(This post is part of the A-to-Z Challenge – Today’s post is brought to us by the Letter K!)
You might have started blogging just for fun, but getting lots of traffic and making some money sure would be nice, right?
Good news – it’s totally doable, if you put all the pieces together the right way. Unfortunately, I see too many bloggers dooming themselves to a life of no money and obscurity, all because they don’t know the difference between long tail keywords and short tail keywords.
The idea behind keywords is simple. These are the words that people type into the search box on Google when they’re looking for something. By using commonly searched for phrases in your blog posts, you can identify your blog for the search engines, letting them know what you’re about so that you get ranked for the right topics and draw in the traffic you’re looking for.
If you don’t have the right keywords, you may get no traffic – or you could be getting lots of the wrong traffic that doesn’t click on your ads or purchase your products.
There are two kinds of keywords – short tail and long tail.
Short tail keywords are very general search term – like “cars” or “oak tree”. They’re often used by people who aren’t really sure what kind of information they need, and are trying to narrow it down.
Long tail keywords are more precise – we’re talking about search phrases like “price on a Ford F150” or “how to prune an oak tree”. These are people that have a more exact idea of the information they need. And these are the people you really want to get on your blog!
However, both kinds of keywords are important when it comes to bringing traffic to your blog.
Short tail keywords get thousands of searches a day. Most of them also have millions of results when you run a search for them – in other words, TONS of competition. The likelyhood of your blog showing up on the front page for a short tail keyword is slim – but it does help Google know what your blog is about.
On the other hand, when you do a search for a long tail keyword, you’ll see that there aren’t as many results as there are for the short tails – that’s good, much less competition! However, there are also a LOT less people searching for specific long tail terms. Where a short tail phrase may have hundreds of thousands of searches per month, a good long tail might have just a few hundred.
But that’s ok!
You see, there are WAY more long tail keyword phrases than their are short tail, so in reality you can get much more traffic with the long tail, because they’re easier to rank for. And more importantly, they work to bring in that targeted traffic.
You want to bring people to your blog that already know what they’re looking for. Someone who types in “cars” might be looking for information on the animated movie “Cars” – a guide to pricing new trucks isn’t going to be much help!
On the other hand, if someone is searching for “how to buy a truck without getting ripped off”, you can help them! You can write a post about the basics of truck shopping, and then use the post to sell an in-depth guide on buying a new truck, because now you know what these people are looking for.
If your blog is about dealing with weight loss, then “lose weight” would be a very broad short-tail keyword. But you can get much more specific by using some long tail keywords like “how to lose 15 pounds before summer” or “how to lose your baby fat”. You’re looking for people with specific problems, and providing them with solutions.
Side Bar: If you never learn anything from my blog but this, please take it to heart: The key to your success is connecting with people who have a need or problem and then providing them with the solution. That’s the whole secret to making money with a blog.
When you’re doing keyword research, you’ll find that the broad keywords get thousands – even millions – of searches a month. But the more specific you can be with long tail keywords, the better you’ll rank and the more traffic you’ll get – and the people who find your site will be the ones looking for what you have to offer.