The biggest reason you decided to build a website for your small business is to find new customers, but you've probably already discovered your website also needs search engine marketing (SEM) tactics to compete for all of the potential customers using search engines to find the products you're offering.
That part of the online marketing is significantly more challenging that just creating your website - especially when your competition seems to be showing up all over the search results.
The good news is that long tail keywords can help your small business compete online, but it's important to understand what they are.
The success of your website and getting new customers is all based around search engines, and quite frankly one in particular - Google - which commands nearly 80% of all Internet searches. It's simply how users find you when they need something you have to offer.
Those words, or "keywords" that people type into the search box are critically important to understand for your business, and it's what search engine marketing is all about.
First, you need to know what keywords people typically type in, and then you have figure out the best way to show up in results for the buyers of those searches.
Keywords come in many forms and variations. For example someone searching for lawn care services could type in many things such as "lawn care", "Seattle lawn care", "freelance gardener", "lawn maintenance", "grass cutting", etc.
The possibilities are numerous and in fact, most searches done in Google every day have never been searched for before! Now since you've likely realized that your competition is already doing well for these types of terms, then you need to research some opportunities for long tail keywords.
What Are Long Tail Keywords Anyway?
Long tail keywords are simply longer strings of text that searchers will use to help define what they are looking for. If we continue with the Seattle lawn care market, a long tail keyword might be something like "organic lawn care contractor" or "lawn care fertilizer schedule". Do you see how a long tail keyword search phrase actually gives you more information as to the intent of the user?
Here are some of the major advantages to targeting long tail searches for your website marketing:
A longer string of text is generally more revealing as to the users intent. For example, a search for "lawn care" could be someone searching for a contractor, but could also be someone wanting to learn it for their own, someone interested in starting a small lawn care service business, someone needing their grass cut, someone needing a tree cut down, or somebody needing a way to get their dog to stop digging holes in the yard.
On the other hand, a long tail keyword such as "Seattle grass cutting service prices" is very indicative of somebody wanting to get their grass cut, lives in Seattle and is in the buying market. Now, if you offered grass cutting services, which page would you want to rank first for?
Long tail keywords help qualify buyers. As in the above example, long tail keywords may either qualify or disqualify a person searching as a buyer. Either type of query is good news for you because you can more easily determine where to spend your marketing time and money.
For example, if your company was a lawn care contractor in Seattle, you probably wouldn't want to bother with someone searching for "What to do about Seattle neighbour with poor lawn care". This person is not a buyer.
One of the best things about long tail keywords is that you can get new customers and still be under-the-radar of your competition since they may not be doing the kind of long tail keyword research and search engine optimization you are engaging in.
Sure they may rank highest for "Seattle Lawn Care", but if you rank highest for "Organic lawn care in Seattle", they may never know that you even exist while you're scoring new and paying customers online.
How Do You Find Long Tail Keywords To Use For Search Engine Marketing?
The easiest way to find these golden long tail keywords is to use the Google Keyword tool. You need to have a Gmail account to log in, but it's free to use.
Type some basic terms of your industry in the search box, and Google will give you hundreds of variations, or long tail versions of the main keyword.
You can also use your own research, based on customer inquires. What do your customers phone and ask you about? Keep a record of questions you get or FAQs that happen in store, but be very specific in writing down those questions. The reason for this is if people are asking it of you in person, many more are also searching for it online. Those specific questions can be turned into profitable long tail keyword tactics online.
Keep in mind that long tail keywords can also be used for paid advertising too. This is called SEM, or search engine marketing using Google's Adwords program.
You basically pay when someone clicks on your advertisement which is placed around organic search results. The prices can be inexpensive due to a lower volume, but will target buyers that may very likely be overlooked by your competition.
Long tail keywords can help establish your online presence with just a little research. You can "own" many such keywords online, and then perhaps use that success to compete for more challenging keywords later on.