Long Tail Keywords Are Better

As we all know by now, keywords are the words and phrases that users enter into search engines when they’re looking for something. When it comes to optimising your website, keywords are the phrases for which you’d like to appear in the search engine results when people are looking for your products or services.

Because the real competition when it comes to marketing online is keyword competition, there are some things that it’s important to bear in mind when you’re choosing the keywords that you want to optimise for.

Common Keyword Mistakes

* Optimising for your company slogan, instead of what people are actually searching for.
* Optimising for common words with more than one meaning.
* Optimising for generic terms that are too broad.
* Optimising for your company’s term for something, rather than what people use to search for your product or service.

Keyword Phrases

Because individual keywords are often too broad to optimise for easily, an intelligent alternative is to optimise for keyword _phrases_ instead. A keyword phrase is usually a combination of between two and five words that you expect people to use when they’re searching for your product or service.

When you’re choosing what to optimise for, ask yourself what you’d type into a search engine to find yourself. The answer to that question is probably a good keyword phrase for your website. Another good way to choose an effective keyword phrase is to ask yourself what problem your product or service solves for people. Once again, the answer may be a good keyword phrase to optimise for.

Keyword Phrase Length

Longer search phrases are usually considered to deliver better targeting, from customers who are more interested in making a purchase. According to received internet wisdom, short keywords are entered by shoppers, and long keywords are entered by buyers.

Adding relevant descriptive content to your pages will help you appear in search engine results for search terms that are similar to keywords, but which do not necessarily match them exactly.

Searches Are Broad

Although the temptation to optimise for very broad keywords is understandable, it’s both very difficult due to the amount of competition, and potentially not as effective as optimising for long tail keywords, or keyword phrases.

Part of the reason for this is that Google has reported that almost half of all search queries that Google receives every day are unique. This goes to show just how broad searches really are.

The Keyword Value Pyramid

Ranking for a generic term is all very well, (if more difficult), but it appears that the search terms which convert visitors most effectively are ones which are specific.

As search continues to improve, it will get better and better at filtering out sites which, although they contain a certain word, are not actually relevant to the terms being searched for. Google, for example, has a vested interest in returning the most relevant search results possible, so being able to exclude untargeted sites will be of primary importance to them.

Trying to optimise for a generic keyword term requires fairly aggressive techniques. And the effort may have certain inherent problems.

* Optimising for generic terms may generate leads that are not qualified.
* Aggressive optimisation raises your profile, and may lead to significant fluctuations as new algorithms are implemented.
* The search value pyramid (pictured below) suggests that the most value comes from the most specific terms. Focusing on the top may mean you’re missing out on the value lower down.


Using the Search Value Pyramid

Most sites are built along the lines of the pyramid, starting out with small, generic terms to bring people to your site, and then filtering them down into the pages where specific terms are found.

However, although some people may start their search for information on building the perfect back link by entering terms like “marketing” into the search engine, it’s not very likely. If nothing else, it would take them a long time to filter the useless information out.

So instead of building your site along those lines, consider where on the pyramid your site should actually start out. If you start out with more specific terms, your site will have a more cohesive theme, and it will be easier to appear to a more focused audience.

When you’re choosing how to start optimising your site, first evaluate how competitive your market is, what resources you have, and on what level you can compete. Making your website too broad or unfocused reduces your chances of success.