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Optimizing Articles for Long-tail Keywords

April 30, 2008
Dear Jill,

I have two questions:

1. Regarding long-tail keywords, I often find it difficult optimizing them in an article, mainly because it can look unnatural if you include them too often. How do you recommend I deal with this problem? Apart from in the headline, at what density do they need to be mentioned in an article in order to maximize our chances of getting good listings?

2. When it comes to using other people's articles for content I notice they are mostly optimized for main keywords, e.g., biodiesel, yet there are many other alternative keywords for the biodiesel niche that need articles written about. Considering you can't change other people's articles, can you write your own headline and introduction (preceding the other person's article headline and text) and include the long-tail keyword that you wish to optimize in there? If that is OK would mentioning the long-tail keyword 3 or 4 times be sufficient?

Thank you,


++Jill's Response++

Hi Allison,

Good questions – however, you may be over-thinking things a bit. Long-tail keywords, by their very nature, are not competitive. In other words, there are not a lot of other pages out there that are using those phrases – which means it's relatively easy to get a good rank for them in Google without a whole lot of work.

So to answer question number 1, you don't really have to optimize for them at all – at least not in the true sense of the word. Simply keep the long-tail keywords in mind as you're writing your article, and make sure they're used somewhere within it. Most likely, even just one use somewhere within the article will be enough to rank well for the long-tail phrase. Of course, this doesn't mean you're going to get much traffic. The other trait of long-tail keywords (besides being uncompetitive) is that they get searched on only once in awhile. It may be just one search a week, or even one a month or one a year!

Personally, I don't think that optimizing for the long-tail is actually optimizing at all; it's simply writing naturally while keeping the phrases in mind. But for articles or blog posts, that's the best way to go so you don't ruin the flow of your writing.

There's no need to use long-tail keywords 3 or 4 (or more) times in your articles. It's better to use lots of different long-tail phrases just one time each. You will do this naturally, even without doing any keyword research, which is the beauty of articles and blog posts!

In answer to question number 2, sure, you could certainly write an intro to the other person's article that you were going to publish on your site. Using your long-tail keywords within it could certainly help it to show up for those phrases – but again, don't expect a huge influx of traffic from long-tail words. Plus, due to the fact that your content is presumably going to be published on other websites, your version may or may not show up in the search results for relevant searches due to Google's duplicate content filters.

Hope this helps!


Post Comment

 John Mitchell said:
I am not sure how the article in (2) would be affected by copyright, if you are reproducing the article in it entirity with just a new headline and introduction I would suspect a breach of the copyright laws.

Apart from that, as Jill says, you would probably get caught by the duplicate content filters.
 Jill said:
Hi John,

I was assuming she was reprinting with permission.
 John Mitchell said:
Hi Jill,

She may be but didn't say that - sorry but I've just found over 70 copies of my design terms and conditions - about 90% of them word for word apart from the company name - on the web. This is especially galling as I paid for the wording from a local solicitor about 7 years ago. I guess I'm just a bit sensitive about copyright at the moment.

Good answer about the long-tail words by the way.