In the last few years, we have seen several major algorithm updates that impacted the organic rankings for many websites. Some of those impacts were quite negative where many websites that had enjoyed high page 1 rankings in the search results were suddenly nowhere to be found in the first few pages of results if at all. While this isn't news, the updates are continuous and just solely focusing on recovering or retaining rankings for your high volume top tier keywords will lead to missed opportunities if you ignore the benefits that come with ranking for longer tail terms.
Sales Cycle & User Intent
One of the biggest factors leading to website conversions is where a visitor happens to be in their purchasing cycle when landing on a website. For example, if you own a running shoe store, ranking well for a high volume keyword like "running shoes" may not necessarily bring in a qualified web visit every time. While it obviously would be worthwhile to rank for that term, that type of keyword can also lend to users researching various options and taking time before making a purchasing decision. However, if you have specific product pages that are optimized and rank for longer tail terms that reflect a user looking for a specific item such as "men's X-Brand running shoes" or "X-Brand size 12 running shoes Toronto", then you are likely attracting a visit from someone with a specific product or intent in mind that is much closer to making a purchase.
Working together with the visitor's intent, we could also see a better conversion rate with these more specific longer tail keywords. While the volume they send won't be as big as a more general search query, having users that much closer to a purchase can improve the leads and sales generated by your website. So take the time to ensure as many pages on your site are optimized for all types of products, services and search queries, not just what you may consider a few high importance ones.
Easier & Quicker Rankings
Optimizing for and putting an equal emphasis on longer tail keywords can often lead to easier and quicker ranking results than solely focusing on ranking for higher volume and more popular terms. This will at least help your site start to appear in the search results and provide traffic from visitors looking specifically for what you offer.
HOW? In order to rank for longer tail keywords, it may be necessary to implement some changes to your site. SEO basics and best practices should start with optimizing the title tags, meta-descriptions and H1 tags so they contain appropriate keywords and are all related to the topics of the page. Also make sure there is unique and relevant content on these pages describing your products and services which contain natural mentions of your long tail terms. Lastly, make sure you use your social media profiles in tandem with any blogging on the site to help promote new content.
It's easy to get caught up with ranking for highly competitive and high volume keywords. However, taking the steps to make sure your site also incorporates planning and optimization for high converting long tail terms can have an important impact on your web business as well.
* Leader image adapted from TeryKats