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I’ve never met a blogger who didn’t want more traffic, yet it seems like a lot of us find that getting organic search traffic is one of the most hardest things to figure out. But there’s really no secret to getting search traffic – you simply have to take the right steps to optimize your blog for the search engines.
I promise that’s easier than you think it is – but too many bloggers make it harder than it has to be because they’re choosing the wrong keywords.
Search engine optimization all starts with knowing how to find the right keywords. These are the words and phrases that people use when they search for something using a search engine like Google or Bing. There are two kinds of keyword phrases – short tail and long tail keywords. Short tail keywords are generally no more than two or three words. Long-tail keyword are usually longer, but more importantly, they’re also more specific.
You Need Long Tail Keywords
Why do we call them long tail keywords? Well, imagine a brontosaurus – it has a tiny head way up high on a very tall neck that then swoops down and continues far off behind it with a long tail. And that’s pretty much what a keyword distribution graph looks like – Let me show you!
The head of the dinosaur – the super popular, short tail keywords – accounts for about 20-30% of searches. The vast majority of people – 70-80% — are searching for more specific long-tail keywords. They are low on the graph because there are less people searching for each one, but there’s a whole lot of potential traffic spread out among them.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you have a blog about pets, and want to write a post about dog training. Out of all the people searching for that topic, 15 or 20 percent may search for the exact phrase “dog training”, meaning that it gets more searches than any other single phrase.
However, since it’s such a common phrase used on so many pet websites, it’s going to be nearly impossible to rank well for. There are too many well-established websites already out there that are optimized for that phrase, making it way too competitive for one small blog to gain any traction with. It’s unlikely that keyword phrase will ever bring a visitor to your blog, because people who search that phrase are not going to find your site in the search engine results (SERPs) – your post is likely going to be 10, 20 or more pages back.
However – if we use the Google Keyword Planner to look at some of the less searched for phrases, we start finding things like “puppy training class” getting 110 searches a month, or “training dogs not to bite”, which is getting 140 searches monthly.
You may look at those numbers and feel really disappointed and wonder why on earth you’d do all that work for so few searchers. Here’s why: you can optimize for the short-tail and it’s 33000 searches and end up with ZERO page views, or you can optimize for the long tail and it’s 140 searches, rank first in the search results, and get 50 or 60 page views every month.
Sounds different when you put it that way, doesn’t it? But the numbers aren’t the whole story – there’s something else just as important, and that’s targeting.
When someone searches for “dog training”, you have no idea what they’re really looking for. Do they want a book on dog training? A video? Are they looking for someone who can come to their house and train their dog for them? It’s such a generic search term, you can’t know what their real needs are.
But now look at our long tail keyword phrases – “training dogs not to bite”, for example. If someone searches for that, you know exactly what information they’re looking for!
Now, you can write a post that solves that problem, and optimize it for that phrase using all the on-page SEO tricks you know. You will probably be able to rank very well in Google pretty quickly. This will allow you to bring highly targeted traffic to a post that gives your reader the exact information that they were looking for.
How do you think you’re reader will feel when you have the solution to their problem? They’re going to love you! They’re going to be more likely to sign up for your newsletter, and more likely to purchase something you sell or recommend.
That’s what makes a blog successful. And it all started with a long-tail keyword.
Want more help with SEO? Check out our easy SEO blogging tips, learn how to find keywords in Google Analytics, and master the Google Keyword Planner tool.
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Great post. I just started teaching myself about long-tail keywords and using the keyword planner. Thanks for the great examples. It really helps!
Thank you for this. I can’t wait to start implementing some better key word planning on my posts. Hopefully, it will help me out in the traffic department.
Michaell | Foodscape says
Great tips! I never really thought about my page getting zero page views because I don’t know what people are searching for. Thanks for reminding me that it’s important to plan! Now to figure out how to make a title not sound boring while doing long tail keywords. Thanks for the awesome advice!
Aruna - Young Yoga Masters says
Thanks for explaining the long tail so well for keywords. I read Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail a few years ago but forgot about it for blog posts. It’s time to update some keywords!