In case anyone out there is looking for someone to market their new line of “zebra-striped man thong” underwear, please contact me immediately since I now have experience ranking for this horrific item. However, if you need me to market the plural of the aforementioned item, that’s extra.
SEO Chicks currently ranks 1 and 2 in Google for this phrase after a short post on negative keywords (and a comment from evilgreenmonkey.) This post was just written a few days ago…pretty fast results. I am also very, very pleased to report that there were only 314 results returned in Google (with 543 for the plural since of course you wouldn’t just want the ONE zebra-striped man thong would you? That would be stupid.)
Zebra-striped man thong (how many times can I type that without gagging? OK three) is what we call a long-tailed keyword (and no that is not a Freudian pun you sicksters.) A long-tailed keyword is a 3+ keyword phrase that’s pretty specific and usually really good at getting the most out of a PPC campaign since odds are if someone’s typing it in, he or she is in the mood to convert. Spending tons of time optimizing a site for a long list of long-tailed keywords is extremely time-consuming and may not be worth it, but you can slap all those phrases into your paid ads and quickly ascertain whether or not they’re worth anything.
You can probably rank well for long-tailed keywords in the organic listings, so if you do happen to want to sell a lot of (pardon me while I find a new phrase that won’t make me sit in the corner, swatting at imaginary flies for another hour) “XXL t-shirts with cool bits of BASIC code on them, in mint green” you should definitely do some optimization with this particular phrase in mind. Ranking for “shirts” is going to be quite difficult most likely, and you have to consider the fact that people typing in “shirts” are usually not looking for “XXL t-shirts with cool bits of BASIC code on them, in mint green” (because they’re probably wanting one in a buttery yellow.)
Another great thing about long-tailed keywords is that you don’t always have to specifically optimize for them. As I mentioned, our SEO Chicks post ranked from that ugly phrase being used two times in the post and once in a comment about the post. Plus I cloaked the ever-living heck out of it. OK no I didn’t. Anyway, my goal, if you can believe it, was not actually to rank for that phrase, but I got spots 1 and 2 in Google within 3 days. It’s worthless because we don’t sell that item (we only sell those in leopard-print right now, because that’s a good bit classier.)
You’re probably getting traffic from long-tailed keywords anyway, even if you aren’t paying enough attention to notice it. If you’re concentrating on a major phrase and watching your keyword density (and speaking of keyword density, I found a fine quick piece about it, that happens to also mention long-tailed keywords, at SEOSlap so check that out) you may be very surprised when you review your logs and see the phrases from which you’ve accidentally benefitted.