Long Tail Keywords for Local SEO Success

June 10, 2013

It is no secret that Internet search results are an extremely busy shop window. Depending on the products and services your company offers it may feel as if you are competing with at best all the United States, and at worst, every website in the world.  If you try to optimize for the wrong keywords, this is what you are doing.

There are some keywords that you may think make sense for your business. If you are a law firm, peppering your content with words such as “lawyer” or “legal help” may have worked in the past – but these are extremely competitive search terms that bring in over 250,000,000 pages. That means that your firm, or your firm’s website needs to list above 249,999,989 other pages if it is going to appear on the first page. Clearly there needs to be another way.

Use local keywords

Instead of trying to list on the first page for a term like “lawyer,” savvy Orange County businesses can optimize their site for local, long tail keywords. By adding your area to the keyword phrases that you target, you reduce the number of sites needed to rank above. The keyword phrase “Orange County lawyer” gets searched more than 30,000 times a month – but produces one-fifth of the results that a search for “lawyer” on its own brings up.

When you consider, “Anaheim lawyer” gets searched an impressive 2400 times a month, and produces only a couple of million rather than a couple of hundred million pages it starts to become clear how powerful local keywords could be to your business. This kind of local and long tail search now accounts for over 70% of all searches entered into Google. Google is nudging people into long tail search decisions, and you want your site to show up on the first page when your potential clients enter the most relevant search terms.

Help your local customers

Now, if you’re thinking one step ahead, you will realize you are not only going to be reducing the competition your site needs to beat, but you will also be attracting local visitors to your site. It actually makes more sense to rank highly for “Orange County Lawyer” than “Lawyer.” The 30,000 plus who are searching for legal help in Orange county are more likely to be wanting your services than someone searching the general term.

Someone in New York probably isn’t interested in a lawyer from Anaheim – so if they see you listed, they might pass you by and click on to the second results page. However, if your website appears to people searching with local terms, you can expect they are close to sending you an email or picking up the phone.

Add to this the fact that people using long-term local keyword phrases are more likely to be in the buying mood. College students looking for tips on how to become a lawyer are unlikely to be searching with localized phrases. When you want to find out how to be a lawyer you search with general terms. When you want to visit a law firm in your city for legal advice, you search with local terms.

Get Deeper into the Long Tail

There is one more way you can drill deeper into long tail keywords to reduce SEO competition and increase the chances people who discover your site are actually looking for the services you offer. Whatever business you work in it is likely that you have your own specialty services. If you are an auto-repair shop, perhaps you specialize in German cars; if you sell vintage furniture perhaps you specialize in French polishing. People will be searching for a specific service to target long tail keyword phrases, which are not only easier to rank for, but are the exact keywords to describe what is being offered.

If you are divorce lawyer in Orange County, and you optimize for those results, the competition goes from 30 million hits to 2 million. A search for “divorce lawyer in Anaheim” delivers just 212,000. These long tail keyword phrases will be searched for less often, but as already discussed, you can be sure that once somebody is typing that exact phrase into Google, they are close to making contact with a local lawyer, who can help them in a divorce case. Clearly, you want that to be your firm.

Where to Place Long Tail Keywords

So now that you have learned the importance of long tail and local long tail keywords the final lesson is how to use the phrases you have identified to draw customers to your site. One of the key factors for appearing in local search is to have your address appearing above the fold as crawlable text on every page of your site.

You can then add to this by placing the keyword phrases you have identified into the content on your site. Pick a keyword phrase that is relevant to each page and optimize that page by using it at least 2-3 times in the body text. With that, place the keywords into the page’s title, header tags and image tags. Each page should target one keyword phrase. So, for example, if your law firm offers divorce services, and it offers commercial litigation, make sure to have a separate page for each of those practice areas; with relevant long tail keywords such as “Orange County commercial litigation” in the copy.

Traditional SEO techniques are an important foundation to have but they must be complemented with fresh content. Search engines crawl the Internet daily. For that purpose, it is important to develop an ongoing content marketing strategy.  New content should be added daily and shared on all relevant social media platforms.  The goal is to create content that will entice your audience to read, share and comment.

Make sure you have optimized your offsite position in terms of a Google Local+ business listing, directory citations and social media feeds.

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