Long Tail Keywords

by Dave Curtis on 12/25/2008


Long tail keywords are specific combinations of words (including your target keyword or a synonym) that make up an exact phrase that someone will type into a search engine. For example, let’s say that “dogs” is your keyword. Typing “dogs” into Google gives us 170,000,000 resulting pages.

However using dogs in combination with a few other words, in this case “brown fluffy dogs” and putting it into the search engine in quotes (for exact phrase) we get just 4 pages of resulting competition for that exact phrase. So by using Brown fluffy dogs as our long tail keyphrase we have almost no competition on the web to optimize against provided that brown fluffy dogs are not a hot item heavily optimized for right now (and in this ultra absurd example there are only 4 resulting pages for that exact phrase, so who cares – you’re still going to be on page one).

Now we go to the Google Keywords Tool to see approximately how much traffic that exact phrase could possibly be attracting. “brown fluffy dog” gets 58 requests a day, whereas “brown fluffy dogs”, plural, receives receives about 28 per day. As “brown fluffy dog” singular is contained within the plural search string, your page would also show up in the results. So being that this page is all about fluffy dogs, brown fluffy Labrador puppy (as a long tail keyword) should do fairly well. Click it and see what Google shows you.

What this example shows is two things. First, that far fewer pages may be out there optimized for the exact phrases that describe what you have to sell if you sell brown fluffy dogs. If you sell brown fluffy dogs there’s no reason to target “dog” or “dogs” alone when you would have to dig and claw your way through between 170,000,000 and 700,000,000 pages to get to page one. That’s just nuts – especially when you’re just one small pet shop in Idaho (I’ll get back to “idaho” in a minute).

The second thing that this example shows is an end result type of search that tends to come about after a person has narrowed down their purchasing decision to just one specific idea. In this case, if they are ready to make a purchase, they are looking very specifically for “brown fluffy dogs” only. Now getting back to “Idaho”. “Dogs for sale in Idaho” is a very useful long tail keyword term that is only concerned about getting to page one in Google in just under half a million page results, and Googles free tool shows that there are about 210 searches a day. It also shows us that “dogs for sale in Boise Idaho” gets 28 specific searches per day, so if you have a dog shop in Boise Idaho this would be a great long tail keyword to use along with other related long tail keywords on that page.

What if you don’t just deal with fluffy brown dogs in Boise though? What if you ship to other places?

One of the best ways to deal with this issue targeting larger markets further away is to first identify what those larger market areas actually are. Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago are a few larger areas you may want to ship to. You may want to focus on areas that are known for the average wealth of the residents. Martha’s Vineyard perhaps. In this case you would create new pages on your site for each one of the places you have chosen and you could do two more things. The first thing you could do is create a separate folder such as “los-angeles” or “dogs-shipped-to-los-angeles” and then a page or pages within that folder about the shipping of any dog types or breeds that you ship. If you really want to get fancy you can create a .access 301 redirect and place it within that folder to tell it that the name of the default index page within that folder is not named “index” but something more descriptive like “fluffy-brown-dogs.html”. In this case the content on the page itself would have information about “fluffy brown dogs shipped to Los Angeles California”, the folder would be called “dogs-shipped-to-los-angeles” and the page itself would be named “fluffy-brown-dogs.html” giving your page an overwhelming number of clues that the search engines just couldn’t pass up to show on page one of the search results for anyone looking to have a fluffy brown dog shipped to Los Angeles, California.

If you’re creative and think about it though, there are other ways to do this even better. Using “dogs-shipped-to-los-angeles” as one folder and “dogs-shipped-to-san-francisco” as another, and on and on after you find and target the largest most lucrative markets, you can use a different name for your default “index” page. Instead of “fluffy-brown-dogs” you can choose something a bit more searched such as puppies-for-sale and within that page have links to sub-pages such as “labrador-puppies-for-sale.html” with a long tail text link on your “puppies-for-sale.html” page highlighting the words making the link “Labrador puppies for sale”. Multiple long-tail keyword links to multiple puppy pages will all fall within the “puppies shipped to Los Angeles” folder contents and each have the “shipped to” and “for sale” attributes ascribed to them.

The importance of focusing on exact areas cannot be lost. First, your site requires many unique pages to gain the most ranking for a wide variety of keywords, terms and phrases. Secondly when a person simply types in “dogs” he or she is just beginning the purchasing cycle and hasn’t narrowed anything down yet. The closer someone is to making a decision to buy, the more exact they are in knowing what they want, and the more exact their search terms will be. I want a “brown fluffy Labrador puppy” but the pet stores in my area don’t have any so I can have one shipped. Who ships brown fluffy Labrador puppies to Los Angeles? So they type into Google: brown fluffy Labrador puppies shipped to Los Angeles and 5,200 pages show up. Some are about Teddy Bear puppies, some are about Teacup Pomeranians, and a bunch about Labradors. So what if there is no such thing as a “fluffy” Labrador retriever? The point is that if you narrow down more popular long tail terms you can use them to your advantage in the targeted markets.

If you don’t target specific areas, your job will be much harder trying to rank fewer pages for more keywords.