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Joanna Swartwood, Director of Marketing and Revenue GrowthMon, Feb 17, 2014 16 min read

Inbound Marketing Hack: Long-Tail SEO Lead Gen

What if I told you that the goal of your SEO campaign should not be to simply rank for a term Rather, your SEO goal should be to increase your overall organic search traffic -AND- to convert that traffic into leads.

Increasing organic website visits can come in the form of ranking really well for one very popular term or ranking well on many smaller keywords (we call them long-tail keywords). Many times marketers forget the second strategy and stay too fixated on ranking for only the high traffic keywords.

Additionally, we also tend to forget that ranking is nice, but our ultimate goal should be to convert that traffic into leads. Someone visiting your site and leaving won't get you closer to your overall goals, but capturing them into leads will.

In today's blog, we're going to look at a proven successful Inbound Marketing hack for not only boosting your organic search from long-tail keywords, but also for successfully turning that traffic into leads.

inbound-marketing-hack-long-tail-seo.jpgI want to start out by saying this is not the normal process I would recommend for your Inbound Marketing efforts. This process is simply a small hack with a goal of converting more organic search traffic. The order and focus of a full Inbound Marketing strategy and content strategy will differ from the hack listed below.

Step 1 - Find The Long-Tail Keyword

The first step to this process is to find which keywords we have opportunity to rank for. This is usually NOT the first step in an Inbound Marketing campaign, however, for this hack we will start here.

We will be on the lookout for long tail keywords which receive a decent number of searches, that are fairly non-competitive and that you currently do not rank on. There are a number of ways to identify these keywords:

Looking at Current Organic Traffic - One method is to look at which long tail keywords are already driving some traffic to your site and then try and improve the rank and number of visits you're receiving from that term.

There are many tools out there for tracking this kind of information, from Moz's keyword report to Hubspot's keyword tool. However, if you currently aren't using a service to track this, even Google's webmaster tools and Analytics can show you some great insight.

Unfortunately, Google's privacy policy has made it harder and harder to see full keyword results, with typically 60-70% of information coming in a "Not Provided" - But sometimes you can still find some gem keywords in your analytics reports.

Although the information is limited in Google Analytics, in Google Webmaster tools there is much more data you can see. Once logged in, go to the "Search Traffic" menu on the right side and then click on the "Search Queries" menu. Then expand the timeframe to the last 90 days (the maximum webmaster tools will show).

webmaster-tools

This will now show you all the keywords that people are searching for and clicking on to get to your site. You can filter by impressions, clicks and click through rate. If you find a term with a great number of impressions, low number of clicks and a bad average position, you may want to consider that term for your long tail keyword.

Keyword Prospecting - Another way to find long tail keywords you want to rank for is doing keyword prospecting to see what else is out there. These would be long tail keywords that people are searching for that you currently are NOT ranked for.

From competitive analysis tools to adwords keyword Placement tool, there are many tools available to your that can help identify these keywords. However, there is one very simple tool that you can start your research with, Google's predictive search. Predictive search is when you go to google.com and start typing into the search box and Google will pop up popular searches around that same topic matter.

predictive-search

You can spend 30-40 minutes typing in various questions, keywords or industry terms to see what predictive search may pop up. Once identified, then use Google's Adword Keyword Planner tool to see the general search volume for each term to see which terms are most searched for.

For more information on keyword prospecting, check out, "Keyword Research After The Keyword Tool, (Not Provided) & Hummingbird Apocalypse"

Step 2 - Identify The Persona

After you have the long tail keyword that you want to rank for selected, then you need to best place that keyword with one of your associated personas. Think about who would be searching for this term and why. Think about what problem they are trying to solve by searching for it and which persona matches that problem.

We want to match the keyword term to a persona because this will allow us to create the best possible content when we move to writing our blogs and conversion offers.

Step 3 - Choose Your Product/Service

After you've chosen the persona you want to target with this hack, then you will need to choose the "solution" (meaning the product or service) that your company offers that you eventually would like the persona to purchase.

We want to keep this in mind because it can help us understand the funnel a bit better and allow us to choose content topics that will best fit the persona, lifecycle stage and intended solution which will increase the overall effectiveness of your content.

Step 4 - Create Blogs

Once you have identified the long tail keyword you'd like rank for and you've paired that term with a persona and product, the next step will be to develop the actual content. When creating the content your will want to keep all the information you gathered in the first three steps in mind. This will help ensure the success of your content with those who are searching.

I would suggest writing 2-3 different blogs that focus on that keyword. This way if one happens to not rank well, the others can take it's place. Additionally, depending on how someone phrases their search, it may rank one of your blogs better/worse than another.

The content should be laser focused on the long tail keyword you're trying to rank for and the intent of the user searching for it. If possible, I would highly suggest making the title of the blog start with the keyword term (as long as it makes sense).

I would also recommend making it a bit longer blog so that Google knows there is a lot of "meat" to it. Write somewhere between 1000-1500 words, keeping in mind the keyword you're trying to rank for and using it where it makes sense throughout the article.

Step 5 - Develop A Simple Conversion Offer

Time to create! Here we will now create a simple complimentary conversion offer that we can direct people to from the blog we are ranking. It should expand on the idea/information that was talked about in the blog so that people who read the blog and want to learn more will convert on it.

I use the word, "simple" because in order to make this hack scalable and repeatable we need to make sure we can create these quickly. However, it is critical that your offer still does offer great value to the reader and helps solve a problem they are have.

Some good examples of quick and easy conversion offers include checklists, step-by-step guides, workbook or template. If you write an ebook, I would suggest keeping it around 2,000-3,000 words. 

Step 6 - Bottom Blog Conversion vs. Landing Page

Now we will start creating the actual conversion point on our website, for  which we have two options: On-Blog Conversion or Landing Page Conversion.

An on-blog conversion would be a module added right at the bottom of the blog which will show the offer, a small bit of information and have the form to fill out all right there. Think of this as almost a "mini landing page" within a module at the bottom of the blog.

The advantage of this is that it eliminates one of the steps in the conversion process, which in theory should increase conversion rates because there is less friction in the process. The downside is you can't include as much information about the offer and typically the form must be short.

The second option is to have a separate landing page for the conversion offer that has all the information about the offer along with the form to download it. In this case, you can include more information about the offer, ask more questions on the form and even include other conversion assist items like a video, about the author or customer testimonial.

You may want to test both methods out and see which one works best for your audience. It will also depend on the offer itself. For bigger, more in-depth offers you may need a full landing page to communicate the value to the user. For smaller, easy to understand offers like a checklist, you can probably get away with just the in-blog conversion.

Step 7 - SEO Campaign Around Your Blog

The last step of the process is to work your butt off to get that blog post to rank in the search results. This can be as simple as just publishing it, or could be more involved and require a bigger SEO campaign. This will depend on your own website's authority and the competitive nature of that specific long tail keyword.

On-Site SEO: There are a number of things to keep in mind in regards to on-site SEO for your blog. The first would be optimizing the blog title, page title, meta description, rel=author, etc. To learn more about how to do this, read: "Moz's On Page Ranking Factors"

One word of caution, make sure you still ballance SEO with keeping the article user friendly. Do not force in keywords where it doesn't make sense or isn't natural. We still need to keep users happy in order to work to convert them on the associated conversion offer.

In addition, I would suggest linking to the blog article from other parts of your website. If you have related products, services or pages on the site, add in a "Related Blogs" module you can link to your blogs from.You could also have a "Top Blogs" module and link to the various blogs you're trying to rank and would be relevant for your audience. This will not only pass on "Link Juice" from those pages to your blog you're ranking, but also you can create a sitemap for it and add the sitemap to Webmaster Tools.

Lastly, once the blog is live, I would suggest going into Google Webmaster tools and using the "Fetch as Google" tool so that the blog can get crawled quickly. This tool will essentially "poke" google to crawl that page. You can learn how to use this tool here.

Off-Site SEO: Once you have all the on-page SEO optimized around the long tail keyword you're trying to rank for. This obviously is a huge topic, so for sake of time, here are some additional resources to check out and learn about creating off-site SEO campaigns:

Pro SEO Tip

If the websites that are already ranking in the search results page for the long tail keywords have a higher page and domain rank, it will probably be harder to out rank them for that term.

If this is the case, then simple guest blog the post on someone's website who has a higher ranking domain rank. This will ensure that you'll out-rank all the current results fairly easily and even get it in-front of another audience who normally wouldn't have seen the blog.

It gets a bit trickier because most likely you will not be able to add in a call to action graphic at the bottom of your article, however, if you work in a link where it makes sense in the article, you can still drive people to your conversion offer landing page.

You goal should be to continuously be developing these mini-inbound marketing campaigns around your top long tail keywords. Once you have a handful developed and promoted, you will really start seeing some big impacts on your lead generation efforts.

You can always work in reverse too. Look at the blogs you already have that are ranking well and have the highest amounts of visits. Then create mini-conversion offers around those exact topics to try and improve conversion rates on that blog.  

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