The starting point of an SEO campaign is to conduct keyword research. Keywords are the foundation of an SEO campaign since they are used by searchers that are looking for your products or services in the search engines. In order to optimize content to be found by target audience members, it’s important to figure out how they are searching and what kinds of keywords and keyword phrases are being used. Next, these selected keywords need to be implemented naturally into all web content that is published on your behalf, either on your website or content that is published elsewhere on the web (articles, press releases, guest blog posts, etc.). Targeting the wrong keywords will result in attracting the wrong audience, which won’t improve your conversion rate.
There are two kinds of keywords; broad and niche. Broad keywords have the highest search volume and are the most competitive. Niche keywords have less competition because they are much more specific. Niche keywords are also called long tail keywords because they include two or more words within the keyword phrase.
To the SEO novice, broad keywords are attractive because of their high search volume. If you target keywords with high search volume, your site will get lots of traffic- right? Unfortunately, that isn’t the way that it works. You need to think about the competition for a broad keyword. It will be very difficult to compete for a broad term like “shoes”. There are so many well established shoe retailers that it will be very difficult to rank for such a term. In addition, broad keywords don’t always achieve the most qualified visitors to your site. If a search term is broad, it’s harder to gauge visitor intent and it can result in a high bounce rate since your website isn’t the best fit for their needs. This is why it’s important to incorporate long tail keywords into the mix.
The goal of an SEO campaign is to improve visitor growth, and more specifically, to improve qualified visitor growth. You want to attract an audience that is interested in your products or services and that will in some way convert (make a purchase, fill out a lead form, sign up for a newsletter, etc.). Long tail keywords are important because they deliver traffic from a searcher that is farther along in the buying cycle. They are no longer in research mode and are transitioning to purchase mode. For this reason, long tail keywords produce more conversions than broad keywords.
Just because the search volume for long tail keywords may be low, that doesn’t mean that nobody is using those keywords to search. Typically when search volume is low, competition is low too, which means that there is a better opportunity to be positioned well in the search engines and achieve qualified traffic that will convert.