How to Improve your Search Ranking with Long Tail Keywords

Ranking well for long tail keyword phrases elevates your ranking for short term keywords too…

You already know proper keyword selection across your site’s content is possibly THE most critical factor to get you ranked well, right? After all, you can optimize a page to within an inch of its life, but if no-one is looking for the keywords you’re optimizing for, then you’ve wasted precious time and money.

A successful and workable keyword strategy for your entire website needs to include a mix of short and long tail keywords, with more emphasis on the long tail keywords.


Longtail keyword phrases won’t drive large volumes of traffic to those pages, but they will bring highly targeted visitors who are more likely to convert. The other big plus is that you are not likely to encounter much competition, so it’s relatively easy to rank well for those phrases.

How Google Ranks Your Page

In the above video link (which is worth the 3:15 minutes if you’ve never seen it), Matt Cutts, the friendly public face behind Google, describes how Google search works without the necessity for a Masters degree in Advanced Rocket Science. But let me give you an example of what Matt didn’t say:

Let’s use those trusty old “blue widgets” as our product and assume you have a page optimized for “fluffy blue widgets with pink polka dots”. It’s a no-brainer that this page is NOT going to get anywhere near as much traffic as simple old “blue widgets”, but it will get more for “fluffy blue widgets” and it will get even more for “fluffy blue widgets with dots”.

This is because when Google searches its indexes for “fluffy blue widgets with pink polka dots”, it looks for pages that have as many of the keywords as possible in the indexable areas of the page. If it can’t find exactly what the searcher is looking for, it will try to come up with the closest matches.

Google will also use semantic indexing (or searching for phrases with similar meaning/intent) to display in its search results.

Armed with this information, you can plan your long tail keyword pages to rank well for short tail keywords as well.

Long Tail Keywords Page Ranking Strategy

Long tail keywords are part of an effective SEO strategy

Long tail keywords are part of an effective SEO strategy

Google’s search algorithms are far more complex than Matt Cutts would have you believe. The spiders search and index the frequency and placement of single and consecutive keywords on every page and relate those words to links and other nearby pages, thereby creating a profile of your chosen topic and ranking your site accordingly.

So let’s look at some of the strategies to get ranked well for the short and long tail keywords:

  • While it’s important to optimize your major long tail keyword phrase in the <H1> title, the <meta> title, the URL suffix, ie.,” fluffy_blue_widgets_pink_polka_dots.html”, in the anchor text of a hyperlink and scattered once or twice throughout the text, you can use all sorts of variations, including the shorter, more competitive keywords to gain more traction.
  • And don’t forget to use your long tail keyword phrases in the anchor text of inbound links. Google will not only note and index the long tail keyword link, it will pick up on the shorter keywords as well.
  • Include hyperlinks for the major shorter keywords you want to rank for by including, say, an “Other Topics You may Like” box with links to other articles, or a link back to the Home Page with the major keywords in the anchor text.
  • Drop one or two of your long tail keywords into other pages on your site.

Keep a watchful eye on your analytics to see what your visitors are actually searching for and take advantage of any new keyword phrases you find. At the same time, look for the exact terminology they are using to find you and tweak your phrases if necessary.

And finally, don’t forget that trends can change quickly and customers are fickle.  Don’t be surprised if you suddenly find fluffy blue widgets with pink polka dots are no longer the flavor of the month and fluffy blue widgets with red stripes are the next big thing.

Stay on trend and you’ll stay on target.

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