This is an update on a popular post from 2020.  Though the studies referenced have aged a bit, the overlying theme is still the same, if not stronger. The best route into competitiveness for a small business is to focus on these long-tail keywords with more specificity. Too often people dive into SEO expecting to rank for the broadest and most competitive terms right away. The path to success for those terms may be very long, but there is a way to succeed in the short term if you do it with strategy.  Moreover, long-tail keywords tend to be more effective at converting. With the evolution of the Google algorithm to more “helpful content” and specific content for user intent, creating content for more specific searches will tend to lead to a better ROI anyway, and get you more traffic sooner.

The most obvious long-tail is the geographic targeting modifier, but you can explore many long-tail options from FAQs to types of solutions for your product or service.  It is still a fundamental piece of small business SEO.

A number of recent studies I have shared recently have given business owners and small business SEO experts like myself a chance to read between the lines and adjust our strategies.  Combining recent studies like the Banklinko study I shared on social media yesterday and a recent update to a great and in-depth guide to targeting long-tail keywords by ahrefs underline a tactic and strategy I have been doing for quite some time, and that you should be doing as a small business. I want to go over the basics here for you and if you want to dive into the details, you can check out that ahrefs post, or call us and let us help you get your plan going, as we have been doing it for a long time. So let’s get to it.

long-tail-keywords-search-volume-distribution ahrefsLong Tail Keywords Are About Search Volume and Not Necessarily Length of the Search Phrase

The ahrefs study found that over 92% of searches average less than ten searches per month. The core concept of the “long tail” idea is on search volume and not necessarily phrase length. Though it is true that longer phrases, in general, may be searched less often than shorter ones, it isn’t always the case and the long tail idea is more based on search volume. There are many low-volume but specific phrases out there that have much lower competition, which gives you an open door to target them. The Backlinko study shows how much more improved the user experience seems to be with Google. People are happier with their first search than ever. I believe this to be a combination of Google providing better, and more specific results, and searchers searching for more specific things.  Because of this, Google is giving more pages the opportunity to rank for specific and lower-volume searches.  You need to begin creating pages of content addressing each of these opportunities. It can really add up.

Building Long Tail Content Around a Central Service Builds Your Reputation

By continuing to create good long-tail content, you are not only getting the opportunity to snowball your traffic by ranking for many lower volume terms, you are boosting your site reputation as a resource on the subject area.  With good information architecture and internal linking, Google will see your site as more of an authority, and all of the supporting content can link back to your broader content and strengthen that page for the more general queries.  It all builds on itself.  Content is King. More good content providing good answers to search queries around a specific subject establishes your site as a trusted entity in that subject area.

Of Course, More Specific Searches Tend to Be Closer to Buying

On top of the idea that lower volume terms are less competitive, more specific searches tend to be closer to conversion.  For example, someone searching for a “black 2017 Honda Accord” is most likely closer to the buying step than someone searching for “used cars”, even though there is much more volume for used cars. If you can create great content for all of those specific searches, you are attracting traffic that is more ready to buy.  Of course, this is the best traffic to get. I always stress measuring your conversions because traffic volume doesn’t matter if they aren’t buying.  Focusing on the traffic that is buying is important for a good SEO plan. Then it isn’t just about more traffic, but more buying traffic.

AutoComplete and People Also Ask Can Be Great Research for Content Ideas

DIY SEO Competitive AnalysisWe have lots of tools to help our clients decide what to blog about or create content for, but as a business owner, there are free options as well. Autocomplete in Google search is a great resource. In fact, Backlinko said users use autocomplete 23% of the time when searching.  Do some research and just go to Google and start doing searches around your product or service offerings. Write down all of the autocomplete terms that come up and then go write good content to answer those searches. That is a great first step if you don’t have the funds to hire an SEO to get advanced analytics on competitive metrics, etc.  Google loves to show “People Also Ask” (PAA) questions in the search results as well. Just start writing good content around what your customers are asking. There are typically a few PAAs offered with any search. If not autocomplete or PAA, even consider what your customers ask you when you talk with them. If one customer asks, there are probably many that wonder.  These are all long-tail keyword opportunities.

If you do decide you want help with all this, however, give us a call. We have been doing it right for over 15 years.