Whether you’re relying on paid advertising or search engine optimisation (SEO) to drive traffic to your website, the keywords you choose are going to be a critical factor determining the success or otherwise of your business.
Types of Keywords
There are two types of keywords. Head term keywords are generic, popular and frequently used keywords. Typically they would be just one or two word phrases and are often dominated by large organisations with substantial marketing budgets.
Long tail keywords, on the other hand, are generally three of four word phrases and very specific to what the user is looking for.
The term ‘long tail’ was coined by Chris Anderson. He used it to describe the strategy of targeting less-competitive niche markets rather than the hugely competitive broad keywords.
Which Type of Keywords Should You Use
The type of keywords you should focus on will depend on the objectives of your website. Unless you have substantial resources, many would argue that you should focus on long tail keywords if you’re looking to increase sales. Are they correct? Well let’s take a look at the purchase process.
The purchase process can be broken down into six elements,
- Product awareness. Something happens which brings the product to the attention of the potential purchaser.
- Product research. The potential purchaser starts investigating the particular item. They may read product reviews, view the product in a local store, or simply gather the opinions of friends and family.
- Evaluation. When sufficient research has been undertaken it is reviewed and evaluated.
- Purchase decision. It’s a goer 🙂 It’s going to be bought, now it’s only a question of where it’s going to be bought from.
- Purchase. The supplier is identified and the product is bought.
- Post purchase evaluation. The purchaser can assess the product and then decide whether to keep it or return it. (This may not apply to all purchases and may vary depending on where the item is purchased).
If we think about it, during the product research phase, when the user is trying to find as much information as possible, generic keywords are likely to be used. If we build our site around these words, we may attract huge amounts of traffic, but no one is ready to buy.
As the individual moves through the purchase process and comes to the purchase decision, they have a more informed opinion of exactly what it is they are looking for. This is what they’re going to buy, and they search using very specific search terms.
These are long tail keywords. They’re also buyer keywords. So if we’re looking to increase sales, these are the keywords we should focus on. Head term keywords might generate the most visitors, but long tail keywords generate the business.
Long Tail Keywords
You might think that as long tail keywords generate business, they might be highly competitive. But in a somewhat perverse way, it appears not to be the case. Because they’re very specific, fewer websites choose exactly the same terms. Therefore the competition for them is less. They also have other benefits including,
- Lower competition means they’re easier to rank for.
- Bidding costs are lower in pay per click advertising
- As mentioned above, they lead to higher sales
- Because they’re more focused they tend to lead to more focused website content
- There focused nature also means more pages within a website being indexed by the search engines
- They attract targeted traffic
- Research on search behaviour reveals that users are becoming more specific in their search queries and therefore not to use them would be missing a trick.
- Their buying nature results in a higher return on investment (ROI)
What’s the Best Soucre of Long Tail Keywords?
You might think that given all the potential benefits, gaining access to these highly profitable keywords requires the purchase of an expensive piece of software. Think again. The best source for these keywords is free, and no, it’s not Google. Well, not quite. It’s the data you should be capturing in your log files and analytics software. Here you’ll be able to see the keywords people searched on which brought them to your site. So go and take a look and then make sure you have them in your content.
Over To You: Do you use long tail keywords in your copy? How do you decide which keywords to use? Is most of your business derived from them?