Small Business SEO

Without being able to appear at the top of Google search results, it’s difficult to drive enough traffic to generate “buzz” and get people talking about your content. Without plenty of people talking about and sharing your content, Google doesn’t view it as influential enough to appear at the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

This catch-22 might seem to be an insurmountable problem at first, but there is a solution that relies on solid keyword research and identifying appropriate “long-tail” keywords.

SEO definition: A long-tail SEO term is any keyword or phrase for which there is relatively little traffic and as a result, most likely, less competition.

If you are unfamiliar with Google keyword research for SEO, I recommend you read the following articles:

  • Small business SEO tutorial: How to attract higher quality Google traffic
  • “Google insights for Search” as the best free SEO tool for small business SEO
  • Local SEO guide: How to refine local search terms to master Google search
  • How to research SEO keywords: Five SEO tips from top SEO experts

How to find the right long-tail SEO terms to increase website traffic

Targeting long-tail SEO terms to increase website traffic via Google search only works if you are able to correctly identify the “right” SEO terms in the first place. The right SEO terms have the following attributes:

  1. Relatively low monthly traffic
  2. Relatively low competition
  3. Relevant to your blog or small business
  4. Are focused and targeted to your ideal audience

Often, great long-tail keywords are slightly more focused versions of the SEO terms that you aren’t able to reach the top page on.

For example, you might not be able to reach the first page for the SEO phrase “small business SEO“, but you may be able to create content that uses the phrase “small business SEO 2012“, or “small business SEO tips“, or “small business SEO new york“.

The long-tail versions of the SEO keyphrase are still relevant, and, in addition, serve to further focus the content.

Why targeting long-tail SEO terms works to increase website traffic

Traffic coming from organic search results drops off very quickly the further down the results you appear. Google search traffic coming from a highly popular search phrase may be negligible if you’re on the third page of results.

Traffic from long-tail SEO terms is lower to start with, but, get to the top of the search results for that phrase and you are guaranteed a large portion of that traffic.

The ROI (Return On Investment) for content that appears at the top of long-tail SEO terms is much higher that the return on content that appears lower down the search results for highly popular search phrases.

Comparing traffic for long-tail and popular SEO terms

According to Search Engine Watch, the Top Google search result gets around 35% of clicks for that SEO term. Appearing on the second page of search results will garner about 1% of the clicks for that SEO term.

Plugging those numbers into an example, shows just how effective targeting long-tail SEO terms can be:

SEO termTrafficCompetitionClicks (1st place)Clicks (2nd page)
SEO tips22 000high7700220
SEO strategy3 600medium126036

From this it is plain to see that getting to the top of the less popular SEO term (SEO strategy) brings in approximately 6 times the traffic of a second page result for the popular SEO term (SEO tips).

I should point out that Competition in Google Adwords refers to the bidding competition of the advertisers for that phrase – not how many articles there are competing for the number one spot. However, it is a valid metric since the more advertising competition, the more financial incentive there is to create content that appears at the top of the search results.

Benefits of long-tail SEO

There are a number of extremely beneficial side effects to targeting long tail SEO terms, including:

  • More focused content
  • More targeted traffic
  • Higher conversions
  • Implicit PageRank improvement for high competition SEO terms

In effect, what you are doing by going after long-tail SEO terms is improving the focus of your content so that the traffic driven to your site is more targeted. Having highly targeted traffic arriving on your blog or small business website means that you are able to increase conversions rates and make more money.

In addition, Google still keeps an eye on your overall content quality, keywords, and popularity. If you are persistent and consistent, eventually Google will have no choice but to start improving your rankings for more popular search phrases, because your content still contains these terms.

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