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How One Marketer Used Long-Tail Content to Generate 400,000+ Organic Visits in a Single Year

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In this interview, we speak with Richard Jacobs of Speak Easy Marketing, Inc. about how he generated 400,000+ organic visits by writing long-tail content for a very competitive industry—DUI lawyers.

You’ll learn:

    1. How he used targeted articles to generate 400,000+ visits in a single year.
    2. The process he used to write over 100 articles.

  1. How his approach benefits both PPC and SEO efforts.

However, we have to warn you before you get started that this interview isn’t your average “7 Basic Tips for Better Marketing” type of article. It’s 7,357 words long, which means you may want to bookmark the page so you can come back to study it again later.

Are you ready? Ok, let’s learn how Mr. Jacobs generates massive amounts of organic traffic with long-tail, targeted content.

Background: An Introduction to My DUI Attorney

Joe Putnam: I remember you mentioned something about your DUI site ranking for a certain number of keywords. I’d love to know the background for the project such as how many keywords you ranked for and then we can get into specifics after that.

Richard Jacobs: Yeah, so people ask me why I do marketing for lawyers, and the whole reason I got into the industry actually is because of PPC. One night I’m sitting down and I decide to look up the most expensive PPC keywords you could find and a couple of them were mesothelioma lawyers and DUI lawyers.

I thought about it and decided lawyers probably have money and some of the pay per click costs were $70 or $80 a click. I thought, “Wow, if I can do well SEO-wise, and they are spending this much on a click, which is insane, I might really be able to do well in this market. That’s what started my interest.”

My first foray was to go into DUI because I figured mesothelioma is a lung disease from asbestos which is more rare. DUI is pretty common, and to me it wasn’t an ugly crime. It wasn’t like divorce or murder or any of that. It was just not an ugly crime, so I decided to target that.

I started a directory site to provide DUI leads nationwide, and I figured I would use SEO to do it. PPC people reading this article by the way shouldn’t tune out because this relates right back to PPC which we’ll talk about more later and in the next interview in this series. You shouldn’t think that because it’s SEO it’s not important for me. SEO and PPC are definitely linked at the hip. There’s a lot of interplay between the two of them and you’ll get a lot of lessons from SEO that go back to PPC and visa versa. I did, you will too.

I built this directory. We called it My DUI Attorney and over time I did my normal SEO practices. I kept gunning for these top keywords, DUI lawyer or DUI attorney. Eventually after a while I got close. I got on page one. I was really excited for those terms and maybe a few others, and then I eventually got to the number one spot for a 6-month period for DUI attorney and DUI lawyer in the whole US.

We verified the results on different phones and different machines and all that. I was pumped. I thought, “Wow, here it is, the site’s going to do amazing now,” but it didn’t. When I looked at Google Analytics we were only getting six to ten visits per day on the short-tail keywords “DUI attorney” and “DUI lawyer.” Meanwhile, we were starting to get visits on all these permutations around those terms. I was like,
“What’s wrong.”

I looked at the Google keyword tool and it showed me 5000 searches for “DUI attorney” and “DUI lawyer,” but then I started thinking more about pay per click and the terms I was getting. I said, “Wait a minute the Google keyword tool’s showing me the equivalent of broad match.” I ran the tool again, and I put in phrase match. Now we were down to 800 searches a month. Then I ran it again with exact match and we were down to 200 to 400 searches a month.

Then, I remembered something from the SEO Brain Trust back in the day. It said there was a study by AOL that was leaked that said even if you’re number one in pay per click, you’ll only get about 40% of the searches to click on your ad at best. I multiplied the exact match numbers by 0.4, and then it started to make sense. That’s why I was getting numbers in the six to ten per day range.

I was like, “Oh no, I’ve spent all this effort and all this time chasing these short-tail keywords and Google was telling me the whole time I was only going to get a few searches and now I’ve figured out why.” Yet no one was talking about this.

The Importance of Long-Tail Keywords

Joe Putnam: So initially you were looking at broad match for terms like “DUI attorney” which inflated the traffic you thought you would get from ranking number one for those terms, but once you drilled in with exact match you realized the traffic potential is smaller than you initially thought. And when you add in the fact that you’re only going to get a maximum of 40% of the clicks for those terms by ranking in the number one position then the numbers started to make sense. Is that basically how it works?

Richard Jacobs: Right. But no one I’ve seen talks about this. There’s a lot of PPC courses out there. I’ve taken a lot of them from some of the top guys. I have yet to see one of them say, “Oh, the Google keyword tool, by the way, shows broad match by default so if you bid it that way you have a chance of getting that many visits, but if you do phrase or exact match you don’t.”

No one says this. I was stumped. I was like what am I supposed to do now. I started searching for more keywords. At that time I had read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” where he talked about all these long-tail searches in any industry adding up to the majority of the search results. With that, combined with some further study, I decided, “All right well what I’m doing isn’t working. How do I go after all these long-tail keywords because I think maybe that’s going to work.” But I wasn’t sure.

Over the next year I re-positioned things and went after the long tail keywords, and I stopped worrying about the short tail ones. At some point I even stopped checking my ranking. I used to rank check 10 times a day.

The way I did it is I started adding content to the site to go after every long-tail keyword I could find. You can’t go after every single one, but you can go after themes. Here’s what I mean by that in DUI, I’ll just give you a brief background: If you get pulled over and the police want you to step out of the car they’ll ask you to do a series of tests by the side of the road. They’re called field sobriety tests.

The test they’ll ask you to do is follow a pen with your eyes while they look for your eyes to jerk. Another one is to walk a line without falling off the imaginary line, or to stand on one leg and count backwards. Stuff like that. If you were to try to go after all the exact searches in that one area of DUI it would be exhausting.

However, if you wrote articles about that area of DUI and you thought about common questions people have such as, “the cop said I failed the test is my case doomed,” or “I’m 100 pounds overweight and couldn’t do the DUI test,” or “I had a bad knee and I failed the DUI test,” or “I failed the follow the pen test,” and then wrote articles with these common questions embedded within them, you could rank for more specific searches without having to write a new article for each one. I did this and put the articles up on my site. What started happening is I saw in analytics that we started getting found for anything we put up on the site and we started getting more searches for over time.

Traffic before we took this approach was pretty low because I only focused on a few keywords, but traffic started building to the site once we took the new approach. I decided to go after every single theme and area of DUI I could by state, by city, by what happens; all that kind of stuff. By the end of the year I had gotten 400,000 visits  to the website from organic search, which is a lot. I looked at the analytics at the end of the year and saw well over 330,000 different keywords that were responsible for all these searches.

That’s when I proved it to myself and it really hit home. I said, “I never got anywhere close to this level of business and results from a few short-tail keywords.” I knew I had to focus on long tail. I literally proved it on a very large scale.

So the DUI attorney terms are one example of where it worked. At this point I’m also doing some side work for a couple different companies and one of them provides auto title loans (that’s where you borrow money against your car).

I was doing pay per click for them and they were doing it on a low level and bidding on all these different keywords like car loan, title loan, auto title loan and that kind of stuff. I had long tail on the brain and so I looked into their pay per click account and we were bidding on broad match on all these terms. At the same time the search query report had become a big deal with a few of the gurus harping about looking in there.

I took a look and sure enough I didn’t find auto title loans or title loans as having most of the conversions. I found stuff like “where can I find the cheapest auto title loan” or “auto title loans where you keep your car” or “title loans for 1995 Ford Chevy Van.” Even in pay per click, in this account, I saw not only were the clicks coming from long-tail searches, but the actual business was too.

Once somebody clicked on the site, we were getting forms filled in at a very, very, high rate because it’s a really rapid market. I was able to see that probably about 80% of all the clicks were long tails. Almost all the calls were from long tail searches. I was like, “This is showing up on pay per click too.”

Then, at that time we were able again to see analytics from Google Maps. These guys had 5 Google Maps listings. The information wasn’t very detailed, but it would show you the keywords that were responsible for generating the map listing. In a few of their map listings we saw auto title loan and title loans, but then there was this category called other, which made up about 80% of all the searches. When I searched through Google’s self-help area I found “other” means other keywords which essentially meant long tail keywords.

The same thing, the same phenomenon showed up. Everywhere I was looking the same thing kept coming up. I don’t know if you want to pause there, but that’s how I figured out that this is a viable way to do it and a very different way to do it that no one’s talking about.

Do Not Restrict Your PPC Campaign to a Few Narrow Keywords

Joe Putnam: Let me see if I can summarize this. Essentially, you were doing SEO and you realized that you were ranking for these long-tail terms. Instead of creating a web site let’s say with 10 pages focused on short-tail terms you created content centered around a theme, so one article potentially could have multiple keywords in it. Is that way it works?

Richard Jacobs: Yeah, what you want to do is take a niche. Let’s consider an example. I don’t know what a common one is, but let’s say you sell…flowers online.

Let’s say you sell flowers in Denver, Colorado, and you want to get SEO and you want to do pay per click. What most people would do is this: Let’s bid on buy flowers, buy flowers in Denver, Denver roses, those things. Instead, you want to first think of what are all the themes and the possible things people can search on. They can search on Mother’s Day Flowers or they can search on bereavement or funeral arrangements. They can search on Valentine’s Day.

I would get a calendar of all the holidays for instance. People can search on all these things. Then all the reasons they would get flowers. Thank you, I miss you, I love you, someone passed away, those kinds of things.

On your website you’ve got to have landing pages that have relevant content for a good quality score. I would do an article on Mother’s Day flowers, maybe the history of Mother’s Day, why it’s important, and of course, the specials you have. Then I would do one on bereavement. When people pass away why they give flowers, what’s commonly given, here’s some of the specials again.

You’d end up with maybe, over time, 50 different pages. Each one’s a landing page for your PPC, and when you’re bidding on keywords you bid on themes now. Let’s say, again, Mother’s Day. Don’t just bid on Mother’s Day Denver or flowers Denver. You want to bid on flowers for mom, Mother’s Day flowers, best flowers for Mother’s Day.

You’ll bid on maybe 20 different keywords just on that one theme. At the same time you’ll also want to run other themes on other pages. Cheap flowers, for example, or one on roses or other kinds of flowers. I’m trying to think of the other common flowers out there, marigolds, I don’t even know what you get for people. Chrysanthemums or something like that.

You’re doing it with the understanding that you’re not going to just get people searching on a few things. You’re going to get them searching on thousands of different things and if you capture the themes that they’re searching on and  write naturally and don’t try to keep your PPC campaign to a few narrow keywords you’re going to do a lot better.

Your net will capture 90% of the business instead of 10% of the business or 20% by doing this.

It also frees you from keyword stuffing because Google will naturally pick up variations based on what you’re writing about.

Gather and Harvest All the Themes You Haven’t Thought of and Add Them into Your PPC Campaigns

Joe Putnam: Sounds awesome. Two questions related to that. The first one is from a writing perspective. In order to get the 400,000 visitors from organic traffic you mentioned, how many pages did you write and what was your writing process like?

The next question is related to how big of an opportunity there seems to be here. Here’s what I mean: if you look at it most people are probably focusing on the short tail when it comes to PPC and SEO so the few who make the effort to put in the time that you did to write 100 articles in a year will have a big opportunity when not very many companies are going to invest in content at that volume.

So I’m curious about what your writing process was, i.e. how many pages you wrote to get 400,000 visitors. Then the second question is about the opportunity and how people are doing this.

Richard Jacobs: At first it seems like a daunting task, and you’re like, “I’m not going to do this,” and the laziness kicks in. You have to realize it’s an evolution. I never would’ve done it either except that I started out with one thing and went from there. What I would do is run a PPC campaign, but watch your search query report and watch what searches you’re getting. Don’t just look for negative keywords, that’s only part of the strategy.

Look for what people are typing in that you’re getting. Start really broad. You’ll pay a little bit more for waste, but it’ll reveal to you what else is out there that you’re happening to get a click for. Start broad and watch the search query report all the time. See what people are entering in. I would use the keyword tool extensively and I would put in every different type of keyword you can think of not just for the volume, and it’ll show you related terms you may not have thought of. They’ll just pop up naturally.

They used to have the Google Wonder wheel. I’ve heard it’s buried somewhere, but it may not be. Do Google searches and you’ll see related searches at the bottom. Again, you’re not looking for volume, but you’re looking for the themes you haven’t thought of. Gather and harvest as many as you can and add them back in to your pay-per-click campaign.

Soon you’re bidding on all kinds of crazy terms. It’s going to be sloppy at first but now you’re going to see which searches are actually getting you clicks. Now you start writing articles for those first, the ones that get you the most clicks. Keep doing that. Keep going through this process of adding more in and seeing what it’s getting you and writing more and more articles on it over time. Your campaign will get better and better.

The more articles your write now the more finely you can divide out your keywords and where they’re going. Over time you’ll be sending people to more relevant pages, you’ll start getting more clicks, you’ll get better quality scores and the whole evolution towards your goal will improve.

If your goal is to make more money with pay per click, this is the path to do it. Once it starts working you’re not going to mind because you’re going to say, “Hey, I can spend $20, $30, or $50 to get someone to write an article for me that’s good, and it’s worth it because now my quality score went up by one and I’m getting more clicks.” The whole thing is like a virtual cycle. That’s the whole point of this.

To answer your other question I ended up with over 200 articles on the old DUI site, but that didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a long period of time, and it was worth it because the more I did it the more money I made so why would I stop? It was really cool to see. It’s feedback for your SEO. That’s the best way I can describe it. You optimize with feedback and add and keep going. You’ll learn a lot more about your topic too, a lot more. You’ll have eyes on it that no one else will have.

It Ends Up Being a Combined PPC and SEO Strategy

Joe Putnam: Basically, it’s a process that combines both PPC and SEO. You start with your PPC campaign, you pay attention to what searches bring people to your web site with the search terms report, and then once you know those searches you start writing content around certain themes.

Richard Jacobs: Right.

Joe Putnam: It seems like they both work together. One, you’re going to get more organic search traffic because you have more content and highly targeted content. On the other hand, your PPC campaigns are going to perform better because you have a higher quality score since the content matches the search query.

Really it’s a combined PPC and SEO strategy. Is that how you’d describe it?

Richard Jacobs: Right, exactly. Google is always harping on you to maximize your quality score, which means you want relevant content. Most people just hear that as if their parents are talking to them, saying, “Yeah, yeah, Google. Get away from me.” But if you work with them this way, they’ll reward you. Their job is to show the most relevant result to a searcher.

This is a way to work with them without getting pissed off at them and to get the benefit you’re looking for.

Joe Putnam: Right. Is there anything else you can provide from a numbers perspective to demonstrate the value of those 400,000 organic visitors? For example, to put that in perspective, what would the traffic have cost from a PPC perspective?

Richard Jacobs: That’s another thing too, I don’t know if you want to go into this, this time, but the cost per clicks and all that stuff too. That will come down a lot because you’ll be bidding on things that no one else will bid on because they’ll think there’s no volume there or there’s nothing there. A lot of the terms won’t have much volume, but together they’ll add up to be a lot.

That’s the overarching theme because if you only focus on short tail you’re missing 70%, maybe 80%, of the market. You just are. If you’re getting more of the market it’s sloppiness, meaning you’re getting it in a very sloppy way. It’s like saying to someone, “Let’s go eat. I’m hungry.” “All right let’s go to a restaurant. What restaurant? Chinese food, Arabic food, Indian food, what kind of food? North Side, South side, East side?”

There’s just so much more to what you’re saying. I found as long as you’re in a non-branded market this holds true.  A branded market where this probably wouldn’t work would be the workout system P90X.

Most people will just search for P90X. If you were selling Harley Davidson stuff online it probably wouldn’t work. If you were selling motorcycle rider clothing it would because then you could have all the brands. You could have all the names and that kind of stuff. If you were selling just one brand it would be much harder.

That’s the way this works. That’s the whole premise is again you’re ignoring a lot of your market by not doing this. When you bid on a keyword let’s say again you sell shoes online, you’re bidding on keyword red shoes. Is it red shoes for kids? Red shoes for nights on the town? Red high heel shoes? Red orthopedic shoes? Red shoes for work? There could be a million different searches.

Within that keyword is hidden so many different types of customers and so many people you’re just missing out on all of them. People say to ask what’s the intent of a searcher for a keyword. Well they’re right, but it’s not the intent of a searcher. What are all the possible intents of all the possible searchers for that keyword. When you look at broad match keywords, you’ve got to realize there’s a lot hidden in there.

You’re not looking at one thing. You’re looking at one thing that’s actually an onion.  If you pull back that first keyword inside there’s hundreds of thousands of layers. All of them can have different intents. That’s what people are missing out on.

Google Wants to Match Their Searches to the Right Page

Joe Putnam: One last question about the content side. When people are creating these pages and when you were doing it, were you creating blog post after blog post for this content or were you creating more of a landing page? What could you say from an advice perspective about how to build these pages out or does it really matter? Does it not matter as long as you have more content on your site?

Richard Jacobs: You can fall into a trap because you can think of a landing page as a landing page and want to hold someone in there. Google won’t let you hold someone in a page with no escape anymore. You’ve got to have navigation where they can go other places.

Instead of fighting that, here’s how you do it in a good way. I’ll go back to DUI because I can speak about it really easily. If I’m on a page about DUI and the roadside tests, I’d consider what else a visitor would want to look at besides that, so I want to have related articles on the page. We started putting not only the article, but very closely related ones and links out to related places.

Again that makes sense. Now I’m more likely to go to two pages of the site, I’m not going to be trapped, and Google won’t be pissed, etc. That’s one way to do it where as you’re crafting content you want to have related stuff on that same page so people will visit more than one page without losing their interest. That’s really the best way to do it.

Then you asked me about blog posts. Here’s another concept too where most people think of a web site as a movie set. There’s the facade, which is the home page and then behind it there’s nothing there’s just 2 x 4’s and old sandwich wrappers and all that. A website really looks more like a tree. Each page of the site is a different branch where someone can land.

I’ll go back to the flower example because it’s easier to understand. Let’s say you have a website where you sell flowers. You have some pages talking about Mother’s Day flowers, some talking about roses, some chrysanthemums, some bereavements flowers. When someone searches in Google, yes, they’re going to see the pay per click ads, but they’re also going to see organic ads, and the page that shows up in the organic search is the page talking about what they’ve searched for.

If I search for bereavement flowers and I do it from my phone in Denver, Colorado, I’m going to first see websites that are flower shops close to me, but the pages on their sites I’m going to see is the bereavement flower page if they have one. Why? Because Google wants to closely match me to the right page. I’ll literally walk in through that page on their site. I’ll land on that page.

That’s what Google does naturally and that’s why they’re so good. You want to recreate the same thing in pay per click, but you’ve got to realize the more pages you have, the more places you have people to land where they get exactly what they want. That’s serving Google, that’s serving the user, that’s serving you well. It’s all good. You’ve got to realize, again, a web site looks like a tree and you can land on any branch. You’re not just coming through the trunk, the home page.

You can pass through there, but you’re not going to land there. When you think about a website like that, the entire website is exposed to Google. It’s like it’s turned inside out and all the pages are hanging out. You can enter through any part of it. You never want to neglect a part of the site and think well who’s going to see this page anyway? They might…

Joe Putnam: That makes sense. From a content perspective these pages could be blog posts or they just could be article pages, but what doesn’t work is they can’t be true landing pages that don’t have any other navigation because the point of this content is to be a branch that directs them to the trunk, so there really needs to be either a blog post or a page with navigation. Would you describe it that way?

Richard Jacobs: Yeah, you can have it as a blog post of you can have it as anything you want, but remember once they get there they don’t want to be trapped and you don’t want them to be trapped either.

You can’t trap them. They’re not going to respond well. Once they’re there, you won a huge victory. Now, you’ve got to keep them there. What you do is say, “Oh, you like this content? Well how about this other related article?” You give them little tidbits and try to get them to go to other pages of your site or to take action.

If you’re finding you can’t get them to take action yet, then the better alternative is to show them the next step in the path. Show them the next big step, and then maybe they’ll take action. Someone may not be ready when they hit an article page to call you, they just may not. They may need to read more about it. So give them more to read instead of just saying, “Hey, either you can sign up or get out of my site.” That’s the picture, the way a lot of people are looking at it. Once you’ve got a visitor, you don’t want them to click away so you have to have something good to keep them there. You’ve got to entice them.

I’ll give you a better example. A huge mistake would be obviously sending them to the home page because in most cases nothing will be relevant to what they’re looking for. Now they’ve got to look around for themselves and do the work. If you send them to an article page, fine, but what’s on there besides the article? Again, you should have related articles. You can have a chance for them to call or opt in, that’s fine, but again the primary driver of it is either I want to call you or I want to know more.

Let’s say you’re an acupuncturist, and you have an article on acupuncture and how it stops people from craving from cigarettes. Well, all right, have that article on there, but have something specific like a guide to stop smoking through acupuncture on that page or, again, have the path to more articles that are related to that specifically.

Furnish Your Website with Relevant Content and Give People the Choice to Opt In

Joe Putnam: In addition to related articles, there needs to be some type of navigation to keep people on the site along with some calls to action when people are ready to take action. What would you say are some of the top actions people could use for this type of strategy? A download or a phone number? What are the top things you would recommend?

Richard Jacobs: What I recommend is not trying to jump on them and force them to do something immediately because that may backfire. First of all what you’ll see is there’s a few pages of your site that a lot of people will go to and a lot of pages that very few people will go to. You start your optimization with the ones that most people hit, which is fine.

Again, give them a chance to opt in, give them a chance to call, but don’t pound it into them. Don’t have the phone number in 10 different places screaming, “Call now!” Don’t have opt-in boxes all over the place. Show them real content and give them the chance to opt in and all that. Give them lead magnets to entice them on things they could find out more about.

You have a dual purpose to the page. You may say, “Give us a call, but if you’re not ready to call yet then you’ll want to read this article to learn more.” You can’t force people, and you’ll get different kinds of people visiting the page. Some will just be in research mode and are not ready yet. Some are ready. You want to try to capture all those people and create goodwill.

Joe Putnam: Really, you’re taking care of the visitor, thinking about things from their perspective, and trying to provide them with what they want when they want it, right?

Richard Jacobs: Yes.

Joe Putnam: Some people will want more content while some are ready to call right away, and you can have both of those options available, but you don’t want to shove CTAs down their throat and have your phone number listed 10 times, or something like that, which would be obnoxious.

Richard Jacobs: Yeah, and this backs up to again who has come to your page. If you know what’s going on better with your keywords and that’s more finely tuned you’ll be able to create more appealing links and CTAs.

If you’re selling a product and a 65-year-old man with grown children who’s wife just passed away comes to the page, that’s a completely different interaction than a 25-year-old guy who’s never been married and has never bought flowers before.

A lot of times people send those two people to the same page, but they’re not going to respond to anything close to the same thing.

Joe Putnam: Right. You can’t always know who’s on your page, but targeted content is one way. It seems like also the search and the content would determine what the person is looking for. Somebody who searches for something closer to the end of the buying cycle is closer to being ready to purchase whereas someone who’s more in the research phase is doing just that and conducting research. Either one of those people will be looking for different things, depending on what they’re searching for. And you’d know that by the type of search they’re putting in.

Richard Jacobs: Yeah, that’s part of it too. Again, people say I only want buyers, I only want buying keywords. Well, you’re missing out on a lot of the market if you do that. Again, you don’t even know how they got to that point and who is trying to buy from you, you’re just hoping to catch them at that last moment. That’s why you want to have different appeals within the same site and different avenues and paths for them to go.

Someone in research mode may not buy today, but you can retarget them through pay per click, or if you give them good information they may now be ready to buy.

The Problem after a Point Eventually Solves Itself

Joe Putnam: Somebody may have that approach and say, “I only want buyers,” or someone may question that you got 400,000 visitors from Google but may want to know more about your conversions. What can you say about the results you’re getting from that traffic? What can you say about that and how you capitalize on 400,000 visitors, which includes people in research mode versus just buyers? What difference would you describe?

Richard Jacobs: First of all you’ve got to get enough volume. It wasn’t a great conversion rate. It was anywhere between 1% and 3%.

A lot of sites will mislead you. They say the average is 1% for e-commerce sites. I can tell you the average is like 0.02% for a lot of sites, it’s not even close to 1%. There’s 2 ways to go about it. One is try to get more volume to your site and hope that you’ll convert enough to make money. The second is to make it more finely tuned so the people you’re getting convert at a higher rate. I’m not saying do one and don’t do the other. I’m saying do both.

This is the path. This is the evolution of it. Wherever you are it can always be improved a lot. Again, there are two approaches: get more volume and make more sales even though the conversion rate is lower or increase the conversion rate enough to get the same number of sales with less traffic. The best approach is to do both: increase traffic and increase conversions.

And that’s why I’m talking about this. It will do both for you over time.

I got a lot more business. Once we had risen to that level of searches, the business was just starting, and then by that point it was probably close to $800,000 gross revenue a year, if you want numbers. It was struggling with almost nothing to actually being a viable business that was doing well.

This approach can make a huge difference. Again, it just takes time. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s an evolution.

Joe Putnam: Is there anything else you would add on the content side, or do you feel like we’ve covered that adequately?

Richard Jacobs: Right now my business model has changed, and I do SEO and pay per click and all that for a lot of attorneys. I’m seeing the same effects on all their web sites. It’s not just on this one site I saw the effect of long tail. I’m seeing it in major metros throughout the entire US, so it’s not like in Seattle it works but in Dallas it doesn’t work. It’s everywhere: rural or big metro.

In terms of the law, which is what I focus on now, I’m seeing it over different practice areas so it works for auto accidents, it works for DUI, and it works for divorce and estate planning. It’s all the same. Again, it’s working and I’m seeing it work not just on my site, but on well over 100 sites I’ve done SEO for.

It’s not just a one-time experiment that can’t be recreated. I see it everywhere and it continues to show up everywhere.

Joe Putnam: It seems like it’s a different strategy. A lot of people are paying attention to link building and backlinks, but with this approach you mostly just build out more content.

Richard Jacobs: Well, links that’s a whole discussion too. Links are important and you can’t ignore them, you’ve got to add them in too. But again, it’s just got to be done with this whole purpose. I may set up a new landing page and a new theme and it’s not working very well yet, not much traffic so I’ll get a few links to it. That’ll help. That’ll juice it and get it going.

Here’s another hidden benefit too. As you create content you’ll have a bigger and fatter web site. Whenever you add a new page it’s going to start drawing on the power you already have at this big site. Pages will rank very, very fast, especially for very nichey, non-mainstream type terms.

The problem after a point solves itself. You can put up a page on something very specific and it’ll rank the next day because it draws on the power of your site. It’s all linked into it, and it’s not a big mainstream thing that people compete for. It builds on itself, and you’ve got a good base.

Here’s one goal: if you commit to this process over a year you’ll be standing atop a nice mountain you’ve built, a mountain of content, a mountain of relevant pages and keywords plus quite a lot more business because now you know what you’re doing. You have a lot of expertise in your industry. This whole process actually teaches you how to perform better in your industry, which is a funny thing.

The stuff that Google does, people hate them for it, and I understand, but there’s actually a really good side to what they’re doing. They’re doing it for a very good reason. They’re trying to be better for their people, and if you follow what they’re saying, there’s a reason they’re saying it, and it’ll make you better for your customers and make you more money if you do.

If you really think about it and put aside your anger and your hatred of them and you try to follow their principles, maybe not to the letter, but you try to follow them, this is what it’ll do for you.

Joe Putnam: It’s also smarter because if you commit to it and do it for let’s say a year-long period, it becomes an investment in content that will rank over time versus PPC where you’re paying $5, $10, $20, $30, $40 per click, and you’re always going to have to pay that amount per click. This strategy has an investment side of it where the money you spend that first year is going to pay dividends over the next 5 to 10 years.

Richard Jacobs: Right.

Joe Putnam: Instead of charging you every time someone clicks on your ad.

Richard Jacobs: Again, most people, like I said, never think deeply about it. They just say it’s not working or they say pay per click’s too expensive and they throw in the towel or this keyword’s not working, but this one is, but you don’t know why. It’s like you’re a monkey with a laptop and you’re sniffing at it and using the laptop to crack open a nut instead of knowing what the laptop can do. That’s what happens.

If you never get beyond this ignorance, you’ll just be frustrated and angry and pissed off that this stuff doesn’t work. I’ve been there. If you take a little bit of time to understand it and work at it, it’ll be a million times better. The door will open up and it’ll work for you.

A Successful Strategy Can Be Below the Radar

Joe Putnam: I feel like this is a really fresh approach to SEO and a smart approach. One of the main things that I’ve taken away is that people who are willing to invest in content like this and willing to take the time or use the time it takes to do it will see a lot of benefit from it.

Again, one of the big benefits I see is if you have the one law office in your city who’s taken this approach you’re going to reap the benefit and not very many people are going to take the time and spend the money to do it. It is an arbitrage type of opportunity.

I’m excited about publishing this so we can get it out there for more people to read about.

Richard Jacobs:  I’ll tell you one other benefit: some of my guys that are the most successful are under the radar and they’re not ranking for the keywords that you think they would be ranking for. So for an outsider it creates a problem for me because someone says, “Well you’re working on John Smith’s account, but I don’t see him anywhere. Yet I always see him in court, so he’s getting a lot of cases, how are you doing it?” This strategy can be very successful, but be totally below the radar too.

No one’s looking at all these keywords that you’re showing up on. I’ll give you a very great example to finish off. For a law firm web site, a really great volume is 3000 searches a month, which is 100 a day. That’s a lot for a law firm. They’ll get a lot of calls every day if they get to that level.

Think about it, if you’re getting 3000 searches a month, I’m going to tell you right off the bat about 80% of them are different types of searches. That means you’re getting 2400 different things typed in each month. Now, how am I supposed to know which of those searches you’re showing up for? I only care about 10 keywords, you’re asking me to look at 2400. I don’t even know what they are. No one does until they show up for them.

They’re below the radar. They’re all going to be, for the most part, long tail searches that no one even thinks to look at. Another thing too is on those pages videos rarely show up, Mappers rarely show up, so there’s a lot less clutter. The top terms are cluttered with all kinds of stuff to distract you. These long tail searches are much cleaner. They look like the old-school Google searches with just search results, not much else.

Joe Putnam: Thanks, Richard for taking the time for this interview. It’s been incredibly helpful, and I can’t wait to for the next part in the series where we’ll focus more on the PPC side of things.

p.s. If you made it this far, you might as well leave a comment to show the world how dedicated you are to become better at driving organic and PPC traffic. Thanks!

About Richard Jacobs

Joe Putnam HeadshotSpeakeasy Marketing, Inc marketing manager, Richard Jacobs, helps lawyers who practice personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy, criminal defense, DUI, estate planning, and other practice areas use direct marketing strategies (such as Google Adwords) to attract a consistent stream of quality, retainer-paying clients.

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  • I’m also a fan and advocate for targeting long tail KW phrases. As the semantic web and conversational search via asking Siri and “OK Google” verbal search become more mainstream long tail Q&A content will not only rank well in the SERPs, they will convert well when the UX is done right.

    I visited Speakeasy Marketing site and noted the Alexa was north of 1 million? Curious why the 400,000 visitor traffic would have more impact on this metric?

  • I am a content writer for this very reason! This is such a great article. I a tiny bit died over it. Good work, team!

  • Interesting interview. It will be great if you can post the audio recording of this interview.

  • Neil,

    The 400k searches were for a national DUI lead gen site, not Speakeasy’s website.

    The story of what I learned with that website is played out this very day amongst all
    my attorney clients… Long tail represents 80%+ of their success.

  • Sam

    Took me about four days to finally read all of this! So glad I did, I’ve also been thinking about this for sometime. After going full circle from a content strategy to a link building strategy to now a combination of them both.

    Thanks so much for publishing.

    Sam

  • Daniel Graziano

    First comment which is a real shame as this is fantastic. Really enjoyed this write-up. Read it in parts over the course of the day and picked up some handy tips – great work guys!

    • Thanks, Daniel. I’m glad you liked the interview. It’s a long one to read but definitely worth it!

  • Dave Cornish

    Love this article. Spot on. Part of me is happy you are sharing the truth, and another part of me is happy that most people think PPC & SEO are mutually exclusive. Less competition for the people who “get it” 😛

    • I’ve been realizing more and more lately that SEO and PPC are a powerful combo. Yes, you have to pay to gather the data with PPC, but that also means you won’t waste time creating content for terms that don’t convert since you can identify that with your PPC campaign.

      Thank you for the comment, and I’m glad you liked the post.

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  • Zakaria Desai

    My first read on your blog, but what a read!

    Thanks to Richard for sharing his secrets and to Joe for his probing questions!

    Definitely be back 🙂

    • Crystal Mitchell

      this is the most well tested article that I have read in a long time on ppc with long tail keywords. This is a must read for anyone who is new or old to ad words or ppc. I will be back to keep learning and sharing all of this wonderful content with the everyone that is interested on increasing their R.O.I.

  • Karlil Amisial

    That was a great article. As a newbie in this area, I love it. This has given me a good perspective

  • Eddie Guchu

    i am a newbie in PPC. As an affiliate marketer who started off with bing a month ago, this article makes so much sense. I love the strategy. Its reassuring to read something that is not just hype. There’s a lot of ‘clutter’ promising results and downplaying the element of work involved and time investment to build this business. I discovered I don’t enjoy writing blogs so I honestly appreciate you taking the time to put this down:)