As much I want to believe that most marketers understand the topic of the long tail as it applies to search marketing, I shudder at the thought that they had recently read through the entirety of Chris Anderson’s book. Hailed as much as a new way of thinking about business, it came across to me as vaguely obvious, working on things I thought I already knew. Maybe I’ve just been daydreaming.
Regardless, whenever I’m asked to optimize internal factors for a site that “has been worked on before” I’m appalled at all of the one-word keyword targets littered across the site. A commercial mortgage lender, for example, might be have meta keywords that look like this:
“commercial lender, mortgages”
Meta keywords not having the weight that they used to , its no excuse for splitting apart the entire keyword phrase for which the entire business is targeted. Yes, they might fit the description of “commercial lender,” but “mortgages?” With a target deal size of about 2 million dollars, chances are they don’t want to talk to you about refinancing your 3 bedroom house. It’s nothing against you, but there are places for that.
And as ever, it sends a mixed message to the search engines. If in various regions of the site the words commercial, lender, and mortages are each independently sprinkled, the search engine MAY work things out and put your frayed logic together. Sophisticated as a the ranking algorthym may be in its complexity, a search spider is a pretty dumb piece of software. Don’t make it work too hard.
This is to say nothing of user intent. If indeed you were vague enough to target the keyword mortgages (Bankrate and Bank of America, I applaud you) you had better have usable content on your site to back it up, and convert some meaningful interaction out of your visitor. A search for “home mortgage refinance” as opposed to its shorter cousin, has much more in the way of user intent that would actually lead to some form of a transaction. Heaven forbid you should actually target a keyword with the user intent built in (such as “buy” or “purchase”). Sadly, our jobs as search marketers aren’t always made that easy for us.
So finally, you don’t have to go read Chris Anderson’s book, but by God, understand supply and demand is it applies to your keyword targets, and pick accordingly, please.