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The Continual Argument – Monster Keywords V.S. Long Tail Keywords

Hopefully if you’re reading this, you have a decent grip on link building, backlinks and exactly why websites rank where they do. I’m going to cover some overlooked aspects of SEO and why targeting long tail keywords over monsters is a good idea.

Understanding how and why a website ranks where it does is imperative. If you don’t, read some of my other articles:

Once you truly understand why sites rank where they do, you can make instant judgments and know precisely what it will take to rank for a certain keyword. Once you can estimate what it will take to rank for a keyword, you can calculate how much it will cost you. (Just like with paid marketing)

And once you know what it will cost you, you can figure out if it’s a good investment. People forget that SEO is just like any paid traffic generation strategy. With paid marketing, you absolutely must crunch the numbers.

Long Tail KeywordsYou must estimate or calculate how much X amount of paid traffic will make you. You need to know that your marketing is profitable. If you spend $1000 on PPC, you’re going to need to sell at least 11 units of a $100 product to make the marketing worthwhile.

Usually with paid traffic people calculate three things: how many visitors they need per subscriber, how many subscribers they need per sale and how much they can spend per visitor. Knowing those three metrics allows you to spend serious money on traffic.

The same concepts apply to search engine optimization. Unfortunately most SEO’s just pick a few keywords, optimize their sites and start building links. They spend hundreds of hours doing SEO just hoping the keywords they rank for will eventually make them money.

A lot of the time, SEO isn’t worthwhile. Generally, the fools who don’t know anything about SEO want to rank for the insanely high competition keywords. In the Internet Marketing niche, people want to rank for terms like “internet marketing”, “make money online” and “how to make money”.

The kind of keywords that get tens of thousands of monthly searches, the monster ones.

The reality is the monster keywords just aren’t that lucrative. Sure, once you rank for them they’re probably going to make you a lot of money. But – the upfront cost required to rank for monster keywords is usually far greater than the end result i.e. profit.

Long term, ranking for monster keywords is most definitely worthwhile. However, when compared to ranking for long tail keywords; it’s simply a waste of time. It might take you $7000 and one year to rank for the term “make money online”. So that’s seven grand and a whole year of no results.

If you put that money into ranking for long tail keywords, you’d see traffic within weeks or even days. Ranking for long tail keywords is logically smarter. As you should know, the majority of searchers click on the top three ranking websites.

So if you can’t rank top three, there’s really no point in ranking at all. That’s why targeting monster keywords is a shockingly bad idea. Even if you do get on the first page, breaking into the top three positions is difficult. And when you do break into the top three positions, don’t think you’re done.

There’s a lot of maintenance. Why? Simply because you’ve got serious competitors. Everyone chases the monster keywords so if you stop doing SEO when you reach page one you’re going to fall behind. When you stop trying to rank for a monster keyword, the rest of page one will start to outrank you.

With long tail keywords, you generally have far less competition. So there’s very little maintenance involved. In fact, with many long tail keywords you’ll remain on page one for months or even years after you stop building links.

Also, 90% of the time you’re going to generate far more traffic targeting long tail keywords. If you go after a few monster keywords, it will probably take months or even years to rank for them. By that time the monster keywords might not be so popular. Some keywords lose half their monthly searches in a matter of weeks.

One event can kill a keyword. With long tail keywords you’re going to be less dependant on 1 source (keyword). That’s another incredible benefit that most SEO’s and webmasters overlook. Just like you need to diversify your income and traffic sources, you need to diversify the keywords you target.

Relying on 5-10 keywords to send you all your traffic is a ridiculous idea. I laugh at the people who go after the monster keywords as I know, they’ll probably be getting no results a year down the line. They may rank for the keywords, but not in the top 3 spots where all the traffic is. Or the traffic has died down and they’ve wasted all their month.

With long tail keywords you can rank fast so you can predict how much traffic you’re going to get and probably how much money you’re going to make. All because of the speed. If you go after “make money online” on the basis that it now gets 100,000 searches a month and your website converts at 4% from those kind of searchers. Well… You’re freaking high as a kite.

As in 8 months time which it might take you to rank page 1, the keyword may only get 30,000 searches a month and your website might only convert at 2%. In conclusion, target long tail keywords first. If you have the resources target monster keywords, but remember; by the time you rank for them it may be a whole different ballgame.

In Prosperity,

David Wood

P.S. Leave me your thoughts, comments and questions below. Also put your name and email address in the form on the right to get more SEO tips, tricks and secrets.

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3 comments
Astro Gremlin
Astro Gremlin

I learned this through experience and it's true. I ranked number one for a long tail on the same day I posted. It's held up pretty well, too. It's strange though, I have done the long tail thing on other posts that didn't rank. Real specific long-tails, too, not monsters at all. I think I'm in the camp that just tries stuff and hopes for Google to make lightning strike.

Tyronne Ratcliff
Tyronne Ratcliff

Going after the "long tail" is a great way to separate yourself from the competition and guarantees you traffic, great post as usual!

Micah
Micah

This is one other use for PPC. PPC allows you to almost instantly see which keywords are profitable, and which are not. This way you know a head of time which keywords are a waste of time to SEO and which are worth the effort.

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