This is a practice used by search engine optimization (SEO) professionals to find and research actual search terms people enter into the search engines when conducting a search. These search words or phrases are called keywords.

SEO professionals research keywords in order to achieve better rankings for web pages using those keywords.

Keywords that are widely used will have a huge number of web pages associated with them which makes it very difficult for any page to appear at the top of the search engines. For example, if you were to do a Google search on the word Ford Cars the results will return in excess of 24,000,000 sites that have the keyword Ford Cars associated with them. I am sure you can see it would be very difficult to get to a reasonable position against all that competition.

However, there is a form of keyword research that might mean you could have a good ranking – not for the word Ford Cars but for an extension of that phrase – for example, Ford Cars Michigan reduces the number of competitive pages to about 300,000. A much smaller number to tackle.

This extension of a keyword with descriptive words is called a long-tail keyword. So, long-tail in keyword research is basically an expansion of a core, generic, high-volume keyword phrase to include numerous combinations and permutations of the keywords and their associated or relevant phrases.

Why might you want to do this? These phrases individually are unlikely to account for many searches, but when taken as a whole, these long-tail keywords can provide significant targeted traffic that will convert well because the keywords are much more precise that the searcher found a very close match to what they were looking for.

The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate because they are more precise and therefore more relevant to the people doing the searching is worth investigating.

These keywords are very effective because there is little competition for most of these keywords on major search engines. But that is only true if people are actually using them in the search engine.

Comprehensive long-tail keyword research can be a highly effective strategy, since people making long-tail searches are arguably further along in the buying cycle, so conversion rates can be higher.

A recent analysis of the use of long-tail keywords has found that long-tail searches often exhibit a higher conversion rate by up to 200% compared to short-tail (generic) keywords, and can be extremely profitable for search engine marketers in terms of a lower cost per action and higher return on investment.

Keyword Research – How to Find?

There are lots of keyword research tools on the market – when you really start in internet marketing you will be sent lots of offers for these tools. But, there are free tools available most notably the Google Keyword finding tool (just type ” keyword” into Google and it will be the top option). This is the basis of most of the tools you would pay for – they go use the Google tool behind the scenes and send you back the results.

So, keyword research must focus not only on specific words but also on more descriptive keywords and it must look at the number of competitor sites to determine whether it is a phrase worth targeting.

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