A few weeks ago we conducted an in-depth interview with Richard Jacobs of Speak Easy Marketing, Inc. The short version is that Richard successfully used long-tail content to generate 400,000+ organic searches in a single year for one of the most competitive industries—law.
Anyone who has dabbled in keyword research knows that legal terms are some of the most expensive and competitive keywords out there, and getting even a fraction of the traffic is both expensive and a huge accomplishment.
So what does Richard’s outstanding accomplishment mean for search marketers?
It means there are other ways to capture traffic other than by following typical short-tail keyword strategies. All you need to do is think outside the box and creatively alter your thinking, research approach, and marketing strategy.
As mentioned earlier, we posted this interview on our blog a few weeks ago with insights on how you can use long-tail content to generate more traffic. While this post was one of the most insightful of all our posts, it was also one of the longest.
We recognize not everyone will have the time to read over 7,000 words of content, but we also know the lessons learned from the interview are invaluable to internet marketers. The goal of this shorter post is to summarize the article up for you and to present the five most important lessons learned from the interview.
Step #1: Target long-tail keywords instead of short-tail
In highly competitive industries, it’s rare that targeting a short-tail keyword will pay off like you want it to. Instead of generating a lot of useful traffic, you will often end up burning through your budget at lightning speed with little return on investment due to the competitiveness of ranking for short-tail terms.
If you’re working within a competitive industry, begin targeting long-tail keywords instead of short-tail keywords.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Add pages to your site with long-tail keywords strategically placed in the content.
- Write articles with answers to common industry questions embedded in the content.
- Write as many articles as possible on relevant long-tail keyword themes.
The key here is to create as much content as possible that will help you to rank for long-tail terms.
Step #2: Start thinking in terms of keyword themes, not just keywords
One way Richard tapped into more traffic sources was by expanding both his thinking and research from short-tail words to keyword themes. In other words, instead of going after the industry’s most popular and competitive terms, he recognized that relevant traffic comes from a large number of search terms that hardly anyone is targeting.
Richard used the example of the highly popular keyword “DUI test” to illustrate his point. Instead of just writing content with the word “DUI test” in it, he would think about all the reasons why someone might fail a DUI test, and focus his content on those themes.
Everyone has a different situation, and everyone may fail a DUI test for a different reason. For example, one individual may have failed a DUI test, because of a bad knee, and another person may have failed because of a weight problem. Someone else may have simply had difficulty with the pen test. All of these are drastically different situations, and each of these individuals will probably type in a different long-tail search term relevant to their situation, rather than simply typing in “DUI test.”
As such, it’s important to generate content around search terms that would apply to each of these individuals. Such as:
- “I failed a DUI test, because I’m overweight. What do I do?”
- “I had difficulty with the pen test and failed the DUI test.”
- I’m overweight and didn’t pass the DUI test.”
When you write content around relevant and common questions that different individuals may have, you have a much broader chance at being able to match your content up with the right searcher, be helpful to readers, and capture traffic from these untapped long-tail searches.
This means in order to rank well for an industry theme, it’s much more important to generate content around long-tail keywords and keep an open mind about what types of long-tail keywords people are searching for than it is to keep a narrow minded focus around a short-tail keyword like “DUI test.”
Step #3: Customize your landing pages to match long-tail keywords
One common mistake of internet marketers is using a generic landing page for a variety of different PPC keywords. While you may be getting clicks, you may not be seeing the conversions you would like. This is because you’re not tailoring your landing page to be extremely relevant to the search.
Instead of leading all your keywords to one landing page, a good strategy is to have different landing pages for different long-tail keywords. This means you may have 60 different highly searched long-tail keywords, and you would have 60 unique, highly focused, and relevant landing pages to match those keywords.
The advantages of this method are endless. While it takes a lot of additional work, and help from an excellent content writer and a designer, it will pay off in the long run. First, it will help you build out your site, so Google will have more content to index and share with searchers. Second, it will keep your SEO and PPC campaigns relevant, and increase your chances at conversions.
Another important piece of information Richard Jacob’s offers about landing pages is to make sure you offer links out from your landing pages. You don’t want visitors to be trapped with nowhere to go. You want to offer them as many opportunities to find more relevant content on your site as possible, so give them a way out by providing links to more information. Of course you will want to design the page nicely and keep it well organized, or it will defeat the purpose of serving the searcher, and might confuse them instead.
Step #4: Think in terms of providing value to real searchers rather than on bidding on broad match terms
As Richard continued to expand the way he thought about how searchers might find his clients (through various long-tail keyword search terms), he noticed that long-tail keywords received both clicks and conversions.
Additionally, he states that when you focus solely on short-tail keywords, you’re missing out on 70% to 80% of the market. 70% to 80%! That’s insane, and goes to show just how much value can come from thinking outside the box.
It’s so easy for any search marketer to get caught up in a bidding war over popular short-term keywords, but always stop and ask yourself, “Are these keywords actually converting?” Also ask, “Is this bidding war really paying off in the long run?”
It may be more cost effective, result in more conversions, and help you reach that other 70% to 80% of the market if you generate content around long-tail keywords, and bid on those long-tail keywords in a more targeted way.
Step #5: Give your searchers options
Let’s say you’re purchasing a new car. When you interact with the salesman, they will answer all of your main questions about the car, but when the sale is about to be finalized, they’ll give you additional options. They will offer you leather seats, dual air conditioning, Satellite radio, and more to make all your new car purchase dreams come true.
People like options. And, so do searchers.
Jacobs gives a few important tips about how to give your searchers options. They are as follows:
- As mentioned above, when creating landing pages, offer links out to other content, so your searchers have options to find other relevant content.
- Do also include calls to action to entice people to take whichever action you’d like them to take, but don’t annoy them with “BUY NOW” buttons everywhere they look. It’s ok to ask for a sale or a call, just don’t annoy people and give them an option to find more information if that’s what they’re interested in.
As a quick review, the top 5 lessons learned from this interview with Jacobs are:
- Target long-tail keywords instead of short-tail
- Start thinking in terms of keyword themes, not just keywords
- Create hundreds of pages on your site that target long-tail terms
- Bid on long-tail terms that convert and not just short-tail terms with super high competition
- Give your searchers more options than just to “BUY NOW.”
If you can take the time to pull back the layers of the first keyword you think of, examine it in detail, and then target new long-tail keywords, and develop a keyword theme for your content, you’ll be well on your way to targeting 70% or 80% of searches you weren’t able to precisely target before.
Ashley R. Cummings is a freelance writer, specializing in online marketing, education, and travel. Connect with Ashley on Facebook or on Google+, and learn more about her on LinkedIn.