Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on June 15th, 2009

SEO Link Building: Identifying Long-Tailed Key Phrases

When you implement a link building campaign for SEO, you can execute a number of different strategies, with a number of different keywords and phrases. There is even a good possibility that the keywords and phrases most relevant for your company are highly competitive. So competitive that it may be seemingly impossible to show up in the first few pages of any search engine, no matter how good your SEO campaign is. That is why companies choose long-tail key phrases, in order to optimize for a less competitive term. This also allows companies to target a niche market and get more focused exposure. Another reason why long-tailed key phrases are popular is due to their ability to give you more conversions. When people get really specific, they are ready to buy.

Long-tailed key phrases can be just as, if not more, important than your regular keywords. They still need to be relevant to your business, so in no way should you try and use long-tailed phrases that are misleading. Here are ways to identify long-tailed keyword phrases for your business.

1.Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools are now in abundance in both the free and paid versions. Volacci enjoys Google AdWords for this task. It is free, reliable and can be accessed here. You can use the tool to get keyword ideas. You can conduct keyword research based on words, phrases or website content, by entering in your website’s URL or keywords and phrases to give you the local and global search volume and competition. You may find some very popular and competitive keywords that give you ideas for long-tailed versions, as well as common misspellings. Google Suggest, which isn’t specifically a keyword research tool, can also inspire some ideas for long-tails.

2. Rankings Check

Just like your oil, the performance of keywords and phrases can change over time. Check the keyword or phrase in all the SERPs. Take note what content makes up these pages. At the bottom of Google’s SERP, there is a section called “Searches related to:” that gives you more specific keywords and phrases to use to get more specific. I typed in “vintage shirt” and Google’s ideas were “vintage 80’s rock shirts” and “vintage movie t shirts”. These can give you great long-tail ideas, but be careful not to let your long-tailed ideas get out of control.

3. Brainstorming

You may have been racking your brain on keywords to the point of giddiness and exhausted all of your creativity. Never underestimate the power of a brainstorm. Everyone brings a different perspective to the table, so coming up with keyword variations should be fun team-building experience. Even if it is only a two- or three-person team, you can build a substantial list of possibilities that will make any client meeting more meaty. Keep an ongoing list in Excel or Numbers accompanied by a list of adverbs or adjectives that could come into play. Almost every SEO firm has, or had, a client that refused to listen to research and have all their marbles on a phrase they “know” will work. That may be why they are a former client and don’t have an optimized online business.

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