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Mastering the Long Tail Search

April 20, 2012 · 10 comments

in SEO

Long Tail Keywords VS Fat Head KeywordsIf you want your business to be noticed by search engines, you need to make good use of keywords.

By targeting the phrases that Internet users are searching for, you increase your website’s chance of being found among the billions of pages that make up the World Wide Web.

The tricky question to answer is this:

Which search terms are the most beneficial?

Is it better to use generic keywords that have enormous search volumes (often referred to as ‘fat head’ search terms) or more specific keywords and phrases that have lower search volumes (known as ‘long tail’ search terms)?

To answer that question, you need to consider several factors.

First, how much traffic can you expect a particular keyword to bring to your landing page?

Secondly – and perhaps more importantly – what kind of traffic will each type of keyword bring in?

You also need to consider the cost of buying advertising space alongside search results for your chosen keywords.

Consideration Number 1: Traffic 

Fat head search terms have the potential to bring in a lot more traffic than long tail search terms, simply because there are more people searching for fat head terms. However, if you base your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy solely on targeting fat head searches, you run the risk of being lost in the crowd.

Fat head keywords are the obvious choice for website managers and content writers, so there will already be millions of web pages targeting your chosen fat head keywords.

Sure, you could bring in traffic by paying for your site to feature on pages of results for fat head searches, but why spend money if you can avoid it?

Long tail search terms are likely to have less competition from other sites, which means that you get a bigger share of a smaller amount of traffic when you target this type of search term.

Consideration Number 2: Conversions 

Not only is your page more likely to rank highly for long tail search terms, but they are also likely to bring in more relevant traffic.

For example, targeting the phrase “budget laptops” might attract visitors who are starting to think about buying a new computer, whereas “Lenovo IdeaPad S205-1038” will bring in customers who have already done some research and who are considering purchasing a particular product.

This sort of visitor is much more likely to convert into a sale than someone who is just starting out on their search.

Consideration Number 3: Cost 

The cost of displaying ads for your site alongside fat head search results is much greater than it is for long tail searches, simply because the former set of search terms is much more in demand among people wanting to publicize their sites.

Think about how you could most effectively spend your marketing budget: will you pay a lot to run a few ads on fat head searches, or will you use the same amount of money to target ads at long tail search terms?

For the reasons discussed above, long tail searchers who click on your ads are more likely to convert into sales than their fat head counterparts. Long tail search terms are therefore a much more cost-effective option when it comes to promoting your site.

Conclusion 

In summary, you are more likely to have success with long tail search terms than with fat head search terms. Although fat head search terms have the potential to generate greater traffic, this potential can be difficult to realize.

Long tail search terms, on the other hand, are cheaper, convert better, and have less competition, which makes them a formidable weapon in your SEO strategy.

Image Credit: Stuart Miles

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

JamesW April 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Interesting and very good post, you certainly know your field.
bookmarked it 🙂

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Carla April 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

James, thanks for the awesome comment. I do hope to see you come by again!

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John Ernest April 22, 2012 at 7:28 am

True, long tail keywords are really hard to master but are very beneficial for a website. Not everyone will wittingly know what keyword to search at search engines to get the relevant information that they need. Most of them will try to search the words that come floating into their minds. So it is important that you learn how to use long tail keywords in your SEO ventures.

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Carla April 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks for the comment, James. I’m glad you really understood the message 🙂

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Ming@Affiliate Marketing April 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

Long tail keywords has been always an easy target to be ranked on Google (though not sure about now since Google launching the new algorithm yesterday). However, they are certainly good LSI keywords.
Ming@Affiliate Marketing recently posted..Adsense Account Banned! What To Do?My Profile

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Carla April 26, 2012 at 12:00 am

Good point Ming! Ranking in Google can be easily achieved by using long tail keywords. Thanks for the comment.

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Michael April 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm

This is very true, Carla, long tail keywords are important, there’s no doubt about that. And many of them can lead searchers to complete very specific actions on your site. I have heard that having a mixture of long tail keywords and more generic keywords as well can help our sites rank for more terms altogether.

I ma not a search engine expert but it sure seems that if a person had a mix of keywords, without stuffing them where they did not fit, that their site might rank pretty well overall in the SERPS. That make sense and when you combine that idea with the advice you have given here, that sounds like a pretty good strategy.
Michael recently posted..Open Door PolicyMy Profile

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Carla April 26, 2012 at 12:08 am

Thanks for the comment, Michael.

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Lynn Brown April 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm

All good points Carla and I am glad that I learned early on that the Fat Head keywords while they bring in huge amounts of traffic, it may not be the targeted traffic a business is looking for. I would rather have 500 interested prospects that 5000 uninterested and will never buy from me prospects!

The long tail keywords have worked very well however, I am not wondering about the comment that Ming made above about Google changing their algorithm again. Always something to keep us on our toes, right? lol
Lynn Brown recently posted..Attention Online Marketers Tell Me Your NameMy Profile

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Carla April 26, 2012 at 1:41 am

Thanks for the awesome comment, Lynn!

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