Site reference thanks to the long tail

It is not unusual to read on many blogs that SEO by the long tail is one of the #1 tips from SEO experts. It therefore seems that this concept, popularized light years ago (in 2004) by Chris Anderson, is still the fatal weapon of SEO without positioning. This means that referencing is only possible on searches with little competition. What about the amount of phrases that need to be referenced to achieve sufficient and/or high quality traffic? Should we forget about the highly (too) competitive keywords?

What is the Long Tail?

Essentially, these are any phrases or keywords that generate few visits, but which, through accumulation, account for a high proportion of visits to a website. The long tail therefore generally consists of 4 to more keywords. Generic and therefore too competitive conditions are put aside (for example: paying off loans). The more extensive and specific a search, the more targeted it is (in the text).

SEO 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 little or no traffic. Indeed, it is enough to target keywords on which positioning will be easy and then post an article on that keyword and that’s it. It is a mistake to believe that the long tail alone can explode the attendance stats.

First, every keyword has potential. This reference potential must be highlighted with the competition: number of inbound links, age of domain names, flow of trust, flow of citations, sharing on social networks, notoriety of sites, number of pages, positioning, etc…

Second, the industrial quantity, of longtail keywords, which is needed to attract a lot of traffic, is huge. Imagine targeting keywords with less than 30 monthly visits, Google Adwords data (we play it easy), to be almost certain to position for them. If you’ve audited a minimum of the competition and the lights are green, you’ll need an impressive number of applications to arrive at an appropriate result. Not to mention the number of articles to be devoted to it, because I remind you: one keyword = 1 article. I’ll let you do the math.

Base your SEO on the long tail

Is it reasonable to base your SEO solely on long tail keywords? Of course not. I can already see a few gnashing their teeth. Let me explain: SEO shouldn’t focus on the long tail, it naturally comes from content written for more competitive queries. We often see a site being positioned on keywords where no particular effort has been made. It is a normal and logical incident of the content creation process that these expressions emerge naturally. (read this great article from Axenet on content creation)

Longtail SEO Strategies

However, there are smart people who think they have reinvented the wheel and offer solutions based on ‘long tail SEO’. These people try to convince you that the only way to position a site sustainably is by choosing the long tail as an SEO strategy (click here). These people will give you lists of keywords longer than 8 or 10 words. They will tell you to systematically associate the name of your place just to be present in Google Local. They’ll show you customer sites where the strategy works great, they’ll show you the site is first on many requests. These people are just lying to you.

Simply put: how were the specified keywords found? How many monthly searches? The competition? etc… It always comes down to the same thing!

It is very easy to be led to believe that the long tail is a wonderful SEO strategy, but that is absolutely not the case. Even less if you are told otherwise, 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 (some) backlinks. Some keywords will require more effort, others will be easier to position. The long tail will flow automatically.

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