How many keywords do each of your website’s pages target? One? Two? With the help of our old friend, the long tail of keywords, Mark Nunney shows how you can optimize a single page for over 10,000 keywords if you ‘target the head and exploit the tail’.
Focus your page’s SEO on a primary and a secondary keyword
To get started, target each page’s SEO on a primary and a secondary keyword. Don’t make the common mistake of using different pages to target the same keywords.
Your page will be targeting many more than those two keywords - they are your starting point and your focus.
Your page can successfully target 10,000 keywords or more if you follow the steps given below and write up to a thousand (or more) useful or interesting words. Let me show you this really does work ...
The following image is from a Google Analytics report for a page from business website ThinkingManagers.com about swot analysis and strengths and weaknesses. We can see that visitors have used over 10,000 different keywords to reach it.
The incredible long tail of keywords
An amazing and illuminating part of that page's success is that it doesn't rank very well for its primary and secondary keywords. It is successful for so many different keywords because it digs deep into those keywords' long tails.
So the page doesn't rank well for the single (aka exact) keywords swot analysis and strengths and weaknesses. But it does great for their keyword niches, ie, keywords containing swot analyis and keywords containing strengths and weaknesses (like IBM swot analysis and business strengths and weaknesses).
Enter your target keywords into Wordtracker
On the following example page (see image below), the primary and secondary target keywords are business strategy and business continuity strategy.
You can see those keywords in the page title tag shown at the top of the browser window.
Enter your primary target keywords into Wordtracker’s Keywords tools. See images below...
First, Wordtracker's Keywords tool shows you up to 1,000 other keywords containing the 'seed' keywords you've entered. The image below shows the first 12 of 1,000 keywords.
Then use the 'related keywords tool' (the orange tool) to find up to 300 words and phrases associated with your seed keyword. The image below shows the first 20 of 300 results.
Use Wordtracker’s suggestions in your copy if possible and appropriate.
Use singulars, plurals, synonyms, similar and related keywords. Note that our example page uses strategic, strategies, planning, plans and strategy models.
Use target keywords in these specific places
Use your primary and secondary target keywords in the following positions on your page:
• Page title tag
• Description tag
• Headlines, sub-headlines and body text
• Internal and external links
• Image names and alt tags
Now let's look at each of those ...
Page title tag
See the following grab from our example page:
… the code of which looks like this:
<title>Business strategy | Business continuity strategy</title>
The most important thing to do with your page title tag is include your primary keyword at the start, followed by your secondary keyword.
I haven't done it in the example above but you do have the option of adding a small marketing message. Eg, that ThinkingManagers page might add 'Profitable business insights from Robert Heller'.
This tactic should increase the clickthrough rate of those who see your page listed on a search engine results page (SERP). But it will likely decrease the number who see your listing in the first place because those extra words in your page title tag reduce the power given to the others (your target keywords).
Personally I use the page title tag to maximize those who see my pages and then use the description tag (see below) to increase clickthrough rate.
Also, some sites like to add their brand name to page title tags and there are some interesting studies correlating SERPs results with the presence of brand names in page title tags. Seeing popular brand names might encourage clickthroughs from SERPs but is your brand well known enough for that? Maybe. More importantly, correlation is not cause and it might just be that (for the websites in these studies) the presence of brand names in page title tags also correlates with being well known brands that have lots of links or good SEO in general.
Your description metatag won't improve your SERPs (search engine results pages) rankings as it’s not directly considered by search engines. But a good description metatag can increase your clickthrough rate once your site is seen on a SERP.
Also there is some evidence that increased clickthroughs might in turn increase rankings.
Here’s a simple formula for your description tags:
<primary keyword> & <secondary keyword> & <some benefits your site offers visitors>.
And (if you’re really clever) add a call to action. Followng is an example from ThinkingManagers.com:
“Business strategy & Business continuity strategy: Improve your business with advice and a free newsletter from leading business writer Robert Heller”
Here’s the code for that:
<meta name="description" content="Business strategy & Business continuity strategy: Improve your business with free insight and advice from leading business writer Robert Heller" />
Headlines, sub-headlines and body text
Following is a grab from our example site showing a headline and a sub-headline which includes our target keywords:
Next, below is a screenshot of the start of the example page’s body text, with target keywords highlighted:
Note we haven’t used the target keywords as much as we might have. But don’t be afraid to use them more if you think it won't reduce the level of response from your readers. But don't stuff keywords onto the page. Make sure your sentences are real sentences and you use variations such as singulars, plurals, synonyms, similar and related keywords.
I can't overestimate the importance of using this variety of different words. It does two things:
• Shows Google your page is natural, relevant (to your target keywords) and not spam.
• Allows you to target more long tail and related keywords.
We could talk about latent semantic indexing (LSI) or even latent dirichlet allocation (LDA) but you end up at the same simple place: create focused pages with natural copy.
Internal and external links (use text)
The blue text in the body copy above is links to other pages on the site. Notice how they use the target keywords (and variations of them). It’s also good practice to link to other sites, preferably sites that rank well for your target keywords.
Image names and alt tags
Use your target keywords (and variations including similar and related keywords) in your image names and alt tags. But your image names and alt tags are relevant to the images (otherwise you're spamming.)
Write 1,000 words if you can
Long, detailed, useful, inspiring or amusing articles that follow the above guidelines will target the long tail of keywords that your target market are searching with. This will include thousands of keywords that you can’t research - some of which haven't even been thought of because 20% of all searches in any one day are (according to Google) made with keywords that have either never been used or have been used just once in the last six months.
Also - long, detailed, useful, inspiring or amusing articles will be linked to if they are found. And building links from other sites is essential for SEO success.
It's worth noting that if your long article is that way because is contains so much useful information then it is more likely to be linked to. And building links from other sites is essential for SEO success.
So whatever you're writing about, make your page so good that others will want to share it and link to it.
Google gives us some help here. On Google knol, I think Google are describing what for them is the perfect web page on any subject and they say "as a general rule a good knol will be longer than a typical web page. Because knols are meant for readers who want more detail on a subject, they should be more in-depth than most web content"
To be clear, you don't have to write 1,000 words. Two pages with fewer words and more focused subject matter will perform better than one rambling unfocused article. And a product page on an ecommerce site might struggle for more than 100 words. All fine. If you can't add long pages then just add more - each focused on a subject and matching target keywords.
Now get some links
You can optimize 'on a page' all you like but you'll need inbound links for real success. The more competitive a keyword niche, the more important links are.
The first links you can give a page are from your own site. Most powerfully, give your page a link from your site's home page. One way to do this is to make sure your home page automatically links to new pages. This is normal on blogs but not so on ecommerce sites.
Next, be sure your site has category pages (or tag pages, it's the same thing) and your page is linked to from relevant categories.
Links from within unique text are more powerful than links in lists and menus. So link to your new page from within the copy of relevant pages.
Now get some links from other websites.
Checklist for optimizing a web page
• Start with a keyword strategy for your whole site
• Plan a structure for your site's content
• Choose primary and secondary target keywords
• Enter your target keywords into Wordtracker to find long tail keywords, similar keywords and related keywords. Take a free 7-day trial here.
• Write natural copy, focused on one subject, using singular, plural, similar (in meaning) and related (associated with) keywords
• Page title tag
• Description tag
• Internal outbound links (to other pages on your site)
• External outbound links (to other sites)
• Image names and alt tags
• Internal inbound links from related pages and your home page
• External inbound links from other sites
About Mark Nunney
Mark Nunney has been a successful professional SEO since 2000. He is CEO of The Website Marketing Company and he publishes Leadership & Management Review from ThinkingManagers.com, the business management website.
Mark wrote SEO for Profit, Wordtracker Masterclass: Keyword Research book and co-wrote Wordtracker Masterclass: Link Building with Ken McGaffin. He is also the founder and project manager of Wordtracker Strategizer.