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5 steps to an effective keyword strategy: step 3 - Long tail modifiers and searcher intention

So armed with our core term we begin the hunt for long tail keywords.

We are looking for modifiers, additional words or phrases that turn our vague, competitive core words into focused, niche long tailed keywords. These are the keywords that we can rank well for: the terms that will help to drive motivated traffic to our site.

It's a slightly daunting prospect.

Written by
Guy Redmill
Published on
15 Sep 2010

There are probably a massive number of associated terms we could choose to qualify our core terms. Fortunately there is a method to the madness, and we can take a lot of the pain away if we stick to a defined structure and pay attention to a golden rule.

Searching for long tailed keywords - the structure

Before we begin, we accept no credit whatsoever for this framework (however much we like to pretend we know it all)...

There are lots of things you pick up, things you adapt, get told, read on the net and a lot things you learn from experience. This isn't one of them. This is, quite literally, text book stuff.

It's a set of basic groupings that we learnt from Dave Chaffey (et al), the digital marketing guru in his encyclopedic "Internet Marketing - Strategy, Implementation and Practice" a couple of years back.

It's so basic it's almost obvious but it's a tried and tested way of ensuring that you miss no opportunity to create the perfect long tail keyword.

    • Geography: Even today, people are more likely to work with and search the Internet for a local company so it's a sensible place to start. Keywords that tell people where you are should be the first box to tick
      • Widget manufacturer in Yorkshire
      • Yorkshire widget company
      • Leeds widgets
    • Comparison: An entire business model has been built around this but while this makes it a bun fight in the insurance market, there may be a little unexplored niche available in yours...
      • Compare widgets
      • Widget prices
      • Widget performance
    • Intended use: People will commonly use modifiers that indicate the use of the product or service they want. Think about things like
      • Widget for quality monitoring
      • Small Office Widget
      • High mileage widget
    • Adjective: What does your product do better than the rest? How would you describe it? More to the point - how would your target search audience describe it?
      • Cheap widget
      • Brown widget
      • Fast widget
    • Product type: So what is it? What does it do? Basic stuff but it needs to be included.
      • VoIP Widget
      • Widget for Women
      • Holiday widget
    • Action request: Searchers very often signal their intention in their search terms (see below) so this is an important category to use, think about
      • Buy widget
      • Information on Widget
      • Widget delivery
    • Vendor/ Brand: This is often overlooked but it's key to your success. It might represent an infinitesimally small number of searchers but these people are ready for you. They know your name and they're looking for you. If you are a vendor, it's probably not such a big deal, you ought torank well for your own name, if you are a distributor or a reseller make 100% certain that you nail these brand names into your keywords.
      • Company x Widgets
      • Widgets from Company x

Now it may well be that your perfect long tail keyword includes a number of the above modifiers, for example: "buy cheap VoIP widgets from company x in London".

It's trial and error, monitoring conversions, testing and tinkering and it's not so easy to deliver a page of meaningful copy that delivers your target keywords in the way you need them.

That's where we can help - contact us to learn more about our SEO copywriting services.

The golden rule - information vs transaction search

Let's not forget though, that attracting visitors is not an end in itself; what we really want are the right kind of visitors - those who have finished looking for information and are ready to act on it.

How does this affect our choice of keywords? Well quite simply, we need to focus our attention on those keywords that suggest a commercial intention, a transactional rather than an informational search.

How do we know?

Well, common sense goes a long way. All other factors (such as search volume and competition) being equal, it's easy to see that we'd getter better results optimising for "VoIP PBX suppliers" or "semiconductor distributors" than we would for "VoIP PBX performance" or "semiconductor configuration." The first two examples indicate a degree of buying intent while the second two appear purely informational.

Space on the page is limited - if in doubt focus on the terms that deliver buyers, not searchers.

Contact us to learn more.

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