Should You Target Long-tail or Generic Keywords in your SEO Campaign?

There is great debate amongst SEO’s about whether to target large generic keywords or long tail keywords. Return on investment is the main concern for both SEO’s and their clients so it is therefore important to target the keywords which will make the most revenue. By having return on investment this not only has good implications for the growth of the company, it also may increase the SEO spend that the client has.

The Beginning

Searchers who are surfing the internet for generic information will more than likely start their search with a generic keyword e.g. running shoes. At this point the user does not know what type of running shoe they want, what brand to buy and what price they would like to buy it for. It is therefore useful to have top level categories on your website that will catch this traffic and show the user a top level overview of your generic products in stock that shows all options e.g. brand.

The Buying State

Once a user has decided what type of products they like the look of, many searchers will then start looking around on different websites to find the best price. This is often the stage where users will type the exact name of the product i.e. the long-term keyword, into Google e.g. Nike Shox NZ iD running shoes. The search results will then show the user all the pages that rank for this long term keyword.

At this point the user is in what we call a ‘buying state’. They know what they want to buy and are close to purchasing it when they find a price they are happy with.

We can see by this example why long tail keywords will convert more easily due to the users being in a buying state of mind at that point in their search. Not only are long term keywords better in terms of conversion rate (if your price is right), they are also easier to rank for. It is important to stress that even though you may rank well for these long tail keywords, if your landing page is irrelevant or your products are expensive you will inevitably struggle to convert the user.

Which is Best?

Google Analytics will tell you which keywords are sending traffic to your site and will also tell you which keywords are converting into sales. Look at the keywords that converted in comparison to where they rank in Google and see if there is any correlation between the two. You can then look further down the list of long tail keywords which are not converting so well but do rank well and discover that there is something undesirable about price or the landing pages that are turning people off from purchasing. These could easily be weaknesses that you can turn around into quick wins very quickly.

Long tail keyword strategies will work for companies that do not necessarily have a strong brand in the first instance. Short tail keywords can convert more easily as customers will have brand trust with that particular seller.

It is recommended to have bigger keywords in your sights however by starting from the ground up targeting the long tail keywords will help keep your SEO campaign afloat whilst you build links in a natural fashion towards the larger generic keywords.


About the guest author: Emma Welsby is an SEO Consultant at I-COM, an internet marketing agency specialising in offering Web Design/Development, PPC, Social Media Marketing and SEO services in Manchester, England.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

One thought on “Should You Target Long-tail or Generic Keywords in your SEO Campaign?”

  1. So far I have used only generic keywords for my business, but after reading your post I would like to promote my site for some long tail keywords as you said competition is very less for the long tail keywords, so it is easy for me to promote it, anyway thanks for the guidance..

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