A Really Easy (and Powerful) Long-Tail Approach to On-Page SEO
WordStream today announced the release of WordStream Keyword Management for SEO, which has an important new feature: the WordStream SEO for Firefox Plug-in. This new plug-in provides seamless access to your keyword research data as you author or edit Web content in your CMS or blog. In this post, I'd like to talk a bit about the underlying design philosophy behind the product, and show how we've developed features that try to simplify various best practices for on-page SEO.
Target the Head
When authoring content for SEO, it's critically important that you:
- Pick a specific, primary topic that is both popular and relevant to your business.
- Author content that specifically targets your selected topic, making your page more likely to show up in organic search results for those keywords.
WordStream SEO for Firefox is, among other things, an SEO content topic finder. Just type in a word and click Suggest Topics to get a list of promising topics (as opposed to just a list of keywords) to review. Why? Because people search for the same thing in many different ways – so you should think about SEO in terms of targeting a niche of related keywords rather than individual terms.
Once you've selected your primary content topic, WordStream helps you explore the topic in greater detail with three tabs. The first is the Top Keywords tab, with the most popular searches within your selected primary topic (i.e., your "head terms"). These are generally the most competitive keywords in your niche, so give them prominent placement in high-value areas of your page, including the title tag, headings, URL, meta-description, first paragraph, and image ALT text.
Leverage the Tail
But head terms can be difficult to rank on, especially if you're a relatively new website, or if you're targeting a competitive niche. This is where the long tail can help. Targeting the long tail for SEO can be challenging because:
- People often search using broken, caveman-like English. For example, say your topic is "Hawaii beach" and someone searched on "best Hawaii beach black sand map" – you can see that it's difficult to include this exact long-tail keyword phrase on your page without seeming ridiculous to human readers.
- The long tail is super long – there are just so many different ways of searching for a topic, it's impossible to anticipate them all or include all of them on your page.
So how's an SEO supposed to target the long tail? WordStream SEO for Firefox includes a Long-Tail Keyword Modifiers tab which displays the most popular long-tail modifiers that are used in conjunction with searches pertaining to your primary topic.
In this example, we should try to work popular word modifiers like Waikiki, white, sandy, beaches, resort, hotel and rentals into the page copy, used in conjunction with your primary topic. This way the page will read naturally while also casting a wider net – the page becomes eligible to show up on a more diverse mix of long-tail searches that pertain to your primary topic. Going back to our "best Hawaii beach black sand map" example, look how the top result for this search doesn't include the exact phrase, but nevertheless won the top spot in the list because it includes words like 'map' and 'best'.
WordStream also includes a Question Keywords tab, featuring keywords within your selected topic that appear to be questions. Try to ask and answer popular questions around your topic to provide your audience with valuable content and gain even more opportunities to rank in search engine results pages.
Successful on-page search engine optimization requires choosing a primary keyword topic and writing copy that includes head keywords, long-tail keyword modifiers, and questions related to that topic. This may sound like difficult work, but the WordStream SEO for Firefox plugin makes it easy to get the keywords from your research into the contents of your Web page.
Blog/CMS Integration: WordStream SEO for Firefox provides integration with various popular content management systems, blog platforms and Web-based, rich-text editing tools to help you take action on your keywords. To get started, click the Create Content button and the plug-in will automatically log you into your blog or CMS an open a window to create a new post or page. Currently, the following is a partial list of the supported Web publishing systems:
Insert Keyword into Document or Copy/Paste: When exploring your selected primary topic, right-click on a keyword in any of the keyword tabs to expose a short-cut menu:
- Insert into Document: Inserts the selected keyword into your document in the location of your cursor.
- Copy: Saves the selected keyword to your clipboard for you to paste anywhere in your document
Insert Tags, Meta Keywords or Labels
Most blogs or content management systems include ways to categorize your content through the use of tags, meta-keywords or labels. To optimize your content for search engines, it is recommended that you use keywords that are popular and related to your primary topic. To do this, select the Find Tags, Meta Keywords or Labels option from the short-cut menu. Type in a word or phrase and WordStream will display a list of related keywords and keyword variations – select the ones you feel are the most relevant to your content and click Apply.
WordStream's keyword suggestion tools are available at your fingertips – just select a word or phrase in your document (as if you were copying the keyword), then click on the Search for Keywords option located in the short-cut (right-click) menu. The tool displays a list of popular keyword variations for your search – pick one that makes the most sense and WordStream will insert the keyword into your document.
Keyword Counting & Highlighting: As you're writing your content, WordStream helps keep track of your SEO progress. The plug-in tracks keyword counts in the Top 10 Keywords, Long Tail Keyword Modifiers, and Questions tabs. Every time a word in your target list appears in the body of your document, WordStream will increment the count. Try to work as many of the keywords into your body content as you can, but don't over-optimize.
Accessing your Own Keyword Research in the WordStream SEO for FireFox Plug-in
I mentioned earlier that this new plug-in is an important component of WordStream Keyword Management for SEO, a hosted application for conducting, analyzing, organizing and managing your keyword research.
You can access your saved keyword research projects directly from the plug-in, under the My Keyword Research tab. All of the above functionality (selecting a primary topic, exploring the topic for top, long-tail, and question keywords, and getting those keywords into your content) applies – the main difference is that you'll be leveraging your own proprietary, private keyword research.