One of the most neglected notions about SEO is that most websites gain traction from long-tail and mid tail keywords. Even though you may want to rank for the most competitive keywords, is it worth the time, energy and effort vs. using keyword research and ranking for dozens if not hundreds of less competitive keywords with higher commercial value?
We are often confronted with challenges such as this with multiple clients, such as wanting to rank for the most competitive keyword but they (a) have a dated site platform or architecture (b) have no authority within the search query space (c) no relevant internal links or (d) not enough content to push other more optimal sites aside to take their spot.
So what do you do in this instance?
- Consumer Type: Identify the type of consumers which would best suit your short-term and long-term ranking objectives.
- Mid Tail to Long Tail Keywords: Find targeted mid-tail and long-tail keyword modifiers (by using the link wheel, related search) and other less traditional keyword research methods.
- Creating Appropriate Landing Pages: Identify or create critical landing pages for conversion.
- Mapping out Keywords for Conversion: Create a solid base of new content based on keyword research using a wider array of keyword variations to gain more stickiness in search engines.
- Second Level Push / Link Insurance: Create a method for producing secondary exposure and / or ranking factor for the new content.
- The Litmus Test: Measure results and conversions, then rinse and repeat.
Consumer Type: Ideally, you should focus on consumers further along in the sales cycle instead of the broad match keywords “like the root phrase” which represents consumers searching for something the first time or using the query for informative purposes instead of commerce.
For example, what is the likelihood of someone buying a car from searching for the word “car” vs. using a search query that includes the “make, model, color or year” as a modifier instead?
You can see the importance of this tactic in conversions as you target the more appropriate keywords which deliver those interested or motivated consumers to the appropriate destination on your website which in turn deliver a higher degree of user engagement and content consumption.
The longer a person stays on your website, the more likely a conversion will occur if your pages pass the litmus test of trust triggers, appealing design, have a strong call to action or have impeccable grammar.
Mid Tail to Long Tail Keywords: Competition exists and unless you have a large budget and a year to spend dethroning a competitor or the top 30 competitors who occupy the helm of a particular keyword or key phrase, then targeting a less competitive variation should be a natural part of your SEO Strategy.
I have written extensive posts on keyword modifiers, targeting the long-tail or how to target multiple keywords simultaneously in the past (follow the links provided). So, the need to be redundant is not necessary, so, I suggest you read those for further elaboration on each topic.
Creating Appropriate Landing Pages: While this is a given for most, the need to create unique and individual pages for specific keyword variations should not be overlooked. You could easily write a book on the topic of creating landing pages that convert or how to structure which elements should be prominent on those pages. Once again, referred to posts from the past (in the link above) for further elaboration are in order.
Mapping out Keywords for Conversion: This is the first step in any SEO campaign, without having a firm direction, it will be impossible to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign or establish key performance indicators as baseline benchmarks.
Using SERPs along (search engine result page) positioning is only one metric, you can also use things like bounce rate, engagement time, page exit rate, sales conversions, sign ups or subscriptions as a baseline to determine how effective your methods are and what types of results the new keyword variations are producing.
Here are a few posts covering the topic of keyword research and some of the less common ways to conduct keyword research to find treasure troves of low hanging fruit that can deliver more traffic than a mid-tail or top level phrase when aggregated in tandem.
Second Level Push / Link Insurance: Using other web 2.0 properties, article marketing or RSS feed aggregation, it is possible to build deep links to (a) your new pages and (b) to other web properties to create a holistic ecosystem of referrers to your preferred landing pages.
This second level push should be equally as encompassing and thorough as your initial push and provide a stream of targeted anchor text and or visitors (based on the authority of the sites used) to further your primary web properties position in regard to total market share for the keywords in question.
The Litmus Test: Even some of the most elaborate strategies fail. It is not how elaborate or well thought out the plan is, it is how it is executed and how scalable and repeatable it is that matter.
Instead of getting caught up on the processes alone, implement them, test them, keep the ones that work and dismiss the less effective techniques. SEO is a work in progress and with metrics changing daily, you can never second guess which techniques (that worked in the past) have been filtered out from making their mark in search engines.
The basis of quality, unique content, engaging copy, benefit rich value propositions, great web design, straightforward navigation, a suitable volume of supporting copy from various related keyword clusters (using internal links to pass value to preferred landing pages), refined usability and solution oriented persuasive writing are the perfect complements to SEO.
Just don’t ignore the long tail, realize that even though they may have entered with one keyword, that interest is pliable and the consumer may change in mid stream and explore other areas of your site.
People are complex creatures that transcend typical psychological patterns when shopping, as long as your site has all of the proper trappings, engagement is assured. Just don’t make them think too much or try to force the viewer through goading them or insulting their intelligence.
Let them decide, place the necessary signals in place, but leave the choice to them. As a wise teacher said to me once, don’t force, allow…
So, allow users the same choice when engaging your content, otherwise, all the SEO in the world won’t matter if they bounce.