If you are a small business owner or marketer, you probably have trouble competing with the big companies when it comes to ranking in the SERPs. SEO is a tough industry, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to take the road less traveled and get better results while investing less money. Here’s how:
First, it’s important to understand the basics of traditional search engine marketing and keyword research:
Your SEO Strategy
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about ranking as highly in the organic search results as possible. This includes the results you see in Google when typing something in the search bar. That is opposed to the ads that appear on the top and sides, which are part of the AdWords platform (paid advertising).
Whereas you can pay, via a bidding system, a lot of money to appear for virtually any results with AdWords, you need to take a different approach if you want to rank with organic results.
The first step is having the right keywords in your written content on your site. Google has to be able to crawl your site and match up the content with what people are searching for.
Secondly, you need to make sure your HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is coded correctly. If you don’t have the right back-end details, it could affect your ability to rank highly.
Thirdly, your content should be engaging and relevant. If it’s not, people will leave your site sooner and it could result in a “bounce.” When Google detects too many of these bounces, they assume your site isn’t serving up what people want when they search for that term.
Usually, the research goes like this:
- Pick a core keyword. Think of a core or “seed” word that you can create variations of. It should be something right at the heart of the problem you’re solving.
- Use a keyword tool like Google’s Keyword Planner. It helps you see how many searches per month a certain word or phrase is getting so you can determine the size of that market potential.
- Remove irrelevant or too-competitive keywords. You don’t want to rank for words that won’t drive the right kind of traffic or that will be so expensive that it’s not feasible to compete for them. For example, if you run a car dealership and want to rank for “car dealers in X City,” you wouldn’t want to compete to rank for “pictures of classic cars.” Sure, it might be related to cars, but it doesn’t have any purchase intent, making it meaningless for your company.
- Build backlinks. One of the main ways sites can rank higher is by getting quality inbound links from reputable sources. It acts as a sort of credibility indicator. It’s better to get links from a major source like CNN than a small blog that was created yesterday.
The point of using this above optimization for search engines is so you receive more traffic. Top search results receive an incredibly higher amount of clicks than any other results on the first page of Google. And, results after the first page virtually never get clicked on.
For this reason, many people believe they should compete for the most common words in their market. Unfortunately, this typically results in disappointment as it’s very difficult to outrank the bigger players.
The solution is to use a lower volume, long tail keyword solution and focus on keywords or phrases that may be less common, but much easier to rank for. Here is how to do that:
Interrupt Your Competitor’s Sale
Interrupting is all about meeting your prospect at a point where they are about to purchase from a competitor. For example, if your company is in the logistics software space and your competitor is Acme Logistics, you could make a big blog post called “Alternatives to Acme Logistics.” Now, when people search for Acme, they are more likely to come across your site as well, and you could absorb the sale.
Now that you understand the power of interrupting the buying process, how do you find these interrupting keywords?
• Use knowledgeable words and phrases people would use if they already have a pretty good understanding of your offering. These are people who have done research and are farther down the sales funnel.
• Hesitation Approach: rank in the results of people who seem to be hesitating about something. For instance, they may already know they want to buy logistics software, but they need some more information on it. Consider a blog post around “Top 5 Things to Base Your Logistics Software Decision On.”
Another way to rank for lower volume, long tail keywords is to use a popular term in your headline or article along with your desired words. For instance, when fidget spinners were wildly popular in early 2017, a competing toy company could have made a post such as “Are Fidget Spinners Really Safe for Your Kids?” In the article, of course, they would have outline the reasons that someone should buy their toy instead.
Offer Your Solution
Show the various ways in which your solution is better than the competition. When you use the techniques above to get people to click through to your page, you still need to do a good job of selling. Otherwise, you have traffic that doesn’t add value to your brand.
Why This Approach Works
At the core, why is the long tail keyword approach so effective? Look at the research!
Because there is lower competition, you don’t need to work as hard to rank in your niche. The major players are focused on the top level words that take tons of resources to earn and stay ranked for. Obviously, most companies or marketers won’t have the resources to match this. It simply makes more sense to focus on smaller pockets where you can dominate. Using long tail keywords in your content directs specific searches to your pages and helps moderate your target audience. It tends to more profitable and less of a headache. “Go deep, not wide.”
Highly Targeted Traffic
Generic traffic doesn’t help you much unless you’re a large media company like CNN or ABC. They rely on reaching the lowest common denominator. As a business owner, you need to be more specific. You only want potential buyers coming to your site. Whereas anyone and everyone might click through an article called “How to Be Happy,” only targeted traffic would click on something called “5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Retirement.”
Taking It To The Finish Line
Getting people on your site is the first objective of any campaign using long tail keywords. After all, you can’t get relevant customers if they don’t know you exist. But of course there is more than just that. Once they’re on your blog, you need to use a proven system to convert them to buyers, readers, subscribers, or attendees. But how do you do that?
You must win the attention of your audience if you want to persuade them in any meaningful way. Using targeted words and images are only a small part of this equation. If your headlines are not compelling, people may get bored or be dissuaded from reading further. Make sure you use eye-catching words in bold font to break up your articles and avoid intimidating readers.
Have you ever read an article part way through, only to be bored out of your mind and move on to something else? This was because the author didn’t make the content relevant and interesting enough to you.
They may have succeeded in making a great click-bait headline that showed up in the rankings, but they did a poor job of keeping you on their site. Don’t make the same mistake. At every turn, make your content focused on the reader, their challenges and goals, and your solutions to them.
Beyond creating interest in your target audience, you need to build an image of desire in the minds of your prospects. Just because they understand you have a solution doesn’t mean they want that more than holding onto their money.
To create a situation where your visitor is compelled to convert on the spot, you need to use powerful words that express the future they could have by moving forward. Additionally, you need to explain the consequences of not taking action. What will they miss out on, what will happen to their company?
No strategy is complete without action. You used a low volume, long tail keyword to get visitors. You did your research and used the steps above to empower them. Now it’s time to be bold: “Buy Now,” “Subscribe,” and “Share” are all classic, and proven, calls to action. If you’ve done your job right and worked to tailor your product to that particular buyer, you should have no problem converting that opportunity to a sale.
When it comes to SEO for your target audience, there are many ways to approaches. However, only a few of them will allow small to medium business to compete in a way where they don’t have to outspend the big companies using online marketing. The guide above will help you leverage lower volume words to get more targeted traffic that converts.