Long-tail keywords are great for PPC advertising.

Long-tails are often cheaper than more generic keywords, tend to have less competition, and are often made by people further along in the buying cycle who have already carried out the large majority of their pre-purchase research are more likely to buy.

Conversion rates and return on investment from long-tail keywords can therefore be considerably higher for than for more generic keywords, and en masse, long-tail keywords can generate a huge number of cost-effective sales or leads that would be hard to achieve by chasing after a handful of more competitive generic phrases.

This is especially the case for retail and product keywords, where the range of different searches used to describe a product can be enormous.

But while the benefits of long-tail keywords are no mystery to PPC advertisers, simply researching thousands of keywords will do little to win over prospective buyers and deliver a solid return on investment from PPC marketing.

The more crucial step is to provide tailored ad messages and landing pages that cater for the wide range of specific needs and requirements identified by your keywords.

For Truly Effective Long-tail Keyword Targeting, We Need To Think Niche

Imagine you are a fashion retailer selling women's dresses. You retail hundreds of different styles, many different colours, and lots of different sizes and fabrics.

Now imagine all the possible 'mini niches' that might exist for your products. Possible niches might be:

  • green cocktail dresses under $75
  • size 10 floral maxi dresses
  • blue bridesmaid dresses less than $100
  • black evening dresses xl
  • size 14 red cocktail dresses under $50

After some quick research using Google's Keyword Tool, you will realize that people are searching for a huge range of highly specific phrases in considerable volume, often including parameters such as size, fabric, style, purpose, and price in their search terms.

However, when typing these searches into Google, you will also realize that the large majority of PPC ads that appear are poorly targeted to the search words, and fail to take visitors to highly relevant and helpful landing pages.

Search Google for 'size 14 red cocktail dresses under $50', for example, and you will be lucky to find an ad which suitably responds to your request for 'size 14', 'cocktail dresses', which are 'red', and are 'under $50'.

Let's take a step back for a moment and think about this from a consumer's point of view. The prospective customer has opened up Google and has searched for 'size 14 red cocktail dresses under $50'. What do you think they are looking for? Size 10 green wedding dresses? Not likely. It is more likely the searcher is looking for 'size 14 red cocktail dresses under $50', as per their search phrase.

There are no doubt hundreds of fashion retailers that stock a wide range of 'size 14 red cocktail dresses under $50', so why are they not making themselves known on Google? Why are fashion retailers (or retailers in general) not taking advantage of the thousands of people who know exactly what they want to buy, but just can't seem to find it?

Search for anything remotely specific in Google, and you will realize that the large majority of PPC ads that currently appear are poorly targeted and poorly tailored to the specific needs and requirements outlined in the search phrase. A big missed opportunity if you ask me.

So if you are a fashion retailer, or any retailer for that matter, what can you do to improve your PPC marketing?

4 Steps To Long-tail Ecommerce PPC

ONE: recognize that people are searching for your products or services in a huge number of different ways. People are expecting more from Google, and are typing highly specific 'signals' into their searches, which identify their needs and requirements. Realizing that searching habits have changed is the first step.

TWO: figure out if and how your range of products can satisfy these searches. Research the types of words people use in their searches (such as size, fabric, price etc) to help them find the products they are looking for.

THREE: consider how your products are tagged, or categorized, throughout your website. Can you filter your products by parameters such as 'size 14' and 'green', to show only size 14 green dresses? If not, you might want to consider how this can be implemented. This is to enable you to take visitors to more relevant landing pages such as, which filters products depending on the visitor's search requirements.

FOUR: once you have a solid understanding of how your products can be categorized and filtered, and have a good idea of the types of phrases people are searching for, start to create your keywords and ads.

When someone searches for 'xl evening dresses under $100', for example, your ad should mention 'XL', 'evening dresses', and 'under $100', and take visitors to a page which shows only XL evening dresses under $100.

When someone searches for 'red floral maxi dresses', your ad should make mention of 'red', floral', and 'maxi dresses', and take visitors to a page which promotes your red floral maxi dresses.

And when someone searches Google for 'long blue bridesmaid dresses size 10', your ad should make mention of their requirements for long blue size 10 bridesmaid dresses, and take the visitor to a page showing only size 10 blue bridesmaid dresses.

If you can implement such a targeted and tailored PPC strategy, there is little more a potential customer could ask for. You have identified the searcher's needs through long-tail keyword targeting. You have shown you understand the searcher's needs through tailored ad messaging. And you have helped the searcher fulfill their needs by taking them to a helpful and highly relevant landing page.

If you are an ecommerce retailer frustrated at your current return on investment from PPC marketing, perhaps its time to try a different strategy.

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