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Targeting search intent with long-tail keywords

The third article in our search PPC series.

ompetition for keywords in today’s robust paid search environment is more intense than ever. As a result, clicks for “short-tail” keywords (aka “head words”) that drive high search volume have become exorbitantly expensive — putting these in-demand keywords out of reach for companies with small and modest budgets.

The more feasible solution is to target long-tail keywords that are less general, more descriptive and less costly to bid on. Upon first blush, concentrating on these more definitive search terms seems like it would diminish your opportunity to attract the most promising prospects. In actuality, long-tail keywords are strategic way to cost effectively get your message in front of the right prospects — at a time when they’re ready to convert.

Providing added impetus at the bottom of the sales funnel.

While long-tail keyword phrases can be used at any stage in the sales cycle, they are generally most valuable at the bottom of the funnel. This is a stage where prospects have most likely explored various options, picked up key knowledge about your offering/benefits, and are getting close to making a final purchase decision.

Here are a few key reasons to incorporate a long-tail keywords strategy in your next PPC paid search campaign.

Heightened relevance for your best prospects.

The more you can define your audiences and fine-tune your messaging to suit them, the higher your conversion rates will be. This is especially true with PPC paid search. While the short-tail keyword phrase “walking shoes” will certainly attract high search volume, the more defined phrase “lightweight men’s walking shoes for seniors” begins to drill down to the search intent of a more targeted set of potential buyers.

The ability to pinpoint subgroups in your audience. Is the product/service you’re promoting more geared to high-end shoppers, middle-of-the-road buyers or bargain hunters? Would it be advantageous to key in on prospects in major cities, suburban communities or rural areas? Incorporating key adjectives or feature-based words can help hone in on the people who can best use your product/service. Chances are, they’ve been looking for an offering like yours for some time.

Increased compatibility for voice search. 

In the early and transitional days of search, people often fussed over search terms as they typed them — in an effort to craft just the right search term for the purpose at hand. Today, the proliferation of voice search has dramatically changed the way people approach search phrases. People have a greater tendency to speak in long-tail keywords/phrases, and even complete sentences, as they relate “off the top of the head” search terms into their devices.

Blog Post: How voice is transforming search and SEO

Accordingly, Google and other platforms have greatly enhanced the depth and breadth of their search algorithms to maximize their ability to assimilate, dissect and process natural language. These improved algorithm capabilities are equally valuable in processing long-tail keywords/phrases that are text-based.

PPC search strategies that use long-tail keywords are invaluable tools for targeting well-defined audiences based on actual search intent — providing the ability to attract prospects who are deep into their decision journeys — with lower-cost clicks than head keywords that are expected to drive high search volume. This explains why more and more marketers, of all sizes, are incorporating long-tail keyword campaigns into their overall paid search program.

Other articles in this series

Neptune Web is a full-service Boston-area interactive web and digital marketing agency with expertise in Website Design, Web Development, Digital Marketing Strategy and Execution.

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