SEO is all about keywords. In this article we’ll discuss the medium-tail keywords.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to research every topic and get just the right keyword which will be highlighted in the article. In fact, there is not much point in writing in the first place unless you prepare beforehand.
According to the latest data from 2014, the first page in Google attracts on average 68% of all the organic clicks. Websites that are on age two or lower can be regarded as losers. So, unless you have an enormous social following or a very competent SMO team, it will be very hard to promote your content.
Let’s look at the following graph to get the picture better:
Screenshots taken from Moz.com
Already convinced that all you need is Google page one rankings? Good.
Let’s start with keyword research and why it’s absolutely mandatory.
Why is keyword research so important?
There are two main factors that need to be considered before you start producing content. The first one is keyword search volume and the other one is keyword difficulty.
Keyword volume shows you how many people type in that particular phrase during a month. Have in mind that this number represents only the potential traffic. In other words, even if you rank first for a keyword, there is no guarantee that you will receive 100 % of that traffic.
Also, that traffic goes down exponentially as you fall in results. So, if you are on position 9 or 10 in Google, you will likely get less than 1 %. This sucks, right? Well, this is precisely why the top spots are so valuable.
Keyword difficulty is the other important aspect of a keyword. It shows us how hard it is to rank this keyword among the top 10 results. Usually, products and services that are highly profitable will be very hard to rank for. On the other hand, obscure phrases will be much easier.
In practice, there is no point in pursuing keywords that are very difficult to rank for. On the other hand, there is also no reason to focus on keywords that bring no traffic.
So, we try to find the perfect middle or the so called medium-tail keywords.
What are medium-tail keywords and how to find them?
Back in the day SEO experts and webmasters mostly focused on two types of keywords: short-tails and long-tails. Short-tail keywords are very short, consisting of one or two words (example: SEO, digital marketing). They are highly competitive and really difficult to rank.
Long-tail keywords are just the opposite – they bring low traffic and but also have a quite low difficulty which makes them easy targets (example: cheap white hat SEO services, digital marketing for big companies).
Given that both of type of keywords had an inherent flaw professionals started using medium-tail keywords. These phrases have a descent traffic which is obtainable with a reasonable amount of work. They usually consist of 3 to 4 words (example: white hat seo, white label SEO services).
Such phrases are the perfect middle between invested time and expected traffic. Similarly, keyword difficulty for such SEO terms should be medium.
Ideally, you should target keywords with medium traffic with low difficulty or medium difficulty with high traffic.
Finally, it is necessary to mention that medium-tail keywords will only help you if they are relevant. What does this mean?
If you manage to rank for a keyword, you will get traffic no matter what. But, you also have to consider value of that traffic. In other words, not every medium-tail keyword will be beneficial. You have to find just the right terms that will sell your products and services.
Remember, any traffic is generally good (except for the fake one, of course) but not every type of traffic is profitable. You have to consider this whenever you perform keyword research.
Using tools to find medium tails
Similarly to everything else in SEO, you require various tools to analyze keywords.
Here is the list of my favorite tools for keyword research:
Google Keyword Planner (FREE)
This is one of the best tools at your disposal. Google Keyword Planner is crucial for any website and it is especially important for keyword research. It’s totally free to use and I suggest you always consider it when searching for the best keywords and phrases for your website.
Basically, you start by typing a keyword and the tool returns a list with suggestions. Next, you will be taken to a table which shows the following data:
- Average monthly searches
- Adwords competition
- Average bid (for PPC)
It’s impossible to say what is the perfect traffic range for a medium-tail keyword. It varies a lot depending on your industry, but I usually try to find medium tails with search volume between 1000 and 5000 searches.
If you notice some with a particularly high traffic and low difficulty, you should start using them immediately.
Finally, you’ve probably heard that in August 2016 Google made some changes in the Keyword Planner and now it’s not showing all the data if you’re advertisers with lower monthly spend in AdWords.
Ahrefs is known in SEO world as the company that has one of the best backlink software on the market. This tool is much more complex than Google Keyword Planner and its strength lies in competitor’s analysis.
Ahrefs provides you with detailed reports including things such as top 10 competitors comparison, number of organic clicks for page one and organic to paid clicks distribution in percentage. Invaluable!
As you can see, you have all the relevant data here. Unlike Keyword Planner, Ahrefs breakdowns competitors for you. You can instantly decide whether this is the right keyword for you or not.
Sometimes, there will be too many top tier websites competing for a keyword leaving little to no room for your own. On the other hand, if you notice some mediocre websites in the first 5 spots you should definitely consider trying to penetrate the top 10 results.
It is hard to create any list with SEO tools without mentioning SEMRush.
Similarly to Ahrefs, this tool is primarily focused on spying your competition. You can use it to check the top competitors for a particular keyword, what they are ranking for and where their biggest traffic comes from.
SEMRush is also a good choice when it comes to analyzing paid competition in Google, cost-per-click rates and AdWords budgets.
If you want to check if some keywords have high commercial intent, you should use the tool to check their average CPCs and if it’s high enough this means a lot of competitors are bidding for them because they convert well.
Keyword research is not as simple as it may seem on the first glance.
Generally speaking, finding one profitable keyword will not make or break your website. Instead, you constantly have to find good opportunities. In time, this will have an enormous effect on your website as you start focusing on phrases that attract much more visits.
Remember, it is all about cumulative effect.
If you are an upstart website, I recommend starting with Google Keyword Planner. It is a solid and reliable tool and won’t reach in your pocket. However, if you wish to get an additional layer of information, you will have to invest in some additional tools that will augment the process.
What is the most difficult thing for you during keyword research? Do you have any issues finding juicy medium-tail keywords? Tell me in the comments below!