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How to persuade client of value of long tail SEO

9:01 pm on Jan 25, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi all

I have a client that produces an enormous amount of news-ish content and they have good domain authority. But they have come to believe that stories only last a few days and then they're not worth the effort. They've lost loads of old stories and fail to link to or create networks of themes of older stories.

I've been able to show them that they still get a lot of long tail SEO despite terrible neglect to which they respond "hey wow bonus! But it's 2017 so SEO means optimising your headlines so you rank well in the first week".

How do I persuade them of the value of long tail? Are there any stats or case studies out there about news and its ability to serve long tail traffic ongoing? If I could show them a competitor, that may motivate them.

I understand SEMRush only shows the torso, not really the tail?
4:52 am on Jan 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Long tail searches are almost by definition impossible to track. The long tail means that for any single search term you will only ever get a few searches. Most of these will fall through the cracks, be it in Search Console, Google Analytics or any third party tools.

The only way to capitalize on the long tail is to target large groups of related long tail terms. The traffic resulting from any one single specific term will never make you money but the sum of all the little trickles of traffic can. That does not mean to create a massive amount of page, one for each term variation. How you go about it will depend largely on the niche and your creativity.

But this doesn't appear to be your problem as the content already exists, the key would be to determine how to use the content to your advantage.

The one way you can try to see if there is any value is to take the keywords report in search console and see how diverse the report is. The only problem is that the report has maximum of 1000 keywords. If the vast majority of the keywords are similar in nature and each term attracts many searches, then the tail may not be so long or fat. Whereas if you have few terms with many searches and many terms with few searches then there may be value in the tail. Remember that only about 10% of all the traffic is represented by that report. The assumption is that that sample is representative of the population (ie all your traffic).

All my traffic comes from long tail searches.
7:55 am on Jan 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Nick though the problem is not tracking long tail - we have logs. Or how to target long tail. It's how to persuade the client to provide the resources to present older articles better to Google. They don't understand the potential traffic increase from it.
11:16 am on Jan 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Can you provide a limited proof of concept?

If you don't have a case study to refer them to where you've already done this for someone else, then:
- take one or two fairly small topics where you are (a) sure that there is demand and (b) they are within reach of more traffic;
- take traffic / rankings snapshots;
- create the hub page / interlink the posts / do what you want to create more relevancy and inter-connectivity;
- wait for the changes to be picked up.
9:16 pm on Feb 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Possibly but the organisation doesn't have much patience for long term tests. It would be much easier if I could show some other site's long tail SEO success.
12:52 am on Feb 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You are unlikely to be able to share another's results, proprietary information is by it's very nature held close.

Actually, you (and most clients, having been 'taught' by SEOs) are chasing the keyword(s) of a decade ago. Since 2010 Google and many SEs have switched to named entities, which has changed how one competes for long tail. Now one simply provides sufficiently dense, long(er) form content that by it's nature, given proper copywriting, naturally covers a greater number of queries than seen by copy written around a few select keywords.

Fortunately, this is relatively simple to test. Look at the site's analytics and select several pages of second and several pages of pages of third tier (by traffic/conversion volume) value and upgrade them into longer more complete coverage of their specific subject; make them the very best pages on their subject within the niche, replace stock images with carefully thought custom photos, graphs, video.
Note: I do NOT mean the stuff churned out via Fiverr and similar. I mean if the content looks like a typical blog post change it into a New Yorker article. Not that all content needs to be like this but when testing aim for the bleachers.

Long tail is much less about a zillion short pages each targeting a subset of keywords but of longer denser (properly designed marketing/selling) pages covering a subject subset exhaustively. And the long tail is naturally covered.

Before uploading the new copy benchmark the existing and cost the new. Replace and track results. If the pages acquire (after googlebot checks them a couple of times) improved traffic/conversions you have information necessary.

If there is already a number of short pages covering a single set of/variation on an entity, another easy test is to condense a number of short pages into one longer one.
Critical: simultaneous appropriate use of 301s to retain backlinks.

Simply chasing/cloning target keyword subject pages is fast fading in effectiveness. Not gone but in regard to long tail highly inefficient. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of entities and named entities simple searches and a few days research should bring you up to speed.
6:15 pm on Feb 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The value in content as It ages is useful in many ways. Research, confirmation of earlier news, links to the article, and more.

I worked for a large news publishing group and their old content generated thousands of hits a day some years old.
7:02 pm on Feb 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Long tail is going away as google learns to canonicalize search terms. They already do it... they serve you canonical search results of a term they identify as synonymous if you search for something no one has searched before. They do it to save processing resources and it seems to work.