Are you a small business owner with a limited marketing budget? Do you have a beautiful website but find it hard to attract visitors? Then you probably need to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)! SEO is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy. It can drive natural traffic to your website. And it is a proven way to help small businesses succeed. Most importantly, unlike advertising, SEO is free. You do not need to pay for anything! In this article, we’ll focus on a very targeted SEO strategy called “long tail keywords”. This guide is written specifically for small business owners. If you do not have the budget to hire a marketing expert or a SEO agency, this article is for you. Want to learn the secrets of SEO and get free advice? You are in the right place!
Before we begin, let us talk about the concept of search engines. When you visit search engines like Google, you type a question or keyword into the search box. Then the search engine magically replies with a long list of links to web pages that could be relevant to your question or keyword. This is because Google (or any search engine you’re using) has a crawler. It goes out and gathers information about all the content they can find on the Internet. And it has an algorithm that tries to match all that website data with your query. As a result, Google displays the websites that may answer your questions. It ranks the websites based on several judging factors – the most relevant ones appear first.
As a business owner, you definitely want more people to visit your website. For example, you’re selling computers online. And you have a beautiful website that introduces the models of computers you are selling. How do people find your website then? When someone searches the term “buy computer” on Google, you may want your website to appear on the first page of the search result. Why? Because it means a higher chance for visitors to click on your website. But, to beat all the other websites and appear in the first page, you need to have a very smart strategy. You need to convince Google that you are the most relevant website to the query “buy computer”. That’s the trick of SEO – you optimise your website to search engines.
But the cruel reality is – there are billions of websites out there! As a small business owner, it’s definitely very difficult for you to compete with other big brands. In SEO, we distinguish between head keywords and long-tail keywords. A head keyword is a general term like “computers”, “buy computer” and “new computer”. Because it is generic, lots of people search about it. And there are many websites that are relevant to it. Big brands like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon will definitely appear in the first few pages. As a small business owner, it’s not easy to compete with other big brands and large retail stores for generic keywords! That’s why we need long-tail keywords.
So what are long tail keywords? A long-tail keyword is more specific than a head keyword. And most of the time it consists of more words (but not necessarily!). And because it is more specific, usually fewer people create content about it. Let’s look at an example of a long-tail keyword. If you’re selling educational books for children, you may want to create content about it. Your target keyword could be “educational books for children”. But, there are many booksellers, publishers and retailers writing about this topic. Think of Amazon, Best buy and the likes. If you just start out with your website, it’d be nearly impossible to rank for this term. The competition is insanely huge. So what you should do is to focus on a niche. You need to target a very specific group of people. If your bookstores sell education books for kids with attention issues, this could be your niche. “Educational books for kids with attention issues” is an example of a long tail keyword. If you write high-quality content about a niche topic like that, you can beat the competition for those long-tail terms. Because less people write about it, you face less competition. Also, you can target searchers who have an intent to buy books. For example, a long-tail term like “where to buy educational books for kids with attention issues in Toronto” is very specific. And we can assume searchers of this term have a great intention to buy books. It’s easier to turn them into customers if they find relevant content in your website.
There are many advantages of using long-tail keywords. The obvious advantage is less competition. It would be great to rank #1 for a generic keyword like “computers”. But in reality, these popular search terms are very competitive. As a small business owner, you have to adopt a pragmatic approach. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes may even indicate ambiguous intent. You may make a lot of efforts to rank well, but eventually attract random visitors to your site. They may not be your target customers. And if they find your website irrelevant, they will leave immediately without staying. In contrast, long-tail keywords are specific to your business and your niche, so as a result search volume is low. The upside of this is that it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to rank well for your targeted long-tail keywords. As a small business owner, using long-tailed keywords is a very good way to promote your business. Especially when you don’t have the budget to hire a professional SEO agency.
But you might think: “I want to rank for the popular keyword. That one gets loads of traffic!” Of course, when you can rank page 1 for that popular query, It might drive a lot of traffic to your site. But you need to know a lot of competitors are targeting the same keyword. So we’d suggest you to start with the long-tail keywords first. Because long-tail keywords are less competitive. When you’ve written several good articles about the long-tail keywords, you will start getting traffic. As a result, you create credibility for your website. Then you can aim for a term that gets closer to the generic term. When you focus on“educational books for kids with attention issues”, Google will find out you have quite a bit of specialised content on this topic. You will start getting traffic for these specialised content. If this works, you can start writing high-quality content about other types of topics. Slowly but surely, you’ll be getting closer to the generic terms like “educational books for children”. Because once you have built the credibility, Google will value you as a trustable source and give you better rankings. So SEO is a long-term strategy. You need to be patient and smart.
Long tail keywords means higher conversions too! Less competition isn’t the only advantage of writing about long-tail keywords. Think about “computer” as a keyword. Do you think this is really a good keyword? While the search volume of this keyword is huge, the search intent can be ambiguous. People searching for “computer” are not necessarily wanting to buy a computer. They may look for computer repair or other generic information about computers. But when you focus on long tail keywords, you cater to their search intent. For example, you are an online dating coach and you offer breakup therapy to clients. You can target specific keywords like “break up therapist in Toronto”. As your visitors are looking for a very specific type of service, they’ll likely find your website useful. And it’s easier to turn them into customers as they are intentionally looking for a break up therapist. So, focusing on the long tail is actually a smart choice.
After reading all the advantages of long tail keywords, you must want to start adopting this SEO strategy now! What if you still have no idea of how to find your long tail keywords? No worries, you can refer to some of our suggestions. One of the useful suggestions is to use Google’s “Searches Related to…”. Ever notice that when you scroll to the bottom of Google’s search results, there’s a section called, “Searches related to…”? Well this area is actually a gold mine for long tail keyword research. When you type in a generic keyword, scroll to the bottom of the page. Then take a look at the “Searches related to…” for that keyword. You’ll get a handful of great long tail terms that you can target. Google’s autocomplete suggestions is another good method. Type each short keyword into Google and write down its autocomplete suggestions. It helps you generate a great list of keywords easily.
Another good place to find keywords is forums. Forums and social media sites are very useful places to find new keyword ideas. Think about it: where your target audience hangs out? Go to a forum where your target audience goes. Find out what they are discussing. This is part of your market research too. Because at the end of the day, you need to provide something people are looking for. Quora is a very good example. It is an extremely popular crowdsourced Q&A site. Once you enter a broad keyword into the search bar, Quora will show you the most popular questions on that topic. You can research about what people are looking for on a specific topic. Then you can create relevant content that answers people’s questions. With all the useful content, this will certainly boost your website traffic!
In short, go where they aren’t! Publish Content your competitors ignore! It is a great way for small businesses to stand out. And When you create a list of long tail keywords, always remember some of the key points:
Conversion mindset: You need to provide something that your potential customers are looking for. And it’s easier to convert searchers into buyers if you already know their search intent.
Long tail keywords should be very low competition. There should not be a lot of people who know about these keywords. There’s not a lot of sites targeting them already.
You need to build specifically optimised pages to turn those searchers into customers or to serve them in whatever way you need. You need to understand the psychology of your searchers. And provide relevant content that offers value.
Now that you know how to discover long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage. But one last point: your long-tail targeting is only as strong as your content! If you aren’t recognised as an authority in your niche, Google won’t give you good rankings. You need to demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in your niche. So, you need to start creating high-value assets. Try to blog about your industry, and rewrite your web copy to communicate your unique value proposition to your customers. Also, don’t forget to measure your rankings and traffic. And look at what your competitors are doing. Always stay on top of the competition. When you do so, you may discover even more keyword phrases you can target. That will help you continue to build your credibility and improve your SEO strategy.