Before we address when to use a long tail SEO strategy – let’s first discuss what a long tail strategy is. Let’s imagine you have a website that sells gaskets. Ideally, you want to return search results for the simple search term ‘gaskets’ – however, there is considerable competition for this one word search term, and you are not ranking anywhere in the result pages for this term. A long tail SEO strategy would involve optimizing your site for longer search terms that have a much lower search volume, but are very targeted to your desired keyword. An example could be, instead of going after ‘gaskets’, you optimize for ‘quality gaskets’ or ‘rubber gaskets’ or even ‘quality rubber gaskets’. The longer the search phrase – traditionally – the less search volume there is, and hence there will be less competition. A long tail SEO strategy will involve optimizing your site for numerous long tailed search terms, whose individual search volume is much lower than the target term, but the volume of long tailed search terms equals or is greater to the highly competitive term. There were about 500k global searches for the search term ‘gaskets’ in May 2010. There were 1.3 million searches in the same month for long tailed search variants associated with gaskets.

So – When to use a Long Tail SEO Strategy…?

Volume is the key. Look at your target keyword(s) and gauge the monthly search volume. Then look at the Page rank of the sites that appear of the first page of Google for the same terms, and compare their Page rank to your own site. If there are 500k monthly searches for a keyword, and all of the top 20 sites returned in Google have a Page rank higher than yours – you will know to go for a Long Tail SEO strategy.

Key Word: Gasket
Monthly Search Volume: 460k
Average 1st Page Page Rank: 4.2

If your website has a Page rank of 2, you will not be able to break into the first page of Google for this search term – as the sites currently there are considered a greater authority on the subject. Over time, as your sites Page rank increases, you will move up the results. The Page rank increase of a website is a slow and natural process, much like the growth of a tree.

Long Tail Keyword: Industrial Gaskets
Monthly Search Volume: 590
Average 1st Page Page Rank: 1.4

If your website has a Page rank of 2, you have an excellent chance of breaking into the first page of Google for this much less competitive search term.

Replication is the key

By identifying the less competitive terms, and optimizing your site for them, you can start to build a steady stream of traffic associated to your target keyword, without being isolated to page 30 of Google. Remember – an industrial gasket is still a gasket. If you can get 10 hits per month for each long tail keyword you go for, and get traffic from 100 keywords you will soon have 1,000 visitors per month. The other side of this is search history – the more traffic that is referred to you by search engines for long tail terms, the greater the likelihood that you will begin to feature in shorter, higher volume search terms.

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