Getting ahead of the competition
You already know competition for ranking in search results is huge. To rank successfully, your goal should be to focus on a small, but vital aspect of your marketing goals, and write each piece of content for that small focal area.
It's easy to go with the crowd. It requires a little thought and creativity to define how you stand out in the crowd. Rather than go head to head with your competition, what if you could out-flank them? You can, and the way (unless you have tons of money to toss into this game) is to use long tail keywords in all of your online content.
Using long tail keywords
The term, "Long tail" has been around roughly since 2004, being popularized by a book by Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More." "Long tail" is most often a term used in SEO by the marketing industry to refine a keyword phrase to a specific idea, product, or service.
"Short tail" or "head" key words denote broad categories. Do an online search for "legal services" vs "legal services in Boston for estate planning" and you'll get the idea. Think drill down.
While it's certainly important for all industries to use long tail keywords, it's vital for the professinoal services industry. The professional services industry is vast. Effective marketers are using long tail keywords in every phase of their marketing. Why? Because unless you have massive financial backing to promote your blog (using PPC, social media,etc), you'll end up on page 2001 of seach results - geting zero page views.
Here's an example of a long tail seach: Let's consider a commercial cleaning company who has committed to doing inbound marketing. Which keyword phrase do you think would rank higher: "Best Way to Clean Floors" or "How to Clean Laminate Floors in 3 Easy Steps?"
Long tail keywords only work well be because of the way people are searching on the web. In any quality inbound marketing campaign, there needs to be a happy marriage between the way potential customers are looking for you, and your quest to find the ideal potential customer.
How to define and use your keywords
Defining and using keywords in your blog articles is a science, but it doesn't have to be that hard.
Here are three easy steps to get you started:
- Research keywords using an online tool.
- Determine the long tail audience you're trying to reach.
- Implement keywords in all of your content, especially fresh content, like your blog.
You'll find a confusing array of online keyword tools. For a long time, we used Google's Adwords Keyword Planner. It's simple, and will give you plenty of results to consider. Of course, they'll tempt you to buy some PPC advertising, but the tool is free, whether you buy ads or not.
If you want something uber simple, then head for Ubersuggest. Uber will give you plenty of results but no real metrics. Without metics, you're totaly shooting in the dark - a thing that's the major shortcoming of most SEO today: Lack of metrics.
You'll get some metrics with Google Adwords. Assuming you're on their site, logon using your Google account (you have one, right?) and enter some search terms. I entered, "How to clean laminate floors" from my example above. Here's what your data entry box should look like:
Once you've entered a keyword phrase, click "Get Ideas." Then, click the tab, "Keyword ideas." You'll be presented with a ton of ways people are searching for your keyword term.
Now, look at the right column under"Competition." Unless you are super over-confident in your blog's ability to rank high or plan to spend years of hard work, don't choose any phrases that rank high. It may be tempting, because not only those keywords, but also the volume of results will rank high.
But that's the point, you are going after lower ranked terms so that you can be found. Better to have something than nothing. Better to aim toward hitting page one of search results than consistently hitting page 10, right?
Worried about things like "keyword density?" Don't worry about that. Simply write as you always have but keep a mental focus on your keyword strategy. In the end, you'll find yourself actually using those keywords in your writing.
Remember, try to think like your "ideal" customer when researching keywords, don't try to compete with the more popular searches, and use your keywords in all your online content.