance between less targeted pages for the high number of ‘browsers’ who are just starting their search and then a larger number of pages optimized for your long tail keywords that bring in the buyers.

Consider this:  would you rather be ranked for your one general keyword that brings 100 visitors a day searching for your general industry, or rank for 100 different keyphrases, half of which bring you 1 buyer a day who was searching specifically for you?

So how do you find your long-tailed keywords and then start developing the content for them?  It all begins with research – and that’s where we can help.

Read more about long-tailed keywords: