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The long tail of Search

If you are a search engine optimization (SEO) professional then no doubt you've had to carefully manage client expectations around how quickly their campaign will show positive benefits. The upturn of traffic from a nascent optimization strategy may be hard to quantify, especially since search engines may take time to reindex your content and recalculate the effects of your offpage efforts. All too often a client will ask you to optimize their website for a highly competitive keyword - one that other websites have been competing for over the past few years. It is next to impossible to launch a site and do well for these highly competitive keywords. This is where long tail keywords come into their own.

The long tail of search

A long tail keyword is one which has several words in it. So for example, instead of targeting "tourism" (and competing with the global market) you could target "eco tourism in Cape Town" and compete in a much smaller market. Of course long tail keywords are going to bring in less traffic than a shorter phrase because they are more specific and fewer people are going to search for them. Long tail keywords are however easier to convert into sales and far easier to obtain rankings for.

Benefits of long tail search engine optimization

There are several reasons that building an SEO strategy around long tail optimization is effective:

  • It is easier to rank for long tail keywords
  • You will be writing specific content pages, which makes it easier to convert visitors to sales leads because visitors find exactly what they're looking for
  • Remember the mantra "content is king". Google loves content. If you're adding specific, valuable content, you will be rewarded
  • As your site develops status you will find it easier to rank for those highly competitive shorter keywords