Why use ‘Long Tail’ Keywords?

The term ‘long tail’ was first used by marketer Chris Anderson to describe the strategy of finding less-competitive niche market buyers vs. broader markets, that single or two-word, short keywords will generate. Keywords are a cornerstone of inbound marketing.

Here at Soap Warehouse, we had some very difficult keyword problems. First, our major market, truck wash chemicals, can be a very large and hard market to find the type of customer we need. For example, just searching the word ‘truck wash’ can yield over 400,000 results and will first mainly show only physical Truck Wash locations or businesses. So we needed to add other words.

Here is where you have to start thinking like the person that you hope is out there looking for you, your product, or your service.

You must choose additional words to add to the others. I tried adding the word ‘chemicals’ but that generates over 700,000 results. Seems like we were moving in the wrong direction, but with this search, we can be found, as of this writing, on page 4 and have at times been on page 2 because of keyword phrasing. With usually 10 websites shown per page, being in the top 20-40 of over 700,000 results is not bad. But we did not start there. When I first started here over three years ago this same search would not find us in the first 50 pages! But you need to always strive to make at least the first page if not one of the top three of any search you can. So we started using the key phrases we wanted to be found for in our product descriptions, in our blog posts, printed articles, and even in Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. The more times the phrase you want to use is connected with you and back to you the better.

For instance, the words ‘best truck wash soap’ was a phrase used back in ’09 that we found was used to find our website. We learned this from checking our Google Analytics for all the keywords and phrases that were recorded as bringing someone to our site. When I first checked that phrase in Google we did not show up at all on the first 5 pages so I stopped looking and I did not have any idea how that first person got to us but that was fine. They used a phrase I was sure others were probably using or would use in the future and I wanted to improve our ranking. So I wrote a blog post and an article using that phrase. We shot up to page one almost overnight. Since then we have used that phrase in forum posts, and other ways to keep us on the first page. At this writing, we are #2 and #5 plus we have two other mentions on page one using a combination of these words even though they are not in that exact order. And these posts are not saying we have the best truck wash soaps, which can be seen as boasting or as blowing smoke at a potential buyer, but instead, they are telling a potential customer what they should be looking for to find the ‘best truck wash soap’, which hopefully will bring them to check out our web site and try one of our products.

You must first give potential new customers information they want or would like to have before you try to sell them. Most people are turned off by a strong, in-your-face, use-me attitude. Most people want to gather information, learn for themselves, and make informed decisions to choose you, your service, or product on their own without feeling pushed into it.

Now what about specific products? Here we also had an issue. Over 17 years ago long before the internet, our most popular truck wash was named ‘Brown Derby’ due to its color I guess, I have no idea I was not there, nor would I have chosen that for a name if it was being introduced today. #1 because the most famous ‘Brown Derby’ was a restaurant in Los Angeles, CA and now is a restaurant in Disney World and other less known locations across the country. So when I first came here if you put in the words ‘Brown Derby’ in Google you came up with pages and pages of listings for articles about the old ‘Brown Derby’ restaurant, their famous ‘Cobb’ salad, ‘Brown Derby’ deserts, Disney World reviews and just about anything else including headwear, but not our ‘Brown Derby’ truck wash. In fact the first mention of ‘Brown Derby’ at all was a link I found to a forum post from back in ’05 that had copied a product description of another product that was mentioned as ‘Brown Derby’ in it. Not what we wanted.

So when we first changed our website we included additional words to the ‘Brown Derby’ to help distinguish and target those trying to find our product. Words like ‘brown truck wash’,’ brown soap’, brown derby truck wash, etc. This pushed us up to the first page. And even though we are as of this printing sitting at the top spot on page one for ‘brown truck soap’ we are not there for that exact phrase, that is actually held by another company’s product in spot #3. We are in #1 out of 9,620,000 results because of our combination of these words, how many times they are used, and the relevance that Google placed on our site’s listing because of how they were used. Much to the dismay of the company sitting at spot #3, I am sure. See the actual page view: brown truck soap search

This illustrates that the complete content of your site is important not just the exact key phrase. And believe it or not, the #2 spot is being held by a company selling a truck-shaped bar of hand soap. This is why you have to constantly be adding new content and tweaking your existing content as new long-tail keyword phrases are found. Even reposting a blog or tweet can place you back up on top of a search that you may have slipped down the page.

So start researching your long tails and use them to get yourself found. I will show you how in our next post.