How do you go about creating content for your site? Do you run with the first idea that comes to you or do you take time to research industry related topics and trends? It can be difficult to know where to start and to know if you’re going in the right direction. Yes it’s easy to target generic terms with high search traffic, but will your content actually be placed above the competition in the search results and will people actually view it? We decided to create a brief guide that explains how to target long tail keywords and the tools that can help with this process.
Understanding Your Industry
It’s important to have at least a brief understanding of the industry you’re going to be talking about. You’re going to need to start with an idea that you can build out the process from. For instance if you’re creating content for someone in insurance, you’ll need to know what sector of insurance they cover (e.g. landlord) and have a brief idea of industry related topics (e.g. rent arrears).
Answer The Public and the Google Keyword Planner are great tools to start with
If you’re really stuck or unsure of what is covered in someone’s industry there are tools to help. Answer The Public and Google’s very own keyword planner offer suggestions of queries searched for, in relation to a broad or specific topic. In general the more specific you get with queries into these tools, the better the chances of finding a niche or long tail phrase (we’ll cover these tools more later).
Another way of finding a topic to start with, is to analyse your competitors sites. If they’re all talking about the same thing (i.e. why rent arrears aren’t a problem any more) then the chances are it’s something you should be talking about too. That’s not us saying to copy their exact idea… and we’re definitely not saying copy their content… but use the topic as a starting point for your own piece of content.
Note: We’ll be using Landlord Insurance and Rent Arrears as our generic topic throughout the article
Answer The Public
Created by Coverage Book, Answer The Public brings up a selection of commonly asked questions around a specific topic. Who, what, when, why and other phrase variations of your keyword / topic are provided. The phrases provided highlight, both, the strengths and limitations of the tool. So when we search for Rent Arrears we’re provided with some nice long tail keyword phrases such as “rent arrears deductions in universal credit” and “can rent arrears be included in a debt relief order”. The problem is that we are only given subjects and phrases that include the term Rent Arrears. This is the point we revert to the Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner
To use the keyword planner you’ll need an AdWords account. This tool presents you with the figures on the number of searches keyword phrases have per month. It also provides you with related keywords, which don’t always include your specific phrase. You can also search for multiple keyword and phrases at the same time.
We know from using the tool that “Rent Arrears” has 1,900 searches a month and that the estimated cost for a PPC bid is £2.40, with low competition. When targeting keywords the search traffic shows us that if we create content around a keyword we can expect to see traffic to our site once we are ranking well. The competition and suggested bid allow us to make an informed decision in whether to try and compete for the keyword terms. If competition or bids are high then it may be worth looking at other avenues. If competition is low and suggested bid is low, you can see that there may be an opportunity to target a keyword or phrase.
You can also double check phrases found in Answer The Public. We looked at the results of the two long tail phrases:
As you can see rent arrears deductions in universal credit came up with zero search traffic which is why we validate our findings from Answer The Public. The second term shows that 10 people a month search for that phrase, even if competition is high. The indication that there is no suggested bid on the term almost contradicts the fact that competition is high. So we conduct a quick Google search to see for ourselves. We’re presented with four ads and a featured snippet from Citizens Advice. That would indicate that competition is pretty high. By doing this we’ve also validated the results we’ve received back from Google.
The final data we receive from Google are the keywords associated with the ones we’re looking for. You’ll receive a selection of generic terms (the downside to using Keyword Planner) but you’ll also receive terms that you may not have thought of before such as “grants to help with rent arrears” and “I need help paying my rent before I get evicted”. You can filter out the long tail phrases and choose from the ones with good traffic, low competition and ones that match your target audience.
There are other tools to help you to decide topics. Buzzsumo provides you with lists of the most searched content in regards to keywords entered. It allows you to see, not only what others are writing about, but how much interaction and engagement they’re getting too. You can even combine this with your outreach process to see sites that are linking to a particular piece of content.
Google, once again, come in handy with a couple of secondary tools that can help identify long tail keywords and topics. Their Google Trends platform allows you to see related phrases and topics in relation to your keyword search (only one search at a time). These topics are all “on trend” so you know they’re popular at the time of content creation.
The second tool Google offers is available to anyone, anytime they search! If you scroll to the bottom of the search results you’ll see a section titled “Searches related to [insert keyword term]”. You don’t receive many options, and some aren’t even classed as long tail, but it’s yet another option that can be utilised.
The Long Tail
Targeting long tail keywords is essential in an SEO and is something we use as part of a wider content marketing strategy, which in turns plays a key part in the integrated digital marketing campaigns we deliver. The generic, well-know, high search traffic keywords can get monopolised by one or two of the largest brand within an industry. Apply that to competitive areas such as insurance and you can find yourself unable to compete. Sites like Compare The Market spend millions across the overall marketing landscape. If you’ve not got this sort of budget or are finding it difficult to compete in your industry, maybe try targeting some long tail keywords.
With less traffic (generally) and less competition (generally) it should be easier to get your content into a competitive position within the search results. If you can rank for long tail keywords, with some traffic (even if it’s only 10 searches a month), and you can replicate this across numerous keywords, then you’ll end up driving a fair amount of people to your site.
When implemented over time, you may find yourself getting more traffic from long tail keywords (combined) than from one generic key term. It also spreads your risk. If you stop ranking for a generic term, you may lose most of your traffic. If you’re spreading your bets across multiple long tail keywords, it is unlikely you’ll ever see a significant drop in traffic if you suddenly stop ranking for a specific term (barring a penalty).