Over the years, the usefulness of certain types of keywords has been debated, analyzed, celebrated, and even disparaged.
Long-tail keywords – those specific phrases of low-volume but perhaps higher-quality queries from searchers who are closer to taking action on procuring the product or service they seek – have certainly received a heck of a lot of recognition for their value to marketers.
However, I am here to declare the demise of these keywords that we held in such high regard only a few short years ago.
Please let me explain…
As the use of search has evolved and search engine optimization has become commonplace, businesses have succeeded in increasing their visibility in search results and made adjustments to be most visible for those queries they care most about.
This, by itself, would be fine; a positive and helpful thing actually, if the end effect was search results pages all containing exactly what the user was searching for. However, the issue we’ve seen is that queries on many broad keywords no longer provide the relevant results that a searcher wants.
A search engine user looking for information now often uses one of these two methods to arrive at the search results they need:
They start with a broad search and continue to refine that search until they get to appropriately relevant results.
They mentally refine their search, knowing the broad results will not bring what they want. So they begin with a more specific search and refine fewer times.
Certainly, longer search queries are becoming the norm. Part of the issue here is that Google has populated broad queries with many different universal result offerings… News, Images, Videos, Knowledge Graph. This moves those specific, relevant pages that many searchers are actually looking for further down the page – or possibly onto the next page.
Then, on top of those universal results, we have results like Wikipedia and educational …
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