This is the third in a three part series on strategically targeting mid-level keywords. In the first installment, we discussed the value of the long tail and that you can reach the long tail by targeting the middle . In the second section, we discussed site navigation and information archtecture that will help you to rank for the middle and the long tail . In the final article in the series, we'll show you how to build links and create content that will rank on mid-tier and long tail keywords.
On and Off Page SEO for Mid-Level & Long Tail Keywords
In the previous two posts in this series, we’ve discussed the value of long tail keywords, and we’ve covered how you can develop a long-tail-friendly navigation structure. In this installment, we’ll show you how to build links and create content that will enable your site to rank for both mid and lower competitive keywords .
Building Links to Mid Competition Pages
This is an extension of the above principle. The next step in this process is to direct targeted anchor text to middle-tail terms from external sites.
This is only possible with links on other sites that you “control”. Some great candidates for this would be:
- Directory links
- Profile links (social, forum, etc.)
- Links from friends (or anyone who will let you choose the text and page to point a link at)
An added bonus here is that in linking to mid-tier content you can typically use more compelling, differentiating anchor text.
Content Creation & On-Site SEO For Mid-Tier Keywords
Here is where you’ll create a nice infrastructure for longer tail queries. To do this, you can:
- Optimize for mid-tail terms.
- Include variations of your mid-tail term in the page’s sub-headlines (h2s and h3s).
- Create verbose (but well-optimized) content.
The first step is to optimize for both the middle of the graph (your core key phrase) and more specific variations. This means targeting your mid-competition phrase while prominently featuring variations. Extending the search marketing example, our page might look something like this:
- Title – Search Marketing Software – Streamline Your SEM Efforts
- h1 – What SEM Software Can Do for Your Business
- h2 – The Best Search Marketing Software is Efficient Search Marketing Software
Finally, you want to create longer documents. The search marketing Wikipedia page, like many, contains almost a thousand words. By creating a long document that includes natural language and a lot of industry specific terms, Wikipedia is ensuring that they are primed to rank for all kinds of random word combinations.
As a result, this Wiki article has driven a significant amount of traffic in the first month of 2009:
A lot of this traffic has to do with the domain’s trust (the volume of internal links), but a lot also has to do with the content structure and internal linking of Wikipedia.org.
Targeting Mid-Tier Keywords: The Most Profitable Strategy
Basically, what we’ve done is generated a means of competing for mid and long tail queries. We’ve even instituted a system that can rank for keywords  that don’t exist yet. Now all you have to do is build an authority domain, create content, and promote it! (Easy, right?).
Be sure to check back next week, when we'll be covering the value of keyword discovery, reseaching keywords for SEO and keyword expansion.
The Heads or Tails? Series:
- Part One: Heads or Tails? - How to Profit From Long Tail Keywords that Don’t Exist 
- Part Two: Informing the Tail - Mid-Level & Long Tail Information Architecture