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One of the first things new marketers learn is the importance of keywords. These are the words by which your customers find you when they explore the search engines in hopes of getting the relevant results.

Keywords are such a critical component to being found online that e-commerce expert Gerry McGovern, in his book ‘Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand,’ christened them “customer care words.” These care words represent the things your customers care about, and they turn to the Web to the find the answers they seek. If your keywords match their ‘care words,’ your website is more likely to be found, and far more likely to be relevant to the person doing the search.

Competition, however, is stiff in the big cyber world. While a decade ago you would have stood a decent chance of being found using the term ‘dog training,’ today there are 124 million people vying to be found using that same phrase.

Narrow Your Niche By Using Long-Tail Keywords
So how do you stay afloat in the tumultuous seas of search engine competition? Simply put: long-tail keywords. Instead of using ‘dog training,’ use a few more detailed and descriptive words that will help whittle away the competition. By using long-tail keywords like ‘clicker dog training’ (2,240,000 searches) or ‘gentle dog training’ (2,970,000), you’ll drastically reduce your competition while narrowing the scope and focus of your message while increasing relevancy to your target audience.

Long-Tail Keywords: Drill Deep
Adding another word or two to convert from a simple keyword phrase to a targeted long-tail keyword phrase helps you narrow your keyword funnel. But to really increase your odds, (while using laser-like focus so your target market can find you) don’t just drill deep, drill deeper still.

Adding still another word to your phrase reduces your competition even more. ‘Clicker dog training methods’ takes you down to 474,000 and ‘gentle dog training for pit bulls’ takes you down to 257,000.

Build Your Brand and Your Rank
Now that you’ve drilled deep, you can begin to cast a wider net by segmenting your market. Just as ‘gentle dog training for pit bulls’ reduced competition, you can add a page to your site for a variety of breeds which will help you attract a broad swath of people seeking breed-specific advice for their dog.

Even though the clicker training methods may be the same for every breed of dog, by having a page addressing specific breeds (i.e., ‘gentle dog training for terriers’, ‘gentle dog training for poodles’, etc.) you’ll greatly expand your reach across the clicker training market.

Web masters commonly use geo-targeting to take a niche and break it down via market segmentation. ‘Dallas plumber’ will gain you some exposure; smart Web masters take it several steps further by adding pages for ‘Fort Worth plumber,’ ‘Arlington plumber,’ ‘Garland plumber,’ etc.

Using market segmentation will ensure you catch as many leads as possible – ones that are keenly interested in what you are offering because you are addressing something very specific to their needs and wants.

The Last Word in Long-Tail Keywords
So get cracking and start using long-tail keywords on your website and in your business marketing. By using long-tail keywords, you’ll not only reduce your competition, but be highly relevant to those who find you through their search.

Mary E. Davis is a recovering freelance writer who found financial success through the world of online marketing. If you’re looking to start an Internet business to earn extra income online, then stop by – a site where moms connect in a safe, nurturing environment to learn about internet marketing and how to succeed online.

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