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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.

Have you heard about my all-new industry course, The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course?

100% of my agency’s sales come from the content marketing – and now, I teach YOU how to do what I’ve done to build an authority presence in content marketing, in my course! This course is unlike any out there because I show you how to actually become an expert in content strategy and build a practical, ROI-based online brand content strategy from the ground up. Check it out today.

BONUS: Get a FREE seat to 8 lessons in the course when you join my Facebook group! Join the group at: http://bit.ly/contentstrategyfacebook

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The Content Marketer's Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 2: The #1 Secret to Generating Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 2: The #1 Secret to Generating Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing

[clickToTweet tweet=”Catch the second episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!” quote=”Catch the second episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!”]

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 2: The #1 Secret to Generating Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing

I’ve been running my agency, Express Writers, for about 6 years now.

We have about 40 amazing team members: expert copywriters in various specialties, full and part time general writers, strategists, marketing writers, and staff managers.

But there’s one thing that frustrates me time and time again when new clients approach us — when they tell us that a few blog posts executes their entire content marketing plan.

They may not say those exact words, but here’s how they show it:

“I just want to order 2 or 3 blogs. If they work, I’ll come back in a few months for more.”

“I don’t think I need blogs this month. I’ll skip it due to budget.”

“I’ll just start with one short blog and if it works, I’ll order more longer content.”

“How soon can you guarantee me ROI on these blog posts?”

Here’s what you’re really doing…

If you’re trying to save money, cut the budget, or try before you buy when it comes to content marketing, this is what you’re doing.

You’re throwing your money away.

First of all, the investment in blogging is worth it, but not unless you commit to it.

I’m about to give you the lowdown of how content marketing REALLY works in terms of long-term investment.

The reality?

Sometimes, the results don’t happen until month 12 – 24 of consistent blogging — consistent topics, consistent content creation, a consistent publishing schedule, and consistent promotion.

But when it does return, you could make your money back 10x. Sometimes, even more.

How to Generate Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing

Again, the investment in blogging is worth it, but only if you commit to it.

Here’s why…

It’s like Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid:

You either do it or don’t do it.

Let’s go over some of the statistics that happen when you stay consistent at publishing content to your blog:

  • Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages. (TechClient)
  • The average return of 15 blogs/month is 1,200 new leads per month. (Hubspot’s State of Inbound)
  • Businesses that post 16x or more per month receive 3.5x more traffic than businesses that post <4x a month. (Hubspot’s State of Inbound)
  • 99% of our six-figure annual income at my agency comes in through the content presence I maintain online. (Express Writers)

Now, how exactly can you win through blogging?

How do you get real leads, sales, and return?

The #1 Secret to Consistent ROI from Your Content Marketing

You have to be consistent.

Consistently maintaining your blog builds long-term presence and authority online.

Look at this graph from Hubspot:

Days, weeks, and months pass – and guess what? That blog you published way back will start to accrue more results than the day you published it.

It’s a dominoes effect.

The effort you put into your blog today could triple or quadruple when it hits the top three in Google months down the road,

… Or when an influencer picks up your blog and shares it to hundreds and thousands of readers,

… Or when someone finds it and then offers you a speaking opportunity.

And long-term, all this content will build your authority online. Results happen when you’re consistent at publishing industry-expert, authoritative blogs.

The #2 Biggest Method to Win Real ROI from Your Content

You need to create thorough, long-form, authoritative content.

Be the best answer to the topic or question.

Be valuable, relevant and insightful in order to win results from those that read your content in the rankings.

Let’s explore what thorough, authoritative content looks like.

You don’t have to guess what content works. These studies prove that long-form, authoritative content, consistently, gets ranked better and shared better.

#1: The average length of posts in the top 10 spots of Google is 2,000 words.

While it’s possible for short-form content to rank well, long-form content is the winner when it comes to front-page results. This is from a SerpIQ study that spanned tens of thousands of content pieces.

Hubspot also did a study on word count vs. average organic traffic. This graph shows the average volume of traffic generated from organic search traffic from Google to a post (broken down by the word count of the page).

From the data, it’s clear that the high performing pages in organic search are those with word counts over 2,250 words. The sweet spot is at 2,250-2,500 words.

#2: Long-form content gets people to stay on pages 40% longer.

People exposed to long-form content also viewed 25% more pages than other visitors. How long? Well, this was from a Kissmetrics study done on an 18,000 word post!

#3: Long-form content earns more social shares.

When it comes to social media, long-form content earns more shares and engagement than standard blog posts. Look at this study by Hubspot:

#4: Longer content helps position you as a leader in your industry. It’s tough to bluff your way through 10,000 words, and readers know that. When you create quality, long-form content, you position yourself as a leader in your industry.

Long-Form Content Examples

I’m going to list some long-form examples. Look at the structure, the research, and the style. This is what you should aim for in your comprehensive content.

How successful can you get?

There really is no limit to the success a blog post can bring you, especially over time.

This is reason you have to commit.

You can’t give up too early.

From an ongoing column on one guest blog, I’ve seen a $5,000 sale come in within three days. But this lead was exposed to my content for 12 months before he moved and visited my site and bought later that week.

content life cycle

From an ongoing column on another site, I was approached and offered a $1000 paycheck to lead a summer course. But again, I’d been blogging for 2 years on that site!

These are just a few examples. I’ve already showed how long-form content over time generates real shares and traction.

Consistency and thorough, useful content are the only way you’ll generate real sales and return from your content.

Don’t throw your money away by investing in anything less.

I challenge you the next time you create a blog for business purposes — think about the ROI of that piece.

Think long-term. Think about the overall worth of the content piece.

Put your best effort into being the best answer to the question you’re trying to write about.

Enjoyed Today’s Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy Episode? Come Back for More!

I hope you enjoyed the second episode in my new show.

Come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing tactic you can start using today. Follow along on YouTube: @JuliaMcCoy.

And wait!

Before you dash…

Have you heard about my all-new industry course, The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course?

I’ve poured everything I know into teaching you the SAME content strategy and marketing principles I used to turn $75 dollars into $4 million in sales and build a successful business. 100% of my agency’s sales come from the content marketing I teach in my course!

This course is unlike any out there because I show you how to actually become an expert in content strategy and build a practical, ROI-based online brand content strategy from the ground up.

BONUS: Get a FREE seat to 20 lessons in the course when you join my Facebook group! Join the group at: http://bit.ly/contentstrategyfacebook

julias free facebook group cta