Understanding SEO: Long-Tail Keywords

By now we understand that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the use of terms or keywords, specific to a particular website, to assist Search Engines (like Google) in understanding what the site is about. There wouldn’t be much use in having your Photography website turn up in the results of people searching for Butcheries. So in the past, web masters doing SEO would use single words to optimise whatever website they are working on – if we are continuing with the Photography website example; SEO keywords like Photographer, Freelance, Photography, Images, Pictures etc. would have been used.


How Does This Type of SEO Work?

Since the Search Engine boom of the early 2000s, the pattern of searches have changed. People no longer search single words, in fact, 60% of all Google searches consist of at least 4 words.  This has given rise to Long-Tail Keywords – the SEO practice of keywording websites with more specific terms pertaining to their specific offering. This offers web masters a much needed break when it comes to doing SEO – they no longer have to battle the thousands of other websites out there keyworded in exactly the same way as their clients. Instead, they now have the opportunity to attempt to rank their clients in such a way that they place in the results of searches relevant to their offering – and allowing their clients to compete within their own niches.


What Does This Look Like?


Here is a visual representation of the way keywording works now. The left peak of the line going up exponentially represents the competition surrounding “Less Specific” keywords, in the case of the Photography website; the keywords like Photographer, Freelance, Photography, Images, Pictures. While the portion of the line that plateaus off to the right symbolises the competition around the “More Specific” Keywords.


A helpful way to remember this, as someone who works with SEO, is to see this graph as a summary of the amount of effort you would have to go through to rank your client’s website in a good position. Ergo, the less specific you are, the more work you will be putting on your plate. So be specific and realistic when ranking your clients’ websites, they will ultimately have better results and so will you. Your clients will have a lower footfall on their sites but a higher conversion rate – how can this happen?


Is This Good or Bad?

Here is the theory: People have changed the way they search because they got tired of their “Less Specific” searches returning unsatisfactory results. If you rank your client’s website accurately and specifically aimed at what your client is offering, the people landing on the website will be the ones who are specifically looking for what your client is offering. A simple way to think of this is as a fishing net, you pull up the net and see it full of fish. But there is a problem, most of the fish are too small to eat, and only two of them are big enough. So you use a different net that has bigger holes. Now the small fish swim through the holes and the fish that are large enough are caught. No, you are not catching as many fish as you were before, but the ones you are catching are the ones that put food on the table.



It comes as no surprise that making this change in SEO practices has yielded positive results, and judging by how populated the web is becoming, it stands to reason that future searches will only become more specific and detailed. But you, our dear reader, can rest assured that as soon as there is a significant change in search patterns, that we will write an article about it.


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