long tail keywords

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 3: How to Use Long-Tail Keywords Naturally In Your Content for SEO Success

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The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 3: How to Use Long-Tail Keywords Naturally In Your Content for SEO Success

Keywords = key phrases, focus keywords and secondary keywords, broad keywords, long-tail keywords…

These can often pose quite a challenge to writers.

It’s not the keywords themselves. Those tend to be pretty straightforward.

It’s the often odd combinations of words in ways that are anything but grammatically correct.

Add to that a general lack of punctuation, throw in the name of a city and state, and you have what seems like a recipe for the most awkward sentences ever written!

So, how do we creatively insert a keyword in our content for best results?

Let’s explore.

The competition comparison in long-tail keywords vs. broad keywords

I’ve been able to rank content just on my site, expresswriters.com, for over 11,000 phrases.

Do you know what the majority of those keyword phrases are?

Long-tail phrases.

So when you’re looking for keywords to optimize your content with, you can either look up broad or long tail keywords.

Broad Keywords

1-2 words long

Also known as: “short tail”, “head terms”

Long Tail Keywords

3-5 words

Long tail keywords are primarily better because of two factors:

  • Lower competition: Easier to rank for. Great opportunities for new, emerging or growing sites.
  • Higher buying intent (ROI): Searchers are usually looking a specific answer to their question and are much more likely to be in the buying stage. Example: “where to buy basketball shoes online” vs. “shoes” – the searcher knows exactly what he wants by searching the long tail keyword, and he/she is much more ready to buy!

Broad keywords are tempting because of the amount of traffic searching for them.

But remember, you need the right traffic, not a ton of traffic, when it comes to looking at the value of keywords that will bring in real results.

Which type of customer would sell today if they walked in your dress shop?

  • Someone who wants a “dress”
  • Someone who wants a black dress, size M, for an evening party next week

One of my favorite tools to research keywords with is SEMrush and Mangools KWFinder.

In KWfinder, here’s what it looks like to find a low competition long-tail keyword.

kwfinder blogging statistics

For example, we looked up a keyword, blogging statistics. We wrote a blog around this as a keyword since it had a “possible rating at 50/100” – that’s since gone up to 52 – and we were able to get our blog in the top 4 results for that keyword. The left side of KWFinder is where you’ll find your gold mines – long tail keyword opportunities that you can write content pieces around.

I recommend going long-form and writing one piece of content around one keyword for best results. Don’t dilute and cram too many keywords in one piece.

Natural Language in SEO

The days of keyword-stuffing your way to the first page of Google are looooong gone, but today with how smart Google is, there’s no reason you can’t do this:

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When it comes to writing with SEO in mind, this means using natural language – and natural variations of the words that appear in the focus and secondary keywords – instead of inserting the same exact keywords and key phrases into your text over and over again.

Let’s talk about… focus keywords + natural usage

We always ask our clients for one focus keyword per piece.

But when it comes to penning the actual copy, if the exact keyword phrase doesn’t flow well, we fall back on just writing naturally.

Here’s an example.

For instance, this client-supplied keyword phrase:

“best ux designer Austin”

Clearly won’t work in either the title tag, meta description, or in the content (page, article, blog post, etc.). It may be an important, valuable keyword phrase for the client, but it’s a bit too clunky to use as is.

Even if you think you can squeeze that kind of phrase into a sentence – such as “When it comes to finding the best UX designer, Austin has a lot of choices to offer.” Sure, once in a while you’ll be able to get away with that. But far too often, the inclination seems to be to get hung up on that exact keyword phrase.

In a title tag or headline, the best approach would be to use the keyword naturally, like so:

“How to Find the Best Web and UX Designer in Austin”

You would then use variations on this keyword phrase throughout your content.

Bottom line:

Don’t try to force the keyword into the copy, and don’t then use the exact same keyword or key phrase over and over. Use synonymous keywords.

Location-based keywords 

Let’s talk briefly about location-based keywords.

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, along comes a location-based keyword:

“eyedoctor in Burlington Vermont”

Remember:

To Google, there is absolutely no difference between:

“eyedoctor in Burlington VT” and “eye doctor in Burlington, VT”

Since we’re humans writing for humans – we should always defer to using proper punctuation, grammar, and style, even in SEO writing.

So, use the space between eye and doctor.

When you take into account that these keyword lists being supplied to (or, in some cases, created by) us are almost always generated by such tools as Google’s keyword tool and other tools – not actual humans – it’s not surprising the keywords provided to us don’t include punctuation, proper grammar, etc.: because they were generated by algorithms/tools.

It’s absolutely essential for websites to use location keywords in the page titles and Meta description tags of their pages.  When it comes to using those same location keywords in the content itself – in the copy, in headings, and in image Alt tags – remember to avoid overuse.

Ways to get creative with location-based keywords 

Let’s say your keyword is “gluten free pasta Phoenix.”

You don’t have to jam that keyword all over your web page, article, blog post, etc. – including in the meta data for those pages.

You can break it up any number of ways: pasta, Phoenix, gluten free, gluten, gluten free pasta, gluten free in Phoenix, pasta in Phoenix. That’s a lot of variation out of one phrase!

It is, however, still important to use your focus keyword or phrase in the first and last paragraphs, at least one <H2> heading, and the title of the article, if at all possible.

But as we’ve already discussed, make sure you’re using those keywords naturally.

Ultimately, it’s about balance: be creative, use real sentences and headings, speak naturally, and don’t overdo it.

How to tell if you’re overdoing it with a keyword

It may sound silly, but it really works: simply read your content out loud and pay attention to how it feels reading the content, and listen for any awkwardness, clunky-sounding sentences or phrases, general weirdness.

You should be able to hear where your writing doesn’t feel natural – it won’t easily roll off the tip of your tongue.

You’ll also hear where you use a specific word too many times.

And a nice side benefit to reading it aloud – even if you’re doing it silently – is you’ll almost always find places that could benefit from a bit of finesse and polish.

Did You Enjoy Today’s Episode of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy? Come Back for More!

I hope you enjoyed the third episode in my YouTube show!

Please leave a comment on the video and tell me how I’m doing, and the next topics you’d like to see. Leave a comment on today’s episode.

Come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing hack you can start using today.

Subscribe on YouTube: @JuliaMcCoy.

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