One of the first things you’ll need to understand about SEO is how to research the right keywords. Keyword research is the process of identifying and analysing which keywords will be beneficial for your business to target. By targeting the right keywords you can increase the amount of targeted traffic to your website so it’s important to understand how to carry out keyword research and spend time on this stage. As I have said, getting this right can help increase profits by driving more targeted traffic to your site but getting this wrong can waste your time by driving the wrong kind of traffic to your site or by choosing terms that are too hard to rank for. Visitor numbers are meaningless unless they convert in some meaningful way and no-one is going to find you if your buried under by the competition in the SERPS. The first thing you need to understand are the two different keyword types.
Long Tail VS Head Terms
Keywords can be split down into two distinct groups, these are head terms and long tail.
Head terms are the most popular keywords that will drive the most traffic, these are also almost always the most competitive keywords. They tend to be quite broad in meaning and are usually between one to three words long.
Head term examples would be:
- Cheap Car Insurance
- Motorbike Insurance
Google any of these and you’ll see the brand names and powerhouse websites dominating the search results. I’ve chosen one of the most competitive keyword head terms to illustrate the point, the level of competition will vary depending on your specific sector.
These head terms may be popular and promise to drive the most traffic but they don’t convert so well. They get 80% of the clicks but only 20% of the total conversions!
The other 20% of traffic is made up of the long tail. Long tail keywords are the less popular yet more specific keywords and phrases that people are searching for. Though these tend to drive less traffic the traffic they do generate tends to be more highly targeted, because of this they account for 80% of the conversions! Also the long tail is less competitive than the head terms and so easier to rank well for.
Long tail examples would be:
- Alvis TA21 Insurance
- Honda VFR 800Fi Insurance
- 1981 Ford Capri Insurance
You can see that these terms are far more specific. They won’t be as popular as a broad head term search but we can really target our landing pages to match the needs of the people who are searching for these terms. We can reasonably assume an awful lot more about someone who is searching for “1981 Ford Capri” insurance than we can about someone who is searching for the generic term “Insurance”. We can use these assumptions to tailor our landing pages and increase the chance of a conversion.
The choice of whether to target head terms or long tail really comes down to the following three factors:
- Level of Competition
- Level of Traffic
- Relevance to your Business Goals/Relevance to target audience
By looking at these factors you can then make an informed choice about the types of keywords you want to target, how difficult it will be to compete for these keywords and and whether these will be of value to your business. Remember that the long tail is far more specific and so more likely to convert but you will need to target a greater number of long tail keywords to bring in the same level of traffic as a head term so this will mean making landing pages and content for each long tail keyword you target.
Now that you understand the different types of keywords you are ready to learn how to do your keyword research.