Maximizing Your Site`s Long Tail Keyword Traffic

Have you heard the term "long tail traffic" but don’t know what it is? Or perhaps you do know what it is, but you figure it doesn’t apply to your site’s traffic because you haven’t done any SEO around long tail keywords? Keep reading. Not only will this article explain what long tail keywords are, but it will also tell you why you should be paying attention to them — and how they may already be affecting your site’s traffic a lot more than you give them credit for.

If you are new to the search engine marketing world, then you may not yet be familiar with long tail terms. Website traffic coming from major search engines is a function of your content. The more content on your website, the greater the amount of potential traffic, which then results in higher website income or increased leads.

This theory roots deep in the concept of how search engines index your website and the actual behavior of web searchers. Google indexes all of your original content. A higher quantity of original content will increase the number of indexed pages in Google.

Now, it has been said that web searchers tend to type in long phrases instead of single terms in the Google search box. According to OneStat, most people use two- and three-word phrases when doing searches instead of a single term. This means that a majority of potential traffic will be driven by so-called “long tail terms.”

If your site features a combination of a higher amount of indexed pages with each page containing substantial original and useful content, then optimizing the website to get long tail traffic will not be very difficult.

In this tutorial, we will analyze how a website can be optimized well for long tail terms in order to achieve the desired traffic to increase its overall income.

To understand what long tail traffic is, we will analyze real world data from real websites. This data comes from a search engine optimized website (there is only one targeted keyword in this SEO campaign). But aside from SEO work which deals primarily with link campaign and site-wide onsite optimization (internal links and duplicate content), the website owner frequently adds content on a weekly basis, and has been doing this for a year. This content is original and aimed at the users. There are no SEO guidelines in writing this content, and the website adds this for the purpose of frequently updating the site. In other words, this frequently-added content is not even part of the SEO campaign.

We will attempt to analyze the value of traffic coming from the optimized term (one term only targeted on one page) versus the long tail traffic (naturally coming from the frequently-added content written by the website owner). Below are the interesting results:

Interesting, isn’t it? The optimized (competitive) term contributes only 17% of the website traffic, while the long tail terms coming from the un-optimized content written by the website owner are responsible for the remaining 83% of the website traffic!

This gives us the first rule in optimizing the website to get maximum traffic from long tail terms. It is the law of content: quality and quantity. 

The law states that, in any given website, the traffic from long tail terms (un-competitive terms) comprises 83% of the website traffic, while the optimized, competitive terms will only contribute around 17%. Thus it makes sense to add useful, original and quality content to your website frequently as it encourages the proliferation of long tail traffic.

Which of these terms returns a higher return on investment? Optimizing competitive terms is a common strategy employed by search engine optimization companies. They usually convince the website owner to avail themselves of certain SEO services because it costs less compared to running a pay-per-click campaign. This may seem true, but there is a better way to increase the return on investment.

Long tail terms offer a better conversion rate because they appear to be more specific, direct-to-the-point key terms relating to your website’s content and services. Even if we say the conversion rate of long tail terms is twice the conversion rate of competitive terms, the return on investment from these long tail terms is massive! Take a look at the following sample computation:

Example:

Total monthly website traffic from Google search engine: 10,000

Traffic coming from competitive terms: 1700 (17%)

Conversion rate: 0.5%

Cost of SEO campaign (links and onsite): $1500 (ridiculously cheap)

Profit per sale: $100

Total profit = 0.5% x 1700 x $100 = $850

Time to recover SEO cost ~ around 2 months

ROI after two months: profit/cost = $1700/$1500 = 1.133

Traffic coming from Long Tail Terms = 8300

Conversion rate: 1%

Typical time it takes to mature long tail traffic = one year (adding one item of content per week)

Total profit computed (after maturity of long tail traffic) = 1% x 8300 x $100 = $8300

Without much complex math computation, it makes sense that long tail terms will earn you a lot more profit than doing an SEO campaign. Looking again at the long tail curve:

It’s amazing to see how lazy those website owners are to simply neglect the importance of continually adding substantial and useful content to their websites. This massive amount of long tail traffic is an income opportunity that can be converted into paying customers. What’s more, that conversion happens at a much higher rate than that delivered by competitive terms in an SEO campaign.

As with all strategies, there are certain weaknesses. Long tail traffic takes time to mature. The above case study takes around one year to mature. This gives us the second rule of optimizing long tail traffic: the law of long term investment. 

This is analogous to investing T-bills in the financial market. Doing long term strategy with long tail terms does not have any associated risk, but it takes a long time to reach maturity. Contrary to search engine optimization that promises a huge amount of traffic in typically less than a year (six months in most cases), the associated risk is VERY HIGH! There is a high percentage of disappointment in SEO due to this risk and uncertainty in the search engine rankings.

The law of long term investment reminds any website owner to invest time in  slowly writing quality content for the website periodically and regularly. This strongly affirms the fact that content is king.

Now the big question is, why do we write our content for long tail term optimization? Before I explain this, it is important to note that writing your copy is completely independent from relatively current SEO techniques such as keyword density (which is rubbish and useless), keyword frequency, keyword prominence, etc.

There is only one thing very important to remember in writing content: “IT SHOULD BE USEFUL TO YOUR TARGETED READERS.” Many times, website owners are too lazy to write content and they hire content writers. Now the main question is this: can content writers address the possible needs of your readers?

Honestly, I think not. I think the best writer should be YOU, the website owner that has the full knowledge of your business, services and products. It why you have this business, because of the passion you have for this type of venture.

So share your passion, write your copy and do it on a periodic basis to constantly supply fresh content for your readers. It is amazing to know that with the amount of information you will provide on your site over time, the conversion rate will increase — because visitors will see lots of information that answers their needs. Lack of information is one of the major reasons for a very low or zero conversion rate.

Lastly, aim for at least 500 words with pictures. More than that is legendary, but less than 500 words appears lazy and ineffective for long-term strategies unless you are blogging. Bear in mind that if you write very little content, it makes your pages look highly similar due to template similarities. This means you may have to deal with the long-term issue of duplicate content, which is a real problem that is more challenging to deal with than getting a benefit from your content.

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