Keywords have a demand curve, like any other good. If you imagine it starting right at the top left side of the chart, there is a huge number of searches for a single overall keyword. As you get more and more specific, the number of searches falls off – but so does the amount of competition for that specific keyword (or, if you’re advertising, the amount you’ll pay for it).
Let’s take an example: “dress”. There will be millions of searches for “dress”. What’s the chance you’ll be at the top? Zero. You can’t afford it.
“Black dress”. Not quite so many searches, but still a lot. And this is a keyword where big sellers are going to dominate, and the keyword’s really expensive if you want to advertise.
“Little black dress”. Fewer searches, more specific.
“Little black dress Azzedine Alaia.” Then “Little black dress Azzedine Alaia size 12.” Now you’ve got a very specific keyword. Anyone who wants Chanel, Givenchy, Saint Laurent… you’ve excluded them. And you’ve excluded the customers who want another size.
Or you might go “Little black dress curvy tall” and you know your larger size customer base will find you. Plus, you’ll not be attracting a load of petite size zero customers who take one look at your product and say “meh”.
Whether you pay for your keywords through advertising or whether you simply use them in your SEO, the long tail keywords are more effective.
Of course, you could go too niche. “Little black dress Azzedine Alaia size 12 with a coffee stain on the front and a small tear in one armhole” is more information than anyone wants to know.
If you’re selling a niche product, you’ll find that there’s a spot on the demand curve that really works for you. For instance all kinds of collectibles, Dungeons and Dragons figurines, classic comic reprints, they’re all the kind of thing where being that bit more specific is going to drive better returns and more conversions. The same goes for special interest areas – ship modelers, quilt makers, bass guitar players, are all going to be looking for specifics.
Finding that spot on the demand curve is difficult. For instance, if you were selling ship models, “Nelson Victory Trafalgar scale model” might be just about right. Or it might still be a bit too generic, because modelers want a particular size or scale or manufacturer’s brand.
You may have to use quite a lot of trial and error to optimize your keywords. But if you get it right, you have keywords that have a limited amount of competition, and that are really likely to convert into sales.
Even if you are selling a product that is fairly generic, you may find that there is a particular customer segment you can target using the right search terms. So selling paint, for instance, “Acrylic paint set for wooden ship models and historic ships” is going to pull in particular customers, whereas “Acrylic paint set 12 colors” is competing with a lot more sellers.
You may be able to target a number of sectors for the same product. If you do that, make sure the product page refers to the different uses or features even if they’re not in the title. They could easily go in the feature list, for instance.
Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas about keywords that you can put into practice, and improve your rankings and conversion rates!