Depending on how far along in the sales cycle a consumer is, the keywords they use to find products or services in search engines drastically vary.
Statistically, someone “closer to purchasing” in the sales cycle use a very specific array of modifiers such as mfg., make, model number, color of the item or ideal store name and location as well as other specific keywords vs. generic or broad match key phrases to find an item.
This is known as a long tail search engine query, with this in mind, you can target queries using long-tail SEO (optimizing your pages for less competitive keywords with less traffic but higher sales conversion). The concept of the long tail was originally coined by Chris Anderson editor in chief of Wired Magazine in 2004.
The basis is that typical marketing and keyword research only scratches the surface of an industry to acquire competitive keywords with one or two word query to funnel traffic. The only problem with that logic is, most search queries contain 3 or more words using additional modifiers and semantic qualifiers to zero in on a specific item.
Someone searching for information for a research paper may use a very generic or broad match phrase to find information, however, the more specific a search becomes, the less competitive it tends to be as each additional keyword (modifier) reduces the competition for that specific “exact match phrase”.
Instead of dedicating months of SEO resources to acquire an extremely competitive keyword, the logic of long tail search engine optimization is to target all of the semantic and behavioral off-shoots of your main keywords, “the low hanging fruit” to gain a robust online presence across a broad range of themed phrases.
Each word in a keyword campaign has its own buoyancy, peak cycle, and hang time momentum in the SERPs (search engine result pages). Based on (1) the competition for the phrase and what measures other are taking to optimize the phrase (2) The availability of information on the topic, is the topic saturated or is there room for improvement through crafting relevant resources or pages on the subject, and (3) how relevant is it to your content (which is scale through link popularity and content development).
How to distinguish a standard search from a long tail search query
For example, someone searching for “buy a house” (a broad match term) is much less likely to purchase a house because the information provided in the query is general. The lack of specific search parameters about size, number of bedrooms, price range and GEO specific information about region and would result in search results with moderate relevance (which are all likely candidates for a higher bounce rate since the reader, not finding what they intend returns back to the search engine to look for more relevant information).
Whereas the same person searching for a home using additional keywords and modifiers to eliminate unwanted noise in their search result would be more specific such as “400,000 2 BR Condo in (neighborhood) and (City)” would return a very specific range of web pages that have clearly identified those criteria in their on page factors (titles, image alt attributes, internal links, etc.).
Understanding the opportunities that exist for your existing site and mapping the ideal demographics to the ideal search behavior is the appropriate method to find expression for latent keywords with a high propensity for sales conversion.
Most SEO firms are only concerned with general keywords, however the real secret to increase sales without having to focus on dramatic increases in traffic boil down to targeting the right type of consumers with the right message (geared to engage their emotional triggers).
It is through finding the balance between the exotic searches, the obvious candidates and the competitive phrases that one can identify a base of queries that revolve around a specific group of their target audience and then provide multiple derivatives to pad the gap with relevant search results.
Why Should You Target The Long Tail as Well as Competitive Keywords?
According to a conclusive study by Craig Silverstein & Monika Henzinger of Google Inc., Hannes Marais and Michael Moricz, they provided an in depth analysis of an AltaVista Search Engine query log consisting of approximately 1 billion entries for search requests over a period of six weeks. This represents almost 285 million user sessions, each an attempt to fill a single information need.
They presented an analysis of individual queries, query duplication, and query sessions. That also presented results of a correlation analysis of the log entries, studying the interaction of terms within queries. Their data supports the conjecture that web users differ significantly from the user assumed in the standard information retrieval literature. Specifically, we show that web users type in short queries, mostly look at the first 10 results only, and seldom modify the query. To purchase this report, follow the link.
This is primarily just an adjustment to the link building process and can be tailored rather effectively in a short period of time. Instead of targeting 10 keywords, a client can attain 30, 40 or 50 keywords in the same link building and content development cycle to spread the risk over a number of phrases when trolling for new customers.
If you are truly interested in seeing which phrases your website inherently possesses, then a thorough website analysis is in order to capitalize on semantic phrases and potential keyword modalities that already exist and are just waiting for activation to funnel relevant traffic.
The Take Away for Long Tail SEO
The ideal way to leverage long tail SEO is to delve deep into the psyche of your ideal client and think the way they would think and search how they would search. Your goal is to build as many relevant relevant pages that they would find useful and target the low hanging fruit that delivers relevant traffic. This way, your content finds its target audience, they find the items they need faster and it is a pure win / win situation for you, your new clients and your online brand longevity.