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September 19, 2012
Use Long-Tail Keywords to Get Targeted Visitors
In today's highly competitive online marketplace, one of the keys to success is having a solid content marketing strategy. Having lots of great content available at your website sets you up for naturally receiving tons of long-tail keyword traffic that you might otherwise miss out on.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keyword phrases are not simply those that contain a lot of words as many people believe. While a keyword phrase made up of three or more words may be considered part of the long-tail, not all of them are. In fact, it's possible to have some two- or even one-word keywords that are part of the long-tail. This is due to the fact that long-tail keyword phrases are simply words or phrases that are not searched upon very often. While those may sound like keywords you probably wouldn't care about, the fact is that when taken all together, they can make up a large portion of the traffic to your website. The beauty of the long-tail is that pretty much every website gets found for them naturally simply by having any content at all. 
Content Sites and The Long-Tail
Sites such as a news sites or blogs that are mainly informational in nature are pure content sites. They are long-tail keyword magnets by their very nature. If you look at the analytics of these sites you'll likely find hundreds or even thousands of phrases that bring visitors from the search engines, and that's without even considering SEO. However, you can leverage SEO and gain even more search engine traffic if you can find additional variations of keyword phrases that people interested in your site might use at Google.
Finding Long-Tail Keyword Phrases
The first step in finding long-tail keywords is to use Google's keyword research tool. Let's say that your site is a video game review site. To start with, you could put into the tool some of the character names from video games you review. Then sort them in reverse order of the number of global monthly searches. This way you see only long-tail words. That is, you'll see keyword phrases that have been searched at some point, but not very often. (Be sure to check the box for "Exact Match" and uncheck the one for "Broad Match"  whenever you perform SEO keyword research using Google's tool.)
As an example, using some Nintendo game character names from the Mario Bros. games, I found long-tail phrases such as: "Mario saving Peach," "Peach from Super Mario," "Princess from Mario Bros," "Super Mario World Peach," etc.; all phrases that could easily be worked into Nintendo game reviews that have these characters. 
Long-Tail Content for eCommerce Sites
It's pretty simple to find lots of long-tail keywords for natural content sites like a video game review site, but you may be wondering how an eCommerce site can benefit from long-tail keywords. Say for example you have a site that sells all kinds of file cabinets. Most sites like that have their main category pages, sub-category pages, and individual product pages. Most of the keywords related to them are highly competitive and searched on quite a lot; the very opposite of long-tail keywords. While you certainly want to get traffic to your site by optimizing your key pages for those phrases, if you're a small company it can be difficult to compete with the large brands offering the same or similar products.
The idea, then, is to find some obscure words that you can build additional content around. To do this, you should use Google's keyword research tool and change the default sort setting from sorting by relevance to sort by the least number of Global Monthly Searches along with the least competition.
For instance, in the case of the file cabinets, you could put into the keyword research tool some very specific words relating to some of the cabinets, such as "blue print filing cabinet systems" (again with Exact Match, not Broad). What you'll first see are good potential keywords for your main product pages. But those aren't generally going to be the long-tail ones you're looking for to help figure out what sort of content you may be able to add to your eCommerce site. 
Once you sort it by Global Monthly Searches (in reverse) you, you'll start to see some more obscure words. Still, even in this list, you're not going to see all long-tail keywords. The ones that show high competition are likely not long-tail. If lots of people are bidding on the keywords in AdWords, they're probably competitive organically as well. But if we then sort by competition (from low to high) that's when you can usually find some low-competition keywords that have few overall searches. 
The next step is to carefully scrutinize the keywords to choose those that could fit nicely with creating marketable content that applies to what you offer on your website. For filing cabinets, I found phrases like "system of filing," "organize your files," "draw storage systems," "what is lateral filing," "efficient filing," "how to set up filing system," "proper filing system," "efficient filing system," and a few others.
It's easy to imagine plenty of blog posts that could be written with those phrases in mind. And the beauty of it is that when you run out of interesting things to write about using those original keywords, simply throw some other phrases into the tool and start all over again.
Other Ways to Find Long-Tail Keywords
Using keyword research tools is just one method for finding long-tail keywords, which can provide you with content ideas. Another thing you can do is review your web analytics to find questions that people are already asking to find your website. (Here's a custom Google Analytics Report that does this for you.)  Plus, you can also use my "67 Blog Ideas" post to get additional inspiration on what to write about.
With these methods at your fingertips, you have no more excuses for not creating your own content marketing strategy, regardless of the type of website and business you own! 

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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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