When it comes to suggesting long tail keywords, one of the most common issues we Search Engine Academy associates run into when advising clients or teaching students is they want to use the shorter, very popular phrases. Invariably, they want to use highly popular, very saturated single words or two-word phrases that are common in their business.

Use long tail keywords to rank faster in the SERPsNot that there’s anything wrong with wanting to use those words, except that their competition, which may well be national or international companies have already hijacked the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those words. I ask these folks how many years they have to be patient in ranking for these phrases. Almost all of them tell me they aren’t thinking in years, but weeks.

Well, I hate to bust their bubble (OK, I really don’t mind!), but when I show them round figures for the number of searches vs. the number of competing webpages (hundreds vs. millions), they get discouraged.

Long tail keywords are low hanging fruit. They may have very healthy search demand, and a low number of competing web pages. It’s so much less work to target phrases that may be very exact to rank higher. Once you’ve mastered some of these longer phrases, then you can go after the high demand phrases, but don’t expect miracles right away.

Long tail keywords may reflect exactly what’s on your website. If the phrase “mens hightop black basketball shoes” matches one of your products, why not use that phrase instead of “basketball shoes?” For one thing, anyone who types in that phrase and lands on your page is ready to buy. In a few short clicks, they’ve found what they want, and you make a sale! Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Or suppose you sell and install project accounting software. Think about the related concepts and phrases that support project accounting software. It just might be that you find a few long tail keywords that are easier to target and boost your pages faster in showing up higher in the SERPs!

Granted, it takes a little work to create copy around a long tail keyword phrase. But you can also look at it as an opportunity to create highly relevant, very useful content that just happens to line up nicely with Google’s guidelines on quality content. If you look at it in this light, then you’re going to be in compliance more often with Google webmaster recommendations. In turn, this lessens the chances you’ll get hammered with Google Penguin or Panda updates.

So, you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you don’t have to obsess over if you’re doing “white hat SEO” or not. You can use that energy for other things like creating more great content, participating in social media platforms to build relationships with prospects and get more sales.

So the next time you’re presented with long tail keywords, think of them as an advantage over your competition!

Until next time…keep it in the ditches!

All the best,