Typically when we start with new clients we find a similar approach has been taken previously by a lot of them, which is to target the head terms in their industry heavily and forget the mid to long-tail terms. It’s a common mistake that SEO agencies and managers make, which is easy to do. Reason being, that when you conduct keyword research in your initial SEO strategy development phases, those head terms of one or two phrases typically have much larger search volume and therefore make their way to the top of your keyword targeting list. Before I discuss this further, take a look at the graph above created by Moz.

Where we see great success for our clients (in most cases) is in focusing on and targeting the mid to long tail terms. Why’s that?

1. Less Competition

2. Larger Traffic Opportunities

3. Higher Conversion Rates

Based on the research above, 70% of searches are long tail, so naturally that’s where most of the traffic to be had is.

Less Competition

As you would expect, the longer tail you get, the less pages on the internet there are competing for that phrase. If you take the phrase “car insurance” for example, you have a very large pool of competition trying to get a piece of that pie. Expand this to “modified car insurance” and all of a sudden you are competing with a much smaller pool of websites. The “modified car insurance” phrase even starts to see forum results ranking on page 1, where “car insurance” has sites as large as Westpac.com.au ranking on page 3.

Larger Traffic Opportunities

As simple as the graph suggests, there’s significantly more traffic to be had in the realms of long-tail traffic. It could be as simple as this:

1. Head Terms Targeting: Top 5 Terms have 12,000 searches each = 70,000 searches

2. Mid to Long-Tail Targeting: 30 Terms have 3,000 searches each = 90,000 searches

This is a very simple example, but you can see how if you expand this strategy to create a large, ongoing SEO campaign, you start to expand significantly into areas where it is not only easier to rank but also offers more traffic. It’s a win win!

Higher Conversion Rates

This is certainly not the rule of thumb, but we often see much better conversion rates for mid to long-tail terms than we do on head terms. The reason for this is your typical path to purchase that a consumer takes. See the below example:

1. Research/Awareness Phase: “car insurance”

2. Consideration Phase: “compare car insurance”, “cheapest car insurance”, “car insurance reviews”

3. Intent Phase: “comprehensive modified car insurance”, “third party fire and theft insurance”

As the consumer goes through their research process down to purchase, the terms they search for become more refined. They start to search for product names, sizes, colours, details, brand names and more once they’ve found what it is they want to purchase. So based on this, targeting mid to long-tail terms brings in more traffic at the intent phase, which typically converts much better than those in the research or awareness phase. This is another large benefit of this strategy. You will make more sales converting 10 visits at 20% than 100 visits at 1%.

Biggest Hurdle With This Strategy = Content

Now, if you’ve read this post and thought “yes, I’m going to do this!” the first thing you must action is a plan to create the new pages on your site which are going to target these terms. It’s easily the part where I find businesses struggle to move forward with the mid to long-tail strategy, so you must find a plan for content development whether it be in-house or outsourced. Creating 5 pages and leaving them there to target the big terms is a simple process, but building 20 pages a month to grow your long-tail targeting causes resource issues for a lot of businesses. Get this right and you will steam ahead of the competition!