A key to any business is being discovered. Most businesses don’t have massive budgets for brand-building advertising campaigns, so increasingly businesses rely on paid search as the red carpet to their physical or digital front doors.
Being found by search engines can be as tricky as giving directions to your brick-and-mortar store. Businesses don’t automatically show up on the first page of a Google search, even when they dominate their market. Being on the first page of a search usually requires paying to get there.
In relative terms for advertising, paid search is inexpensive. With search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, you push keywords, promote content and pay for clicks. How much you pay is less important in many respects than the quality of potential customers who find you. That has led to keyword search strategies with interesting names such as long-tail search and fat-head search.
WordStream, an online advertising firm, demonstrates the value of long-tail search with this example: A classic furniture store is unlikely to be the intended destination for someone who types in “furniture.” It is more likely to be the target for someone looking for “contemporary Art Deco furniture.” That’s the basic concept behind long-tail search – focusing on longer, more specific keywords that give your business a greater chance to be on the top of a search.
Think of a long-tail keyword as a way to shorten the path of a customer to your window or website.
“Obviously, you’re going to draw less traffic with a long-tail keyword than you would with a more common one, but the traffic you do draw will be better: more focused, more committed and more desirous of your services,” explains Wordstream.
In addition, there is less competition for longer keywords, so they wind up costing less, even if they have a higher click-through rate. Wordstream says, “With shorter keywords, competition for rankings can be fierce, but visits can be scattershot and ROI can be low.”
Another strategy is fat-head search. The thinking behind this strategy is to sharpen your positioning so you are the singular answer to search questions related to your business. “Move beyond long tail search,” advises Brian Halligan of Hubspot. “Get good at fat head search. Be the answer to the question.”
Halligan’s example is that it is better to go beyond “shoes” or even “Nike running shoes” to “Nike size 8 running shoes in [fill in your location.]” You certainly will get less traffic, but Halligan says the visitors you get are less random and looking for something specific. This level of specificity plays well with the growing trend of voice search, which is more compatible with longer keywords.
The real secret behind fat-head keywords, Halligan insists, is moving past what a business sells to what customer question the business answers. “Alarmingly, many of the businesses we encounter still struggle to define exactly what they sell and to whom they sell it,” Halligan says.” It’s a problem that isn’t going to go away. in fact, it’s likely to intensify.” The more precise your positioning, the “fatter” your search keywords can be.
While basic marketing concepts remain in force, how you exploit your positioning has branched into new realms that may require professional assistance. Don’t be surprised if the expert who shows up to guide into the brave new world of online search success looks a lot like your granddaughter. You could do a lot worse than asking your granddaughter for help.