Ranking a website for profitable keywords is at the heart of search engine optimisation (SEO) and remains one of the best ways to attract targeted traffic.

The only issue is the increasing competitiveness of the online landscape.

Ranking for competitive keywords is often an arduous process that can take weeks and even months to begin showing results, time that most businesses cannot spare. Targeting such keywords is not only expensive, but can also prove risky if it fails to convert traffic.

One highly effective approach is to target long tail keywords.

What Are Long Tail Keywords?

Take a look at the following image:

A search for red Nike men’s running shoes” is a perfect example of a long tail keyword. While keywords such as shoes” and men’s shoes” will have higher traffic levels, the probability of conversions is also much lower.

Attempting to rank for them is a fruitless exercise that would require a significant investment.

Why Long Tail Keywords Matter

Targeting long tail keywords is a highly cost effective method to market a website and can often produce much faster results online. These types of keywords tend to have:

  • Less competition

Websites that target long tail keywords also protect themselves against algorithm updates.
Ranking for a few competitive keywords in your industry can generate new leads and sales for your business. But it can also be risky. A ranking update, such as the most recent Penguin 2.0, can potentially reduce those rankings overnight.

So how do you increase traffic to your website through long tail keywords?

Step 1: Keyword Research

The same approach also works well for local businesses.

These keywords can prove extremely profitable for your website that your competitors may have otherwise missed or completely overlooked.

Step 2: Optimise For Long Tail Keywords

The next step is to decide which keywords to target. Not every keyword returned from the AdWords Keyword Tool or Suggester will be relevant. Start by narrowing down the list for ones that have the most potential with relatively low competition.

Relevance is absolutely important.

Including content that is not relevant for your website could reduce its authority. The quality of the content is also equally important. Attempting to build hundreds of pages without any regard to quality is likely to lead to ranking penalties.

Adding new pages needs to be a carefully planned process that adds value for visitors. Optimising a page starts by adding the relevant keywords in the:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Headers
  • Content

Always include keywords naturally.

Stuffing your content with keywords or creating duplicate content is exactly what the Google Penguin update targeted and should be avoided at all costs.

Targeting long tail keywords is no guarantee it will start ranking. One of the most effective ways to push rankings higher for certain pages is to build links to those pages.

This can be done by:

  • Submitting guest posts to authority sites
  • Posting updates on social media networks
  • Publishing relevant press releases
  • Requesting links from webmasters
  • Using article directories

These techniques are highly effective and can be done to increase rankings for long tail keywords. By focusing on delivering quality and relevant content, your pages also have a much higher chance of attracting natural links.

Step 4: Use Web Analytics

Using a tool such as Google Analytics is absolutely essential to track your traffic levels. This tool can be used to mine even more long tail keywords for future campaigns. Conversions can also be tracked within Analytics so you can easily measure how well certain keywords convert.


Publishing a few pages will not likely make a drastic difference but a content marketing plan that incorporates long tail keywords could make a huge difference in your bottomline. Every effort should be made to target keywords with the most impact instead of targeting random phrases.

SEO is a never ending process and the amount of effort you put in is exactly what you will get.