Flickr User SuperBoreen http://www.flickr.com/photos/superboreen/

Photo by Flickr User SuperBoreen

In the online marketing world, everyone seems to be talking about keywords.

But they’re missing something.

Everyone is talking about search engines and the importance of SEO. And while it’s no secret that good SEO can go a long way in helping people find you, it’s not just about the search engines.

It’s about the people who are searching.

That’s where long tail keywords come in. Long tail keywords are very targeted search phrases that are usually easier to rank for and specifically focused on your niche audience.  For example:

“inbound marketing” = generic keyword
“generate leads using inbound marketing” = long tail keyword

If you can focus on long tail keywords that YOUR target audience is likely to be searching for, you can avoid the slow months or years that it can take to see any meaningful growth in targeting a highly competitive keyword. Although you may not see the same volume, the traffic you’ll receive from searches for these long tail keywords is likely to be higher quality traffic. And because of that, you’re more likely to convert that traffic into leads (and from there, paying clients!)

Here are three steps for incorporating long tail keywords into your marketing strategy:

• Know your audience and what they’re searching for. Though it may sound obvious, you need to know – really know – who your target audience is before you start targeting long tail key words. When you know what your target audience really wants, you can stop focusing only on keyword popularity and instead on phrases that YOUR audience is likely to be searching for.

Put yourself in their shoes when you’re analyzing different keywords. If you’re selling B2C (business to consumer), the keyword phrases you’re focused on shouldn’t be expert jargon that a consumer would never be familiar with. On the flip side, if you are selling B2B (business to business), using industry terms or technical language is probably wise. Bottom line: you want to target keywords that are in line with how your target audience is actually searching.

In addition to this, it’s extremely helpful to use a keywords analytics tool to help you find good long tail keyword phrases and identify the terms that are driving the most traffic to your site. Once you know which keywords are actually leading to paying clients, you can focus on these keywords first.

• Use these keywords as the focus of your blog content. Incorporate the keyword into your blog title and then ensure that the body of your content delivers on that promise your headline makes. Whatever key words you choose, be sure that they’re actually aligned with your business. Regardless of how popular certain search phrases will be, if it doesn’t really align with what you can offer, don’t use that keyword.

As you create your editorial calendar, it’s helpful to use these keywords as the starting point for your topics. Not only does this ensure that each and every post is strategically crafted with this keyword in mind, it also is a great starting point for choosing a topic to write about!

• Focus on converting the visitors who are finding you through searches. Getting people to your website is the first step, but it’s not time to start celebrating just yet. Now that you have qualified traffic coming to you, you want to convert these visitors by moving them through your sales funnel using a lead nurturing campaign, which is a critical part of your online marketing strategy.

Once you’ve started the process of using long tail keywords, go back and analyze which keywords are actually bringing you the most revenue. You can track this by looking at what keywords are leading to the most leads, and from there, which of those leads convert into clients. (If you’re looking for a tool to do this, we use this tool for analyzing our keywords.)

It’s also helpful to measure the effectiveness of the content you’re creating using these keywords. For example, how long are readers staying on a post with a specific keyword? What content is getting shared most via social media? If a keyword you’re optimized for isn’t relevant or useful, you won’t see much. But when certain pieces of content are really hitting home with your audience, you’ll see more shares, more traffic, and longer time spent on that page.


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About the Author:                                                                                          

Plume & Post Marketing Strategist Katie HumphreysKatie Humphreys is co-founder and Chief Action Officer of Plume & Post. Find more musings from Katie on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest.

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