Authority SEO 2013: The Importance of Long Tail Keywords [Phase 1]

You can learn a lot about an authority Internet business by studying the niche site model.

What niche sites do really well is they leverage the power of search engines like Google.  By targeting keyword phrases and building content around them, it’s not hard to get a lot of free traffic.

So while I don’t think you should solely focus on Google, I still think it’s important to make search engine optimization (SEO) one tool in your arsenal of traffic generation strategies.

For phase #1 of building as an authority site, I’m following the niche site model and creating content around a cluster of keyword phrases.

In this post, we’ll talk about the first phase of this plan – with an emphasis on how to take advantage of long-tail keywords. 

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]What are Long-Tail Keywords?[/title]

Simply put, a long-tail search contains three or more words.  Each phrase doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but add them up and you can get a whole lot of traffic.

The mistake that many people make is to place too much emphasis on the primary keyword.  Basically they’re missing out on the flood of traffic that happens from lots of searches on lots of content pages.

With an authority site, the long-tail is a great SEO strategy because you’ll

  • Get more targeted traffic from visitors looking for specific content
  • Have less competition from sites trying to rank for that phrase
  • Focus on content instead of worrying about getting backlinks

Ultimately, long-tail SEO is the way to go because you’re following a “white-hat” strategy that won’t get you into trouble with Google.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]5 Phases for Getting Long-Term Search Traffic[/title]

As you guessed from the introduction, this article will describe “phase 1” of my SEO strategy.  The plan for will work like this:

  • Phase 1 – Write content that targets long-tail keyword phrases
  • Phase 2 – Build “white-hat” backlinks through web 2.o sites, directories, and article directories
  • Phase 3 – Establish relationships with personal development bloggers through blog commenting, social media and sharing their content
  • Phase 4 – Get traffic and solid backlinks through guest posting
  • Phase 5 – Write in-depth, pillar articles that get natural backlinks

These steps aren’t written in stone, but that’s my current plan for how I’ll build search engine traffic for DGH.  The key here is content.  You can’t build an authority website without creating compelling content that attracts and keeps the interest of an audience.

So for phase #1, I’ll focus on five types of blog posts.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]5 Types of Posts to Launch a Blog[/title]

Since content is core part of SEO, it’s important to have a plan for what you’ll write and why you’re posting it.

In my book, How to Write Great Blog Posts that Engage Readers, I talk about 19 blog post ideas.  Specifically I break down content into two distinct categories: Massive Value Posts (MVPs) and Filler Posts (FPs).

While I have a lot of plans for DGH, I’ve decided to focus on five types of articles:

#1: Large Numbered Lists (MVP): Numbered lists can help you get attention in any niche. The best numbered lists are a collection of valuable resources. They can be links to other websites, a compilation of tips, or a large assortment of bite-sized information.

For instance, I launched the site with a post titled: “203 Good Habits – THE List to Live a Better Life.” 

#2: Ultimate Resource (MVP):  Your goal is to create something that provides a ton of value. All you have to do is provide a detailed solution to one major problem that people experience in your niche –and then give it away for free! 

Ultimately, the key to a great ultimate resource is utility. This article should provide a blueprint that readers can immediately implement!

For instance, I’m currently working on a massive (4,500+ words) step-by-step plan that a reader can use to break any bad habit

#3: Serialized Articles: Serialized articles are different from other posts because they’re part of an ongoing series. Instead of covering a topic in a single article, you provide readers with constant updates.

For instance, I have my 30 Day Habit Challenge series where I “test-drive” one new habit a month and report back with the results.

#4: Niche Definitions:  Every niche has a body of concepts and terminology that’s unique to that market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone understands these phrases. Instead, take the time to write articles that define these concepts.

Niche definitions work because they provide a framework for your blog.  Link to this content when you’re discussing a related topic and new readers will get additional information if they’re confused.

For instance, I have a few niche definitions with my articles on: ego depletion, keystone habits, going cold turkey, and the benefits of walking.

Niche definitions are a great way to get long-tail searches.  Just look at the traffic potential for these phrases:

#5: Product Review: Product reviews are a great way to make money while providing value to readers. Simply talk about a premium offer – including both the good and bad – and explain how it helps solve a niche-related problem.  Remember, people want your thoughts and expertise. Tell them why a product helps and they will buy it!

For instance, I wrote a detailed review about on The Power of Habit book by Charles Duhigg, which includes a PDF diagram, a video he created and my affiliate link.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]How Do I Write a Long-Tail Keyword Article?[/title]

The best long-tail article is written for the reader, not the search engines.

For DGH, I first think about the topics that help readers improve their habit development.  That means I’ll only do keyword research after I have an article idea.

Once you have an idea, follow this five-step plan:

Step 1: Do Keyword Research

Most of the time I use the Google Adwords tool for keyword research.  But lately I’ve been testing Long Tail Pro {affiliate link} by Spencer Haws.

Generally speaking, I don’t worry about competition for a phrase.  I prefer to create content around the words that best describe the content of the article.  With that said, it’s important to know the hard data behind each keyword.

When writing an article, I’ll start by looking at the Broad and Exact number of searches.  Usually I won’t have a specific number in mind.  Instead, I try to find something that combines good traffic numbers with a good article idea.

Step 2: Identify LSI Keywords

The best way to get long-tail searches is to cover topics that directly relate to the article idea.  Search engine experts have a fancy name for it – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

LSI can be a very lengthy topic on its own.  Basically all you need to know is it’s important to find phrases that relate to the keyword and weave them into the article.


While writing an article about the “benefits of walking,” I found that the “10,000 steps goal” was an important part of this habit, so I found these keyword results:

As you can see, there are a lot of phrases that relate to the core topic.  By including them within the article, I’ll increase the likelihood that DGH will get more long-tail traffic.

Step 3: Write the Long-Tail Article

You always want to mix up the terminology and phrases used – remember you’re writing for people, not the search engines.   So while putting together an article, I’ll introduce different phrases that people often relate to one another.

Going back to the previous example, in my “benefits of walking” article, I included a number of phrases: 10,000 steps, calories, miles and weight loss.  All of these add up to a large variety of keyword combinations that can bring you a decent amount of traffic over the long-haul.

Step #4: Follow Simple SEO Rules

Search engine optimization is a game where the rules always change.  The best way to win is to follow a few simple rules and avoid the dodgy techniques that will get your site penalized.  Specifically, Google has been rolling out a series of algorithm, targeting sites that “over-optimize” their articles.

That means I stick to a few basic rules for my content:

  • Use the primary keyword once in the title
  • Use the primary keyword in the hyperlink
  • Use the primary keyword once in a sub-title
  • Use LSI keywords for the remainder of the content

I know these rules conflict with what’s currently being taught for SEO, but I’m designing my authority site for the future.  So I’d rather under-optimize, than over-optimize DGH.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]4 Great Websites to Check Out[/title]

I’ll admit it…

Search engine optimization isn’t one of my strengths.  Usually I get most of my information from other websites and projects that detail their strategies.  So if you’re looking to get additional information on this subject, then I recommend you check out these four websites:

#1: Link Building Course (Point Blank SEO)  {affiliate link}

I’m a firm believer in “white-hat backlinking” strategies.  With Google always changing the rules, the only way to get long-term search traffic is to play the rules.  To that end, I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s Link Building Course.

What attracted me to Jon’s product is his emphasis on building natural, quality links over the long-haul.  If you want to make SEO part of your traffic generation strategy, then it’s important to learn how to do it in a way that Google prefers.  That way, your site won’t get penalized whenever they do one of their infamous “dances” or “animal updates.”

#2: Niche Site Project by Spencer Haws

While Spencer emphasizes a “niche site model,” I think you can learn some amazing things by studying his Niche Site Project, which includes articles on keyword research, SEO in 2013, and income-generation.  You can learn lot about building an authority presence by following his case study.

#3: One Hour Authority Site Project by Tom Ewer

Tom’s One Hour Authority Site Project is interesting to watch because he’s primarily focused on getting organic search traffic.  He has a few articles on this topic and specifically shows what he’s doing to get noticed in a competitive market.

#4: Niche Site  Duel 2.0 by Pat Flynn

Of course, any conversation about niche sites has to include Pat Flynn’s Niche Site Duel.  Over the last few years, Pat has written a number of excellent articles on this subject.

Now, he’s taking it to the next level by turning Niche Site Duel 2.0 in an interactive case study where readers can participate along with him.  Check out this series to learn what’s currently working with generating search engine to a brand new site.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Your Thoughts on Phase 1?[/title]

This article barely scratches the surface of search engine optimization.  Since this is “phase #1” of the process, expect to see more updates to this series.

For now, remember this important takeaway:

[quote type=”medium” align=”left”] Write good content that targets long-tail keyword phrases. [/quote] (Tweet This!)

If your articles are full of useful content that includes high-traffic phrases, you’ll build up a collection of assets that can lead long-term results.

Now, it’s your turn.

Do you agree with my “long-tail approach?”  Are you doing something differently?  Have any suggestions to improve my SEO efforts?

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Take Action. Get Results.

31 thoughts on “Authority SEO 2013: The Importance of Long Tail Keywords [Phase 1]”

  1. Steve..

    Yes, long tail keywords are the way to go for quicker traffic.. and then you start getting picked up for the bigger keywords as your site gains authority.

    I got burned so bad by Google a couple of years ago that I don’t go too crazy with SEO, but it is sweet when you get it.

    Also, you may have mentioned but I didn’t see it.. if you’re in Google Keyword Tool, under “Match Types” on left side, uncheck “Broad” and check “Exact.”

    You can see with your secreenshots that that’s what you did but everyone may not catch that. (And if u mentioned it, sorry)

    ~ darlene 🙂

    • Hmmm….I thought I did mention Broad/Exact. I’ll have to go back and check. I do like to search for Broad as well, because it gives me decent idea of the potential volume that can be found through the combinations of long-tail phrases. Overall though, I’m excited at seeing the keyword potential on some of these articles. 🙂

  2. Great content, as always, Steve! I always enjoy these epic posts you write.

    I’m running pretty much the same strategy on my site with real, good long tail friendly posts. It’s amazing how much traffic some posts get even though Google says it doesn’t get a ton of traffic. For example, I wrote a post called “How to Rent Your House.” I think that keyword gets 700ish searches a month – but that post brings us 400-600 PER DAY from long tail. It’s pretty incredible – and a good example of what you are talking about in this post.

    • 400 to 600 a day is phenomenal! So I guess you’re a true believer in the long-tail? Honestly, I’m not going to worry too much about the ranking of my primary phrase. I’d rather write a bunch of content that goes after different phrases and get a large aggregate of traffic. Seems like you’re doing the same thing

  3. Hey Steve, please why do you always do this -> Link Building Course (Point Blank SEO) {affiliate link}, I mean you put a signs saying that a link is an affiliate link?… Do you do these on your other sites that are not about Internet marketing?…

    And also please what is the font name and size used on this site?…

    Thanks Mr Scott.

    • It really depends on the site. Normally, I have a boilerplate description about using affiliate links. But the “Internet marketing niche” is full of scammers, so I do my best to be 100% aboveboard on the affiliate links that I do provide.

      The font and size I use is Tahoma 14.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Lots and lots of long tail anchor text in your links, lots and lots of deep links, and long content goes a long way for me and will for anyone that wants long tail traffic. Screw ranking keywords. Just give me that long tail!

  5. Scott, awesome.

    Have you read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore – The god of breaking new ground for a business.

    I am re-reading it now, and there is some overlap in your article, but with a singular particular focus and that is the Niche side of long tail keywords, he makes a really interesting observation, that everyone knows you should focus on a niche when launching a business. But very few people can do it, as it requires a strong will to turn down sales, while focusing on your niche.

    So I am thinking Long Tail Keywords within a Niche for a market,, defined by locality and market segment.

    Thanks for the great article.

    • Huh…that’s the second time in two days that I’ve heard a reference to that book. I definitely have to check it out. I agree with his idea of focusing in on a single topic. Thanks for the book suggestion – I’ll add it to my list.

  6. yaay, steve 🙂

    i’ve been daunted by my study of seo and keyword research to the point that i stopped writing, thinking i had to get it a certain way, but wasn’t sure exactly what that was…

    i have a sense that this series will help me out, so i’m writing in appreciation and with gratitude.

    i’ve purchased market samurai. i was wondering if you think that it’s a helpful tool for the research, or is google keyword tool a sufficient tool?

    gracias, amigo.

    • I’ll agree. SEO and keyword research can be very daunting. I prefer a simple approach where you put the content first and use it to get natural backlinks.

      I love Market Samurai, it’s an excellent tool. I typically use Google because of the time factor. For me, it’s better to focus on content than obsess over numbers. With that said, you can learn a lot by putting MS through its paces.

  7. Steve for a number of years I was taught to narrow my keywords to one or two words, however in the last year or so I have been experimenting with long-tail keywords and was really surprised to see these particular pages rise to the number one spot on the major search engines in no time at all. And it’s exactly how I would search the web too, so it makes a lot of sense. I was glad to come across your article discussing the subject. It works for me. Many thanks Grahame

    • Great to hear Grahame! I’ve experienced countless times when one page will get a ton of traffic, simply because it emphasized a long-tail phrase. There really is a lot of power by going after these often-missed keywords.

  8. Great post, but Spencer mentioned long tail has nothing to do with how many words the keyword phrase has. Only with search volume/competition

    • Spencer would definitely be right in this instance. I would go with whatever he recommends. Like I said in the post, SEO isn’t my strongest suit. When writing an article I’ll target a keyword phrase, but I don’t worry too much about the competition.

    • Hi Bas

      I want to tell you that I have one long-tail keyword that has six words altogether and that particular page went into the top ten of my over 400 pages within a week. It has remained there for some time before only going down a few places but still in the top twenty. It starts like this…. beginners-guide-to……

      You just need to experiment with your phrases. I am going to change some of my other pages now to have more long-tail keywords. And just so you know that a while back I actually shortened some of my keywords from a three keyword phrase to a single word and they soon disappeared off the radar. I’m going to bring them back to long-tail keywords now.

      Make sure that when you choose a long-tail keyword, that is works naturally as if you yourself would be searching the subject. To your success.

      Grahame from Luxury Thailand Travel

  9. Good to hear someone talking about LSI. It is a great way to uncover some hidden long tail keywords.
    Everyone gets the same results when they search for “horse riding boots” in a keyword tool because it only finds results related to that. But if you Google “horse riding boots” you can find a whole bunch of other related keywords like “equestrian riding boots” “rubber riding boots” “equestrian footwear.” The more you gig, the better your chances of finding gold…And we all love gold!

    • Definitely. Looking at and using LSI is a great way to increase the chances that someone will relate phrases with one another and find your page. You’re right — it is like digging for gold. If you come across a good set a phrases, it can bring some serious traffic.

  10. I was hoping to get a little insight on seopressor. Do you guys use it Or do you think this complete newbie can go without it

    • To be honest, I’ve never heard of seopressor. What does it do? For the most part, I use Google Adwords, with the occasional tool if I really want to dig deep on a keyword.

  11. Another great article, Steve. I have been following Spencer very closely for last month or so and used LTP a lot! It’s definitely a great tool to use for key word research. Please let me know how you applied strategies you mentioned in this article to your authority site. Thank you and please keep up your hard work!



    • Will do Sibo! I’m still in “Phase 1” of this process, so I won’t have a lot of information till I start getting real traffic from Google. From there, I’ll show how I scale things up and show how I’m leveraging this search traffic.

  12. Longtail keywords are more human in search engine unlike a short tails. Long tails seems to be more emphatically than short-taill keyword for instance; am going to the market is an incomplete statement but am going to the market for shopping look more emphatical and more precise than going to the market without full details of what and what the going will cover and thus long tail keywords are mainly for human and not virtually for the search engine.

  13. Hi Steve,

    I’d say that you’ve presented a valuable post on “Long Tail Keywords”. Using long tails KWs is most important and recently I’ve started using Long Tail Pro. It is a great tool to find the long KWs with KW competitiveness.

    You’ve nicely explained about LSI KWs, will make use of them. Thanks for your great contribution.

    • Hey Nirmala — Thanks! I still use LSI keywords, but have moved away from the SEO stuff lately. Really focusing on one or two keywords per article, optimizing it for search, but leaving it up to Google if they like it or not.

  14. Its a every green tip using a long tail keywords , i personally experienced its a good effect on search engine my website is 3 months old but getting decent visitors with those key words.. thanks for the post mate..

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