The concept, importance and background of long tail traffic coming from search engines was previously discussed here: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Maximizing-Your-Sites-Long-Tail-Keyword-Traffic/.
In particular, one website with the following features was examined.
- Periodic publishing of content (at least 450 to 500 words per post).
- Uses WordPress.
- Title tags optimized for the search engines (using targeted keywords in the title) for every post, not only the home page title tag.
- Sitewide links optimized for the search engines. The links use the post title tag as the anchor text.
- Website has no search engine penalty.
- Website has reputable backlinks.
This is the pie chart of the site’s traffic distribution:
You might notice that the Google search engine traffic coming from optimized terms targeting the home page only accounts for 17 percent of the site’s traffic, as compared to 83 percent coming from the entire website’s posts or content.
Another confirmation using another website with the same features as above, but in a different niche, reveals a much more astonishing result as to the effects of long tail traffic to a website:
It shows that the home page only receives 4.10 percent of the website’s traffic as compared to the rest of the pages, which are responsible for 95.90% of the traffic.
If you would like to know how the above data are being gathered and analyzed (for similar testing or benchmarking results with your own website), take the following steps:
- Log in to your Google Analytics account.
- Under “Overview,” click the website under “Website Profiles.”
- Under the “Dashboard” sidebar navigation, click “Traffic Sources.”
- Under “Top Traffic Sources,” click “Google.”
- Export all records (not just the top 10 keywords) to an Excel spreadsheet.
- Filter the records coming from the home page (/) and the rest of the pages, sum them up and then analyze.
- The sample tabulated results are those shown in the previous screen shot.
As to how these websites manage to get such a high percentage level of long tail traffic, that is the topic and objective of this article.
Common mistakes SEO companies make
One of the obvious mistakes based on the above results is that most SEO companies focus solely on a single optimized page, most commonly the home page. Bear in mind that the two above websites have also optimized their home pages (with links and content). However, one thing that most SEO will ignore are the inner pages. Unfortunately, according to the principle of long tail traffic distribution, this is where most of the traffic will come from.
Instead of focusing on a single page like the home page, why not divert or spread the strategy to the rest of the pages of your website for a much higher overall traffic level? Bear in mind also that the targeted keywords of the two above website home pages rank well, in top 10 positions in Google. But even though they both rank high, the traffic from the inner pages is outperforming the traffic coming to the home page.
So if you are an SEO client, make sure you ask the SEO company about their long term strategy to increase your website traffic. If they focus solely on one page at a time, as opposed to all of the website’s pages, then go away; you will end up spending a lot for these campaigns and not getting a high level of traffic from your inner pages.
The conversion rate of your website is still very important, but it takes traffic to convert; so this tutorial discusses how to get a lot of traffic on inner pages instead of focusing on a single page.
The strategy will be very simple. It all starts with the home page but when the time comes to optimize those inner pages, optimizing them one by one is not a good strategy – instead, we’ll implement a more common and generalized optimization strategy.
The first thing you should have: authority and trust for your website
Think of powerful, authority and trusted backlinks coming from related websites as water pressure entering the main pipe. Your main pipe is your home page, and the inner pipes are the internal links pointing to inner pages.
This means that the primary driving force to rank inner pages (for long tail traffic optimization) is to first get powerful links pointing to your home page. There are two reasons for this. First, the link authority will spread to the inner pages, increasing "pressure," which means your inner pages will rank faster, even without links from other domains pointing to them. (Remember, the home page links to your inner pages).
Second, if you manage to rank the home page keywords pretty well, it is a sign that you have managed to get the authority you need to power up the rest of your inner pages.
So how you find powerful backlinks that can push inner pages to rank?
- Get them from the same niche as your website. If your website is all about SEO, then get them from SEO Chat, Seomoz, Searchenginewatch or even Matt Cutts’ blog.
- Make sure you have great content to attract links. Generate some level of curiosity among readers of those sites, and they might end up linking to you.
- You can also be proactive by visiting those websites first, and then try to make friends with the people on (and behind) them. Lots of techniques will do; commenting, helping them in forums, helping other users, etc, can attract some attention to you and to your website.
Adding new content periodically
Most websites looking for SEO help, whether they’re business websites or simply bloggers on the Internet, are sometimes very lazy about adding content periodically. This is also true for e-commerce websites.
If you examine the data I presented earlier,, the more content on your website, the higher the chance the search engines will index, pick up those keywords and then return that page as a search result of a query for you to get long tail traffic.
This means you should be adding content periodically. As to how much and how often, that’s up to you. The recommendation given most is to add one post per day at around 450 to 500 words, if you really have the time and dedication to work on your website or blog.
This content should all be original, helpful, interesting. Specifically, there are three points that are the most recommended specifications.
First, each post should be around 450-500 words of content.
Second, the title tag should be around 60- 68 characters so that it will look descriptive and accurate. So for example, instead of using “Cheap Widgets,” you should use “Cheap Widgets: 45 inches Codex Model New with 50% Discount.”
Tip: The longer your title tag (with the correct mixture of targeted and important keywords), the higher the page will rank in search engines, due to higher chances of relevance matching.
Third, add some pictures to make the content more interesting. Videos are also recommended. Make sure you have the rights to publish or use the pictures and videos.
To research good keywords to target, as well as researching ideas for writing content, you can use Google’s keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
It is recommended that you target easier keywords, such as those keywords which appear to be specific but with less exact match traffic (< 100 per month for example), because they will tend to rank more easily than competitive ones.
You should then include the targeted keywords found in the Google keyword tool in the inner page title tag. For more details about the new Google keyword tool, you can read this tutorial: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Choosing-Keywords-Help/The-Google-Keyword-Tool-a-Closer-Look/
Linking to related content internally
Now that you have well-placed content and title tags, you should link that content to related pages in your website as well. These links will help spread link juices to related content, thus helping them to rank better in the search engines.
This is the same concept as getting inbound links from external domains pointing to your website. You can also apply this concept to your internal pages, linking related pages to each other using the title tag as the anchor text.
If you are using WordPress, you can use the “Yet Another Related Post” Plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/yet-another-related-posts-plugin/). This works by analyzing a specific inner page’s content, and then presenting a list of related posts containing links to related inner pages.
Take advantage of the internal linking strategy to help spread the link juice you have earned from other websites. A good example is Wikipedia.org; if you visit a certain Wikipedia result from Google search, you will notice that the Wikipedia article contains links pointing to related pages within their website.
Prevent duplicate content on your inner pages
The last but still very important strategy is to prevent duplicate content issues on your inner pages. It is recommended that you read the following tutorial for more details on duplicate content detection and prevention: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Duplicate-Content-in-SEO-Detection-and-Prevention-Techniques/
This will let Google properly rank canonical pages, and make the search engine bots crawl your website more efficiently.
So what are the overall benefits? Since Google makes it easy to rank the inner pages of your website, when the long tail traffic starts to pick up, your website will become stronger because some of your website readers might link to one of your inner pages (coming from forums, related blogs and websites for example), thus helping to improve your website’s overall link profile.