In response to numerous inquiries and emails from readers of the blog in relation to keyword research/content creation and what on earth long tail keywords actually are (from a marketers point of view) I have decided that the easiest and best way of answering those questions was to edit this original article, making it more applicable to the questions being asked – and republishing it here.

In this post I will be discussing the importance of long tail content and why understanding the difference between long tail keywords and long tail traffic is crucial to a successful content marketing campaign.

Whether you are promoting a personally branded blog or 20 small niche websites, without traffic you are dead in the water. The thing is, and you hear this all the time, you can’t have traffic without an offer. Or you can’t have traffic without a sales funnel, or a clear message to market or whatever the case may be. This is true to a point, but what is it that all of these ‘prerequisites’ have in common? Content.

They say content is king and you know what, ‘they’ are right. I said before that without traffic you are dead in the water, well without content you are not even getting in the water in the first place!

I know Corbett himself is a proponent for the value of good content. Write Epic Shit as he would so eloquently put it. And if his (now not so) recent post 21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Set Your Blog Up for Massive Growth is not proof enough that quality content sells itself then you’re just not getting it. For those who already do though…

Today I wanted to share the processes I use to build traffic and rank my niche sites using Content. In the process I hope to dispel a few myths about what ‘long tail’ actually means (and why Google Analytics isn’t helping) and how you should approach content distribution since the recent algorithm change (aka the Panda update)

Defining the Longtail longtail definitions can be confusing

“Don’t Ask Me. I HAVE a Long Tail and I Still Don’t Get It!”

If we Google the definition of longtail, it tells us that Long tail keywords are keyword phrases composed of three or more words that collectively are more specific than a single keyword. As a general rule long tail keywords are more likely to convert to sales (more buyer specific) and have less competition.

This is true, but it’s also misleading, because although the goal is indeed to rank for those afore mentioned longtail keywords, what we are actually trying to get is longtail traffic.

Longtail Keywords vs. Longtail Traffic. There’s a Difference?

Oh most definitely! And once you understand this you are well on your way to a lot more traffic.

Longtail Keywords are buyer specific. For example – where ‘cordless drill’ is the keyword, ‘Makita bdf452hw 18v compact cordless drill’ is the targeted longtail version.

Longtail Traffic however is topic specific, so if the keyword is cordless drill then the longtail traffic version of that keyword is, well pretty much everything except a cordless drill.

Example: Cordless Drills are used for Home Improvement projects and DIY jobs around the home – so my longtail content is all about that. Sure I might mention the drill in the article, but the focus is not on the drill itself. The process of writing about building a pergola and fencing the backyard will indirectly be targeting more long tail keywords than you even knew existed for the niche/product.

long tail traffic and long tail keywords are two different things As you can see there is a lot of organic traffic coming from a stupidly large amount of keywords. Do you really think I optimised my pages and my content for over 4000 keywords?! Exactly. Crafting Content that Actually Attracts Traffic.

The Secret is to stay on topic, but not too on topic. Let’s use another example:

I have a site selling Lawn Mowers and on the site I review various models and optimize the pages for longtail keywords like ‘Victa Model ABC Lawn Mower Review’ and ‘Husqvarna Ride-On Mower Review’. So now I need content.

Now whether I use this content on the site or off it, the most important thing I need to remember is that I should never write about lawn mower reviews specifically. Why? Because we want content to attract traffic to our money page, not for the content to become the attraction itself.

“I want content that compliments my ‘money pages’ not content that competes against it in the search engines”

Finding Complimentary Content Ideas.

So if I can’t write about specific lawn mower models and review them directly, what can I write about? And more importantly – where do I get ideas and inspiration when I get stuck?


Forums have always been an incredibly effective way of getting information on any niche, and the same thing goes for longtail content ideas. Not only does a forum provide an endless list of highly relevant questions that the market is asking, it is also a window into the type of people that are your potential customers. Getting an insight into who your customer is can open up the floodgates when it comes to finding longtail content ideas.

Example: I again searched for Headphones in Forums. Not only did I get pages and pages of detailed threads pertaining to all model headphones under the sun, I also now have even more longtail content ideas – for example ‘ Headphones for flight –what is best?’ , ‘is buying unmatched headphones worth it?’ and ‘Good Head Set for Studio Level Mixing?’

Common Sense and Life Experience.

Speaking of knowing your customer, if you take the time to think about it – you’ve also been a customer – for quite a while now in fact. The problem with spending too much time analysing market trends and profiling your ‘ideal customer’ is that you forget the really obvious things. Stop and think about your actual life, (you know the one you had before you started this online thing ;) ) surely you’ve had at least a modicum of experience with the product/subject in question?!

Common Sense also allows you to think logically about the niche/product, something that no keyword tool can do. From this logical progression of thoughts comes a whole boatload of ideas. Speaking of boatload, surely people going on a cruise ship would be in need of headphones. But which ones are best?

And once again common sense and life experience takes us to a place no analytically based tool ever could. Seriously – you’ve already got all the brilliant content ideas you will ever need in your head – you just need to start creating copies of them. create unique longtail keyword content

Not Literally Though! Sheeesh, some people.

Now You Have the Content (Ideas), What Do You Do With It (Them)?

This is where the battle for traffic supremacy is won and lost, because there is no point crafting the right content if neither Google nor the people can find it.

But first we need a few more versions of that content.

“Whoa! Hang on a second, What About the Panda?!”

The biggest misconception surrounding the latest Google Algorithm update (the Panda) is that it killed content distribution as an effective method of building rank and traffic, and honestly that’s just not true.

The Panda Update was aimed at penalizing spammy sites made up of low quality content, not the actual content itself. What this effectively did was put a whole new emphasis on quality content and basically did away with the grey hat SEO technique of spinning 1000’s of copies of an article and then submitting them to hundreds of private blog networks and directories. Spinning and Submitting Rewriting and Leveraging Your Content

With Quality the key to content distribution, the days of spinning and submitting are all but dead. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure to an extent the method is still very effective, but if you want the traffic and the rank to actually last longer than your dinner then you need to venture elsewhere.

The trick to rewriting your content is honestly to not. The tools I have provided you with here should be sufficient to find more than enough article titles and ideas to last you a lifetime, but sometimes of course we write that ‘perfect article’ and we want everyone to see it. If this is the case… Here is my easy to follow guide to writing 3 or 4 versions of the same article:

  • Break the article into sentences, each about 3 or 4 lines long (50 or so words)
  • Put a space/break under each sentence.
  • Change colour to blue and write a new version of the first sentence, and the second… and so on and so forth.
  • Change colour to red and do the same for the third version.
  • You are only limited by the amount of colours you have really, but I recommend 5 versions at most or your wrist feels like it will snap off. Trust me.

This method ensures that each sentence rewrite is 100% unique. You’d be surprised how many different ways you naturally write the same thing actually. Just start rewriting, you’ll see ;)

Apart from your own pages there are only three places you should be distributing your quality content as far as I am concerned. Get your content here and I can guarantee your rank, and the resulting traffic will climb exponentially.

Marketing Summary

Creating quality content that is both relevant and timely is the key to surviving online. It always has been this way but the Panda went and reminded us all that it was more prevalent than ever. You can spend as much time as you like submitting your site to directories and building social bookmarks to your pages, but nothing is ever going to beat the quality that comes with a real editorial link in a relevant article. If you want something in SEO, then (much like in life) you need to work hard for it. Why do you think no one has managed to automate this process yet. Useful & Relevant Outsourcing Resources