The Short Tale of Long-Tailing it in Blogging for Business

  1. long tail keywords

In the animal world, fellow Mensan Bob Truett pointed out, there are several purposes for tails, including:

  • balance (as the animal climbs)
  • temperature control (for cover in the cold, for fanning in the heat)
  • defense (to swat enemies o
  • social purposes (dogs wagging their tails)

In the internet world, the concept of the “long tail” is based on the fact that when searchers type in very specific, three-to-four word phrases to describe what they want, those searchers are more likely to convert (to become buyers). The term “long tail keyword” itself comes from the 2006 book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, which talks about niche marketing. The author explains that in brick and mortar stores, there is only so much shelf space, so marketers need to focus on their most popular products. On the internet, in contrast, where there is unlimited “space”, selling in relatively small quantities to people who want specific products, becomes eminently feasible. In fact, Neil Patel (one of my own go-to authorities) asserts, “The longer the keyword, the easier it is for you to rank well with that keyword.”

Winning search should not be the only goal. Business owners and practitioners who make the commitment to give blog marketing a spot in their overall business strategy stand to reap three types of benefits:

  1. The promotional benefit (the blog helps get customers excited enough to choose you over the competition).
  2. The credibility benefit (the blog demonstrates that you’re interested in using the latest tools to communicate with customers – you’re “in the game”).
  3. The training benefit (as you review the benefits of your own products and services and develop new ideas, you’re constantly learning to talk effectively about your business).

Long-tailing it is no shortcut to success, a thought I often share with blog content writers in this Say It For You blog. But, just as tails serve many functions in the animal world, blogging for business can add balance, grasp, defense, and social purpose in the world of the internet.


A Business Blog By Any Other Name

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked “What’s in a name?”, and the playwright supplied an answer -“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would it? Do names matter?

Each year, the Social Security Administration publishes a list of the most popular baby names. Ten years ago, for example, parents were naming their boys Aiden, Jayden, and Ethan. (As of last year, the favorites were Liam, Noah, and William.) A decade ago, girls were being called Emma, Olivia, Ava, and Isabelle (Today the favorites still include Emma.)

One objective in business blogging is winning search, so what you “name” your post, in terms of both its title and the meta description (the 160-character snippets that appear on the search engine page), can matter a lot. lists different approaches content writers can take in “naming” their posts, including:

Start to finish guide….
Advanced guide to….
An in-depth guide to….

Where, What, Why
Here’s why….
What you can learn from…

The simple…
A simple strategy for….
…ing made simple…

At Say It for You, I often speak about “Huh?” and “Oh!” names for blog posts. The “Huh?s” need subtitles to make clear what the post is about. “Oh!s” titles are self-explanatory. The “Huh?s” are there to startle and arouse curiosity. The subtitle than clarifies what the focus of the piece will actually be. Ideally, the name of the product or service is inserted into the “Oh!” part of the title.

A blog post by any other name might “read as sweet”, but the function of the title is to get them reading in the first place!


Blogging for Business With a Long Tail


Keyword phrases come in two “sizes” – short tail and long tail, explains to adword buyers. Short tails consist of one or two words and, because people are likely to search those terms more often, they bring in more online traffic. Long tails typically consist of 3-5 words, targeting more specific searches. The big advantage of long-tail keywords is that your ad is likely to be a lot more relevant to what people are actually searching for. Focusing on qualified buyers (who are “higher up on the sales funnel”) should boost conversion rates, verticalresponse advises.

  1. When researching keywords, explains, search engine optimizers consider three qualities:1. Search volume – the average number of times people have searched for a given keyword during a specified period
    2. Competition – how easy/hard it is to outrank competitors with a given keyword
    3. Relevance – how relevant the term is to your specific product, service, or website topic

Due to the increasing financial power wielded by large corporate advertisers, combined with the increasing efficiency of search engine algorithms, long tail keywords now comprise up to 70% of all search traffic, a survey by hittail revealed. That means it is far easier today to rank well for a multi-word keyword phrase, which is highly specific to your niche, than for a generic one or two word phrase. If you are fairly new to the marketplace, hittail advises, you need to outline the most relevant niche keywords and target them on your website by publishing blog posts, articles and landing pages.

No matter what else is “right” or “wrong” with your blog marketing efforts, Neil Patel says, (you will be ranked by site speed, mobile friendliness, engagement, etc.), “you’ve got to remember that on-page keyword phrase usage boosts the search volume performance of your content marketing efforts, by up to 15.04%”.

Patel is quick to remind readers that bottom line sales are not the only goal of blog marketing. “Remember that your content marketing goal must align with your organizational goal,” Patel says.  In addition to customer acquisition, goals might include

  • brand awareness
  • lead generation
  • customer retention and loyalty
  • building trust and rapport
  • exploring prospect pain
  • reputation-building
  • thought leadership

Achieving any or all of the above, as we teach as Say It For You, depends on getting found and getting read. On the positive side, as I assure business owners and practitioners just starting to do blog marketing, “The only people who are going to be reading your blog posts are those who are searching for precisely the kinds of information, products, and services that relate to what you do, what you have for sale, and what you know how to do.” The big advantage of incorporating long-tail keywords in the title and the body of your blog post is that is that those searchers are more likely to find you!


Contrarian Content: Go Ahead – Blog to Differ

contrarian blogging

Whatever the conventional wisdom is, Brute Squad coach Ariel Jackson begs to differ. “In order to progress, we need to stop automatically accepting conventional wisdom as dogma and train ourselves to explore nuances and identify new approaches,” Jackson says.

There’s something very appealing and curiosity-stimulating about contrarian content, and, whether it’s business-to-business blog writing or business to consumer writing, being a contrarian has two effects:

  1. making readers sit up and take notice (This is not going to be same-old, same-old, readers realize.) 
  2. clarifying what differentiates your business or professional practice from its peers. (Again, why should we choose you if you’re serving up the same product and service as everyone else?)

On the issues relating to your field, what words should follow “I beg to differ”? When online readers find your blog, they want to know “Who lives here?” To be perceived as not only a provider, but an influencer, you need to formulate – and clearly state – your opinions!

Neen James explains the subtlety well in Speaker Magazine.  A Subject Matter Expert or SME, she explains, knows something, whereas a thought leader is known for something. Thought leaders know how to present ideas in ways that appeal to a marketplace craving direction and wanting solutions to problems. Those ideas, those opinions, often go against conventional wisdom, James adds.

“I hope I change some minds along the way, and I hope my mind is changed here or there,” Ariel Jackson says in his introductory blog posts. “What if I start my blog, writing strong opinion pieces and then later change my mind about the right way to do things?” is a fear one new blog content writing client expressed.

The way I answer that question is this: People are going to want to do business with someone who has something to say about the way they choose to operate within their world, offering strong recommendations and opinions in their blog.  People are going to LOVE doing business with a real person, someone who’s continuing to think about improving the way they operate and how to incorporate new knowledge and new developments..

Blog content writing is an absolutely wonderful way to express what you think and why you do things the way you do. It’s also the ideal vehicle to ride as you change and develop in your thinking as a business leader.  Go ahead – beg to differ (including with your own earlier ideas!).