How to Use Long Tail Keywords for E-Commerce Success

Every year, hundreds of small e-commerce sites fail because they used the wrong keyword strategy at the outset. Rather than chasing the (almost) impossible dream of ranking highly for a generic phrase like watches, find out how to be a bit savvier using long tail keywords.

The long tail explained

The long tail is a term coined by Chris Anderson in a Wired article (and later, a book). It refers to a statistical phenomenon most evident online that has been exploited by savvy e-commerce traders ever since.

The central premise is that the Internet has turned traditional market economics on its head. With geography no longer an issue, e-commerce retailers can make as much, if not more, by appealing to niche markets as they do to mass-markets.

As an example, let’s say Amazon makes £5 for every CD album they sell. They might make £10,000 selling 2000 copies of the new Lady Gaga album (the head). But they will also make £10,000 selling 1 copy of 2000 separate releases (the long tail).

In fact, the long tail very often comes to much more than the head.

Being at the head of the tail

The long tail is a well-observed phenomenon in SEO as well. A typical websites search traffic will come from a few high traffic keywords and an endless list of low traffic, niche keywords that when taken on aggregate often equal or exceed the traffic from the more prominent search terms.

It is far easier to rank highly for low-traffic, low competition keywords than it is for generic terms. Think silver strap watches rather than watches. Be as specific as possible with the title tags and meta descriptions on every single product page and you will often get a first-page ranking without doing anything more.

A quick look at Googles Keyword Tool will give you a good idea of what people actually type in when searching for your product(s) and which long tail keywords to target.

Type in your website URL and it will give you a list of ideas (along with approximate traffic and competition levels). Alternatively, put in a particular phrase you’re considering targeting to see related terms and how they compare.

Giving them what they want

Ranking for more long tail keywords will yield higher conversion rates.

Think about it. Let’s say you have a product page full of silver strapped watches. There may be thousands more people searching for watches than silver strapped watches, but a significant proportion of those people are looking for leather strapped watches.

On the other hand, every single person searching for silver strapped watches will find what they’re looking for on your page. They are already more likely to buy from you. It’s about achieving the highest correspondence between what people are searching for and what they find.

Whats e-commerce keyword strategies have you used, and which brought the best results? Please share your comments below.