As an inbound marketer, your main goal is to get found by the customer. Within reason, you should do whatever you can to increase your visibility or ranking on Google. For small businesses especially, being a product page SEO expert is critical for competing with big retail sites. Customers prefer convenience, which is why it's better to rank higher on Google.
Since many big box retailers have already optimized for short-tail (less specific) keywords, your best bet for increasing your SEO ranking is to use long-tail keywords to minimize competition. The longer and more specific your keywords are, the easier it is to rank on them. Keywords that are more specific are usually referred to as long-tail.
Why Not Short-Tail?
The advantage to using long-tail keywords is that, although they are used less in search, a visitor who uses them to find your website is far more likely to buy. Long-tail keywords fit into a more specific niche than shorter keywords. With longer and more specific search terms, the chances of conversion increase. If you think about it from the consumer's perspective, it makes sense. As a consumer searches for a service or product they're interested in and gets closer to making a purchase, their search terms typically get longer and more specific. This is why optimizing for long-tail keywords is essential.
It seems slightly backwards to insist that optimizing for longer keywords that result in less search volume is actually a better strategy than optimizing for shorter terms with higher search volume. However, with the right research and data as tools, it's easy to see that leveraging longer keywords is a superior long-term SEO strategy.
For example, suppose there an average of 14,800 user searches per month for the phrase "pond care," yet there are only an average of 590 user searchers per month for the phrase "pond care products." This example, although simplistic, shows how getting specific with your search terms increases your chances of being found by the users who are meaningful to your business-those who are ready to make a purchase. By focusing on long-tail keywords, you can target your audience more specifically.
How to Define Long-Tail Keywords
There are plenty of places where you can find great long-tail keywords, and you don't necessarily have to spend money on an expensive professional service to do it. One of the best free keyword research tools on the internet is Google's Keyword Planner.
Google's Keyword Planner helps you build new campaigns or expand existing ones. You can search for keywords and ad group ideas, get historical stats, see how a list of keywords would perform, and create a new keyword list by combining several lists of keyword together. Keyword Planner is technically an AdWords tool.
Of course, there are also professional tools you can pay for to get more granular with your keyword research, but we won't go into any more detail about those solutions in this post.
Don't Go by the Numbers
Often, long-tail keywords won't appear to have a high search volume in tools like Google's Keyword Planner. Yet, they still pull in a lot of traffic. It's difficult to go simply by the numbers. Your best bet is to analyze user intent and write out a long list of words that address it, and do as much research on the buyer personas as you can.
The point isn't just to rank higher, it's also to convert better, and there are no guarantees. Building up SEO rankings takes time and consistency. Not only that, keywords must be combined with relevant and personalized content to create the perfect inbound marketing storm that results in leads and sales for your business. You must approach the inbound process from a holistic perspective. When all the parts of your inbound strategy are working together, that's when you'll begin to see serious results, especially if you're diligent about using long-tail keywords to strengthen everything from your blog posts to meta descriptions