B2B searchers growing a longer tail

As the vast amount of information on the Web expands at an exponential rate, the quality of Web search results is declining. To overcome this problem, B2B searchers are using longer keyword strings to generate more accurate results. This trend will offer marketers both challenges and opportunities for their existing search engine optimization strategies.

The bias towards “long-tail” keyword phrases has been evident in our clients’ Web site analytic reports over the last 12 months. Several years ago, most search referrals consisted of one or two keywords. But today, we’re seeing visitors frequently using three, four, or five keywords in their searches. On our own site, we consistently see these long-tail phrases being used. They include “return on ideas,” “inbound vs. outbound marketing,” “public relations boston,” and “Internet marketing firms in MA.”
A 2009 Hitwise study confirms our experience. During a 1-month period, over 56% of the searches included three or more keywords and 20% had at least five keywords.

For B2B marketers that have optimized their Web sites for one- and two-word search phrases, a reevaluation is in order.

  • Study your Web analytics reports to determine what keywords visitors are using. Consider additional optimization for the long-tail phrases that have significant activity and are relevant to your business.
  • Use the Google Keyword Assessment Tool to find the multi-word phrases that are derived from the important keywords on your site. The tool will recommend these phrases and will quantify the numbers of searches they generate.
  • Once you have identified these longer keyword phrases, make sure they are included in your site optimization scheme and content.

Embracing the new long-tail search keywords will provide a boost to your inbound marketing effort. You will attract new visitors that are more focused on your products and services. In addition, your competitors probably are not optimizing for these phrases, offering an important marketing advantage.