In discussions about Search Engine ranking signals the phrase “content is king” tends to get flogged about as badly as my hopes for a St. Kilda Grand Final win around four rounds into the AFL season. While well-flogged, content as a ranking factor is certainly up there as a King, or at least some kind of Duke or Landed Gentry. Backlinks and metadata aside, without good, original content, your site is unlikely to ever appear on relevant keyword indexes.
When it comes to finding content opportunities, we recommend targeting the “long-tail.” The vast majority of all search traffic comes through from lower-volume, high-intent ‘long tail’ search terms. This research traffic or “Long Tail” typically accounts for 70% – 80% of total search demand and typically represents higher intent users queries than much broader, higher volume searches. Keyword indexes tend to be congested with high authority sites occupying high ranking positions on head terms, so if you’re a site without the authority to compete, targeting these longer tail queries is going to give you a chance to rank on these terms.
Instead of ranking below page 1 and generating zero clicks on a term like “things to do in Canberra”, it would be better to rank on Page 1 and generate clicks on a longer tail term such as “things for kids to do in Canberra“ where competitor sites don’t have matched content. Coupled with a content driven strategy to own position zero featured snippets, targeting long tail queries is a sure fire way to get meaningful content in front of your target audience and drive relevant, scalable, engagement.
We can see that top ranking sites are only partially matched on “things for kids to do in canberra”
Where to start?
Finding what users are searching for doesn’t need to be as arduous as going into the keyword planner in Google Ads. There are a number of different tools you can use to get a themed keyword ideas from Answer The Public or Uber suggest (if you can deal with the sales pitch on entering). Something as simple as typing a query into Google will give you a number of suggested searches that you can then investigate. Clicking on some of these will give you more suggested searches to review. It’s not perfect, but it’ll give you a good jumping off point.
Additional ‘People Also Ask’ queries from “what to do at night in Melbourne”
The featured snippet
Targeting these long-tailed query based searches is going to give us the ability to appear in featured snippet. We want to target user questions showcased in snippets box which is known as position zero on page one. This is what is called position zero:
These types of results can dominate specific keyword indexes providing maximum brand exposure above the fold. These search positions are typically associated with a higher click-through rate than the #1 organic position and can drive more traffic to your site. To appear in these positions, we need to ensure that we’re answering this providing both the question and answer on the page in a way that is structured logically in the body text.
A strategy I typically use to target these featured snippets is:
- Compile a list of keywords in your niche that show snippets you don’t rank in the top 20 for.
- Start with content that reaches people in the top of the funnel, like comparisons (e.g. “volkswagen golf vs skoda octavia”). The volume is lower, but the click-through is likely to be high.
- Identify snippets that are appearing on pieces of content that are poorly optimised for particular search queries.
- Create new content optimised for the format Google uses to display the snippet:
- Keyword optimised URL and title tag
- Separate content under header tags if it makes sense
- Utilise dot points for how-to / DIY guides.
Writing original content that targets specific user queries is not only going to help you rank in areas where you might otherwise not be able to, but it’ll give you the best possible ability to appear in these featured snippet positions. Content is king, so if you don’t, there’s nothing stopping the Queen of England from building some trebuchets and occupying your land. The Queen is your competitors… or something like that.