Search engine optimization comes in a few different stages—you first want to gain visibility and optimize your domain for certain keywords using various link building and home-page promotion, but then it comes time to focus on long tail keywords. More and more companies are getting stuck at that first stage and not moving on to more targeted keyword research, and this can hurt an overall SEO strategy. While link building might work for a while, moving on to that next step is crucial to long-term success.

Focusing on long tail keywords is where most companies see their largest return on investment. Some also refer to this strategy as “low hanging fruit” keywords, or keywords that rank in positions five thru fifteen. No matter what you call them, it’s important to understand why this is an important step 2 in your SEO strategy.

Why Long Tail Keywords are Worth Your While

You may have heard the term long tail keywords and assumed they were nothing more than keywords that are more than one word, but there are actually quite a few things to know about this step in your SEO process. Keywords that rank between positions five thru fifteen will often be long-tail keywords, and these are great to target for a few reasons:

  • They’re easy to rank because there isn’t much competition. People often go for the keywords with a large search volume, which causes more competition.
  • There are more of them. You have a bigger selection of these types of keywords because there is less competition, and therefore it won’t take as long to accomplish your goal of ranking for different terms.
  • This technique offers the highest return on investment. It’s important to remember that not everyone wants to read the first five results, so they keep browsing. This is where you want to be.

Essentially, you want to go for the keywords ranked in positions five thru fifteen so that you can push them just a little bit in order to earn a first page ranking. You will get more visibility this way than if you are ranking number one for one term alone.

How to Get Started with a Long Tail Keyword Strategy

Figuring out which keywords to target can seem overwhelming, but once you get started you’ll realize that the answer is usually quite clear. Below are a few different steps you can take to get started finding your long tail, long-hanging keywords:

  1. Ranking Reports – You will want to run a keyword ranking report in order to determine which keywords rank between positions 5 and 15. These will most like be your “low hanging fruit,” and you’ll find that they will likely be long-tail. You can run a ranking report using tools such as SEOMoz or Rank Tracker (or hire an agency to help you). You’ll then want to take these keywords and put them into a spreadsheet to stay organized.
  2. Search Volume – Once you have a list of your keywords, you’ll want to determine the search volume of each term. You can do this through the Google Keyword Tool and search the volume for 100 keywords at a time. You should take this data for these keywords and place it into your spreadsheet as well.
  3. Determine Targets. You will then want to determine where you should focus your efforts by determining which keywords are in that five to fifteen range. You’ll want to choose keywords that fall into this position, convert well, and have a high amount of traffic. In general, most companies focus on about ten keywords at one time.
  4. Begin Link Building. Once you have the long-tail keywords set to go, it’s time to go back to your old link-building trips. This includes guest blogging and even social media promotion.
  5. Repeat the Process. This is a strategy that can be continually reused. Once you’ve moved up some of your keywords, you simply run your report again and start with a new batch of low-hanging words.

To reiterate, it’s important that you continue your link building efforts and try to improve your visibility and credibility for your domain. However, while focusing your efforts on long-tail keywords is something that comes next, it is not too far in the future.