It is not uncommon to read on many blogs that SEO is by the long tail and one of the tips No. 1 of SEO experts. It seems that this concept, popularized years ago (in 2004) by Chris Anderson, is still the fatal weapon of SEO in need of positioning. This implies that SEO is only possible on queries with low competition. What about the number of expressions to reference, to reach sufficient traffic and quality? Should we forget the very (too) competitive keywords?
What is the long tail?
Referencing thanks to the long tail
Explained in this way, it is very easy to believe that the long tail is a remedy for all sites that have no or little traffic. Indeed, it is enough to target keywords on which the positioning will be easy and then to write an article on the said keyword and that’s it. It is a mistake to believe that the long tail, by itself, can explode the traffic stats.
Firstly, every keyword has potential. This referencing potential is to be highlighted with the competition: number of incoming links, domain name age, trust flow, citation flow, shares on social networks, site awareness, number of pages, positions, etc…
Secondly, the industrial quantity of long-tail keywords that it takes to attract important traffic is gigantic. Let’s imagine that you target keywords with less than 30 monthly visits, Google Adwords data, (we play it small), to be almost certain to be positioned on it.
If you have audited a minimum of the competition and the lights are green, you will need an impressive number of requests to arrive at a suitable result. Not to mention the number of articles to devote to it, because I remind you: one keyword = 1 article. I let you do the math.
Basing your referencing on the long tail
Is it reasonable to base you’re referencing only on long tail keywords? Of course not. I can already see some of you gnashing your teeth. Let me explain: SEO should not focus on the long tail, this naturally follows from the content written for more competitive queries.
We often see that a site is positioned on keywords on which no particular effort has been made.
It is a normal and logical consequence of the content creation process that these expressions emerge naturally. (read this excellent article from Axenet on content creation)
Long tail SEO strategies
However, some intelligent guys think they have reinvented the wheel and who propose solutions based on “long tail SEO”.
These people try to persuade you that the only way to position a site sustainably is to choose the long tail as an SEO strategy (click here).
These people will give you lists of keywords with more than 8 or 10 words. They will tell you to systematically associate the name of your locality, to be present in Google Local.
They will show you client sites where the strategy works wonderfully, showing you that the site is 1st on many queries. These people are simply lying to you.
To put it simply: how were the given keywords found? How many monthly searches? The competition?
It is very easy to believe that the long tail is a miracle SEO strategy, but this is not the case. Even less when you are told the opposite, run away.
I’ll say it again, but SEO is not magic: the work is based on analysis, common sense, content creation (text, images, videos, etc. …), and (a little) backlinks. Some keywords will require more effort, and others will be easier to position. The long tail will follow automatically.