The red herring: Dont get distracted by high volume keywords with low conversion potential





Blog Date

May 27, 2024


UK, Manchester

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The red herring: Dont get distracted by high volume keywords with low conversion potential

Introduction: Chasing the wrong prey

I’ll never forget the first time I stumbled upon the concept of long-tail keywords. It was like a light bulb had gone off in my head – a eureka moment that would forever change the way I approached SEO.

You see, for the longest time, I had been obsessed with targeting those big, juicy, high-volume keywords. The ones that everyone and their mother was fighting over. I thought, “if I could just rank for those, the traffic and leads would come pouring in!”

Boy, was I wrong.

After diving deeper into the research and crunching the numbers, I realized that those high-volume keywords were actually a red herring – a distraction from the real opportunity lying in the long-tail.

In this article, I’m going to share my journey of discovering the power of long-tail keywords, and why you should be shifting your focus away from vanity metrics and toward the low-hanging fruit that can truly move the needle for your business.

The lure of high-volume keywords

It’s easy to get seduced by those alluring high-volume keywords. After all, who doesn’t want to rank for something like “best digital marketing agency” or “SEO services near me”? The promise of tons of organic traffic is enough to make any marketer’s heart race.

As Avinash Kaushik points out, Google’s Keyword Planner tool has “trained us to think in terms of high volume keywords.” We become obsessed with the search volume, always chasing the biggest numbers.

But here’s the thing – high search volume doesn’t always translate to high conversion potential. Just because lots of people are searching for a particular keyword, doesn’t mean they’re actually ready to become customers.

Think about it this way – if someone is searching for “best digital marketing agency,” they’re likely still in the research and awareness stage. They’re not necessarily ready to pick up the phone and hire an agency right then and there.

On the other hand, someone searching for “SEO agency Manchester” is a lot closer to being ready to convert. They’ve already narrowed down their location and are specifically looking for an agency to work with.

The power of long-tail keywords

This is where long-tail keywords come into play. These are the more specific, low-volume search queries that may not have the same kind of headline-grabbing numbers, but often have a much higher intent and conversion rate.

As Ionut Ciobotaru points out, the true value of long-tail keywords lies in their ability to “compress the distance between a product and its audience.” These searchers are further along in the buyer’s journey and are more likely to take action.

Let’s go back to our earlier examples. While “best digital marketing agency” might have 10,000 monthly searches, the conversion rate is likely pretty low. But “SEO agency Manchester” with 500 monthly searches? That’s a much hotter lead, and one that’s a lot more likely to turn into a paying customer.

The key is to shift your mindset from chasing vanity metrics to focusing on quality over quantity. It’s better to rank for 10 highly-targeted, high-intent keywords than to rank for 100 broad, low-intent ones.

Putting it into practice

So, how do you actually go about identifying and targeting long-tail keywords? Here are a few tips:

  1. Utilize search query data: Take a deep dive into your website’s search query data (either from Google Search Console or another analytics tool). Look for the specific, long-tail queries that are already driving traffic and conversions.

  2. Leverage semantic search: Think about how your potential customers are actually phrasing their queries. What questions are they asking? What specific pain points are they trying to solve? Optimize your content to answer those queries.

  3. Embrace the power of location: As we saw in the “SEO agency Manchester” example, location-based keywords can be pure gold. Identify the specific cities, neighborhoods, or regions that are most relevant to your business.

  4. Don’t forget the “how-to” searches: People love to search for instructional content. Identify the common “how-to” queries in your industry and create helpful, educational content around them.

  5. Monitor the competition: Analyze what your competitors are ranking for, both in terms of high-volume and long-tail keywords. Look for opportunities to outrank them on the more specific, intent-driven queries.

By implementing these strategies and shifting your focus to long-tail keywords, you’ll start to see a dramatic improvement in your website’s conversion rates and overall marketing ROI.

Conclusion: The bigger picture

At the end of the day, the pursuit of high-volume keywords is a bit like chasing a red herring – it might look enticing on the surface, but it’s ultimately a distraction from the real opportunity.

By honing in on long-tail keywords, you’re not just optimizing for search engines – you’re optimizing for your actual customers. You’re creating content and experiences that are directly aligned with their specific needs and pain points.

And that, my friends, is the key to sustainable, scalable growth for your business. So, the next time you’re tempted to chase those vanity metrics, remember the wise words of Mr. Money Mustache: “If you build it, they will come.” Focus on the quality, not the quantity, and the leads will follow.

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