When you’re first getting into the world of SEO, it can be overwhelming. Making matters worse is that you may not understand all the forces at work. We’re here to make things easier for you.

In the SEO industry, there are two types of keywords: broad and long tail. Broad keywords are short, general to a business, have high search volumes, and lots of competition. As a small business owner, you’re probably thinking: “How do I rank for those above my competition?”

You don’t because you’re fighting an uphill battle up an extremely steep hill and it’s not even the battle you want to be fighting. For example, a small local chain of pizza restaurants won’t rank nationally for the word “pizza” because on that level you’re competing with Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s and sites with recipes for those who want to make pizza at home. It also wouldn’t do a local chain any good because someone searching for “pizza” in Hawaii isn’t looking for a restaurant that is only in New Jersey.  If you can rank for these keywords, more power to you, but those visitors are not likely to become viable leads. This is where long-tail keywords come into the picture.

Long-tail keywords are specific to your business, have a low search volume, and little competition. At first glance, you’re wondering, “Why do I want to rank for something no one is searching for?” That’s a valid question. The reality is that people are searching for these keywords. It’s just fewer people are looking for these more specific phrases. An additional benefit of long-tail keywords is that they are more likely to become leads. Instead of trying to rank nationally for “pizza,” the local pizza chain in New Jersey would be better off trying to rank for “pizza in Brick” or even the more difficult “best pizza in Central Jersey.”

Now that you know the difference between broad and long-tail keywords, it’s time to assess what you’re actually trying to rank for. Is your site purely informational or ships packages around the world and can compete with larger sites because your business isn’t location specific? Or do you have one family owned restaurant in Toms River and want to educate locals about your business and what you serve? Once you understand your goals and set realistic ones, you will see results.