Secrets of Using Longtail Keywords to Build Traffic and Make Sales

Guest post by Alex Whalley

Whether you are promoting a personally branded blog, 20 small niche websites, or a potential authority site, without traffic you’re dead in the water.

The thing is (and you hear this all the time) the key to attracting valuable traffic is providing value yourself. And the best medium for delivering lasting value is:


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 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’m going to share the exact 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 ‘longtail’ 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 Long Tail

If we Google the definition of “long tail,” 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

I have used the above screenshot as an example to further reinforce this point. This is one of my Amazon niche sites over the last 2 months. 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?

3 Effective Ways of Getting Longtail Content Ideas for any Niche.

1: The Keyword Labs Question Tool from Wordtracker

This tool (service?) is by far the greatest free tool ever provided for the niche marketer looking for content ideas. What this tool does is basically bring back the relevant questions people are asking in relation to any given keyword. The broader the keyword the better the results.

What this effectively does is not only give you a whole gamut of ideas you can write about in relation your specific topic, it pretty much hands up a list of article titles on a silver platter! Bookmark this tool now and be sure to use it in your content arsenal.

*You are now required to register in order to use the tool, but it is still free

Example: I used the Keyword Tool and typed in ‘Headphones’ and this is what I got:

Results from the wordtracker keyword question tool

As you can see, not only am I now provided with a list of article titles that I can guarantee are relevant and will attract traffic, I also have a whole new line of thinking for longtail topics.

This is all I could fit in the screenshot! There were over 100 results, and that was just with the first keyword!

2: Forums

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?’

3: 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.

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

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 😉

3 Places to Leverage your Quality Content

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.

  • Guest Posting on Blogs
    Search for websites (blogs or static) that have a high Pagerank and are relevant to the topic of your article (which may not necessarily be the exact topic of your niche/product) and ask if they would take a guest article from you.
    *Having quality content on your site already improves your ‘success rate’ considerably.
  • Quality Article Directories
    There are over 100,000 article directories online! Stop wasting time on the ones that have no traffic or rank and focus on those that actually deliver. I personally recommend EzineArticles and GoArticles as the best two ‘mainstream’ directories that you should focus on. Again this comes down to testing as well as personal preference.
  • Web 2.0 Properties
    Like the directories, there are hundreds of these so called web2.0 sites springing up everywhere. Focus on the ones that actually have traffic and rank (and the authrority that comes with it) and use your content to build sites on these pages. Start with these 3: 


    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.

    Think Traffic? Think Content!

    Alex Whalley is the owner and founder of Build.Rank.Profit a resource for anyone looking to build a fulltime income with niche sites and affiliate marketing. He is also the Principle SEO Consultant at BuRP! Consulting, a Local Sydney SEO Company offering link building packages and more.

    Useful & Relevant Resources

    “One of the most effective ways to find great content ideas is to study the most popular content from your favorite sites.”

    Share you Best Content and Learn How Corbett creates his.

    And I will leave you with…

    “Focus 80% of effort on creating content. Content is king. That’s all I got. Nothing I can say here will help you. Write passionately. Make creating a priority. There, I tried. This part is up to you.”

    Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt. (from the post How NOT to Suck at Blogging)

47 thoughts on “Secrets of Using Longtail Keywords to Build Traffic and Make Sales”

  1. Alex,
    Although the topic of keyword research has been beaten to death, you still do an excellent job of providing useful information. Thanks for the tip about WordTracker, I hadn’t used it before and it really is quite helpful.

    1. Hey Steve, tell me about it mate!
      This post was a result of a lot of the questions my readers have been asking about the longtail side of the equation and I hope this helps dispel a few myths.
      That wordtracker tool is a life saver sometimes – especially when Im stumped as to what to write about!

      Thanks for your comment Steve

  2. Hey Alex

    Great article – and what’s even better, I’d promised to write a ‘long tail traffic’ article for one of my mastermind buddies. Now i can just send her an email with the link to this article!

    Question for ya….when you’re leveraging your quality content do you ever do the multimedia route? You know, podcasts, videos, etc etc. Or do you find articles sufficient to get the traffic you both want and need?

    Rock on man, loved it.


    1. Hey Alex,

      I’m Paul’s buddy and I got the link. :)

      Great article! I run a niche Real Estate site and I’ve found that people find the site more by a random Google-search than by anything else I’ve tried. Now I know that those random finds are due to “long-tail keywords”.

      Best of all, now you’ve de-mystified the process and I can have a more intelligent approach to driving traffic to my sites.


    2. So glad you came by and I really appreciate your comment as this is the very reason I wrote the post. Glad to have cleared up some of the confusion. The good thing about this process is that not only do you get more traffic from the longtail keywords associated with real estate, you also start to rank better for the main keywords around your industry as you get more relevant content indexed across more sites.

      Thanks again for your comment Marina, and thanks Paul for the link love.

    3. aha brilliant! That happened to me last week with a post on GA that a fellow blogger wrote – I was like “sweet, thank YOU” LOL
      Glad to have saved you some time my friend :)

      Good question! You know if I had read this last week I would have said that I simply stick with text based leveraging of my content as this has been more than effective for me – but in the last week I have been going through Steve Scott’s No BS Course and the way he talks about podcasting and Video Marketing has made me reassess what I am doing with my content.

      So to answer you now – Yes I would seriously consider turning your content into a podcast series and/or a video series so that you can leverage it on so many more platforms and reach an entirely new audience that your written content would NEVER reach.

      Thanks for the share mate – I see your link has already reached its recipient :)

    4. Yeah, don’t let that photo deceive you, that Marina can be like a bear with a sore head when she gets her teeth into an idea! :) (just kidding Marina!)

      Will you be podcasting/videoing for your niche sites, or for your main AW site? (And will you be posting any results?)


      PS – I use video in my main sites with sensational results…hit me up with an email if you want some tips and tricks to get eyeballs on your videos (ethically!).

  3. Alex my man. What can I say?

    This is really useful to me. As it’s something I was wondering about when setting up a niche site. There’s only so much you can write about a XYZ product, but you’ve explained that beautifully (and at the same time potentially growing the niche opportunity).

    Thanks again, and the Keyword Questions tool.

    Cheers, Matthew

    1. Hey Matthew,

      Glad to have helped clear some of the confusion around the content side of things – especially with physical products LOL. I hear you on that front! haha – If I have to write about cordless drills again….

      Good to see you here mate, I appreciate the support and the comment – now go enjoy that Wordtracker Labs tool

  4. Alex, for any person looking to build up their content and take advantage of that low-hanging fruit that is the long tail, this was exceptional. On a personal level, long tail keywords alone have made my swimming pool company millions in sales. And what’s crazy is that most industries still haven’t come close to saturating the long-tail content.

    With my blogging, I’ve used your 2nd and 3rd methods to come up with long tail phrases often, but I hadn’t used the keyword tool you’ve mentioned here, which is freaking awesome, and was bookmarked about 2.47 seconds after I came across it, so thanks a million for that. :-)

    Great stuff bud and well done Corbett too for producing the value you always seem to do for your readers.


    1. “Long tail keywords alone have made my swimming pool company millions in sales.”

      Thank you for confirming to the readers the importance of the longtail Marcus.
      on a personal note – WOW.
      You are in a great position with your blogging that you have such a social impact that the links you get from that side of thngs alone would more than make up for not using longtail. Of course the fact that you do means you are simply going to rank quicker for each phrase you go after than the rest of us.
      I’d call you a cheetah at this point but well,…..

  5. I’d be curious to learn what you thought about link wheels and utilizing web 2.0 properties to create “layers” of backlinks to your posts. Pat Flynn had a great post recently on this but there seems to be a lot of debate out there. Thoughts?

  6. Alex,

    All good points. I have to add that networking with others within your niche is probably the most underused link tactic around….yet it is so effective.

    1. Definitely agree that networking with others is a powerful linking method, in fact it is the reason I mention guest posting as one of those methods of getting your content out there. Can’t guest post without networking first 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Leo

  7. Hi Alex,

    Great tip on WordTracker. I have not used that before, so will definitely check that out. Helpful advice on your post on how to use the most effective methods to drive traffic to your site.

    1. Cheers Cathy,
      Enjoy the wordtracker tool – it is definitely fun to play with at the very least :)

  8. Great article Alex but I have to take issue with you suggestion of using Hubpages, they have been slapped silly by Google Panda and won’t be recovering any time soon – look how long it took Squidoo to get any rankings after they were slapped a few years ago. To a certain extent, this also applies to EzineArticles but testing shows, and instinct suggests, that they are recovering quicker than Hubpages.

    1. This is true Ben, but I still think that if you provide quality content and it is linked too enough, then a Hubpage actually becomes quite powerful – Google Panda Slap or not…

      I do see where you are coming from, and have to admit that my Hubpages do not perform as well as the same article on Ezine for instance.

  9. Nice one, Alex, great article. I particularly like the method of spinning articles by breaking into sentences and then re-writing the sentences and color-coding them. It might not look very pretty when you’ve finished but effective. I’ll try that one!

    1. Hey Rob,

      I actually found a really useful tool to help make this process even easier – I’ll send you an email about it later today 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and supporting my guest post here at ThinkTraffic Rob.

    2. What you mean it doesn’t look pretty? Think of all those pretty colours! LOL
      Definitely a winning formula, thanks for your comment Rob

  10. Long tail keywords are important, especially with driven traffic, but I think if you concentrate on writing good content with well worded sentences, they usually take care of themselves.

    1. Could not have said it better myself Daniel.

      Oh and congrats on the new bub – she/he looks very very new indeed.

  11. nice post. this is a very interesting topic. i own a dozen plus niche websites which are all highly effective in terms of both traffic and profits. i recently analyzed my most popular (traffic wise) website and noted that over 75% of my traffic was coming from longer tail keywords, most of which i did not intend to target to begin with. the top 10-15 deliberately targeted keywords bring in the remaining 25%. very interesting analysis

  12. Alex,

    You’re getting me excited about niche sites again. I started doing some research a couple of weeks ago and gave up because it was hard to find the right niche with the right keywords. With the knowledge you have given me here I have the interest back. Thanks.

    But this is not only great for niche sites but authority blogs also. I found that if I write naturally, which usually contains long tailed keywords, I get more Google traffic. Like Sunil above they are unexpected but they work.

    Thank you for the Wordtracker Keyword tool.


    1. “You’re getting me excited about niche sites again. ”

      Now THATS What I’m talking about! :)

      Enjoy the wordtracker tool Allie, and definitley keep doing what you are doing. Its going to work even better since the Kung Fu Panda :)

  13. And here I go again, Alex – friendly disagreement on the power of article marketing.

    Of course, I understand that you are talking about niche sites; ranking for those is a whole lot easier than ranking for “make money blogging” and a few links from some Web 2.0 properties just might do the trick…

    Just thinking aloud…

    When Panda update clearly sent a message to many sites that their content quality as sub par, to say the least, it’s only logical to conclude that the links coming from those sites are also sub par. It only makes sense, right?

    Let me know what you think.

    1. Ding Ding Ding… Round 4….

      This is going to be the worst fight in history because, well I agree with you. Ranking a niche site is a lot easier, provided you have done your keyword research right – but I also think that the Panda Kung Fu’d the goodness out of most links associated with sub par content.
      It is for this reason that I have stopped using UAW and am now focusing on quality content distributed to relvant authority sites (like I should have been doing all along)

      Well? Worst fight ever or what? 😉

    2. I think the “power of article marketing” is what you make of it.

      Sure, the links may not be as valuable as they are from a well respected blog (or directory, site, w/e), but that doesn’t mean the link isn’t powerful. The link still has the power to drive traffic doesn’t it? And if the links you’re trying to get don’t, you probably should reconsider your linking strategy anyway (IMO).

      While I don’t do much in the way of article marketing (at least on directories or 2.0 sites), I still think they’re worthwhile as long as you’re doing to diversify where your traffic comes from, instead of focusing on how it affects where your blog/site may or may not land in the SERPs.

    1. “Wow, epic content!”

      Would Corbett have accepted it if it wasn’t? 😉

      Seriously though Eunice, I appreciate the feedback and I am glad you got something from the article.

  14. Thanks for the great step-by-step tutorial on properly using longtail keywords. I’ve signed up for Wordtrackers “free” keywords tool but haven’t been very impressed with the results. Maybe it was the keyword I searched “Facebook Marketing” but Google Adwords Keyword Tool provides many more results. Also, it seems to limit me to 20 searches. Not sure if that’s total or for some time period.

    I definitely want to try out the paid version, since it looks like it could be a great tool. But for now with my budget, I’m going to stick with Google’s free tool…

  15. Wow Alex, this was a great little post. It finally cleared up the last of my misconceptions about long-tail KWs. And the link to the KW question tool was like the cherry on the cake.

    Would you believe I was wasting A LOT of time trying to manually type in questions that I thought of in Google’s KW tool? You deserve a Starbucks latte just for that little tip alone.

  16. Alex,

    Great in-depth article!

    Your post is useful for not only niche site builders but anyone wanting to create digital products. I mean, resources like WordTracker and forums… I had completely forgot that they exist :) There is so much information people are asking for and these tools are telling you what people want.

    Thanks for the reminder.


  17. Wow, just wanted to say thanks for a really informative read. It’s reading stuff like this that can inspire anyone who just wants to make a blog or a site about what they’re interested in, and realize that they can actually do it. Good stuff!!

  18. Alex, Thank you for the post. One question though..on you Amazon site – did you use the Amazon platform for your store, are you a third party seller or how do you mean “Amazon.”

    Reason I ask is that not all content is crawled on Amazon…so they say. I presently am a third party seller.

    Thank you for your input!

  19. Like your article a lot..more and more i starting to understand that the people buying at my sites are people who looked for longtail keywords. At this moment i am looking up as much information i can about this subject to let some of my employees read it in the hope they get a better understanding in this to.

  20. Thank you! Informative and practical. I have an account at wordtracker but this is the first time I actually use it after reading this post! I am planning to write a post about twitter, and using the keyword question suggestions on wordtracker is very helpful, after that I use Google Adwords keyword tool to examine more data which includes global and monthly searches, CPC and type of competition as well! I am a member of Warrior forum so I will use it too!

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