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Google Suggest and Long Tail SEO


Is Long Tail Dead? Moore-Wilson takes a look at Google Suggest and Long Tail SEO.


The Google suggest function is now live on and has been live on since last autumn. The Google suggest tool automatically offers you search ideas based on the query string that is typed into the search box. It provides popular search queries in real time.  So if you start to type in Italian R, then Google offers you the list below.


The big question is the effect that the suggest tool will have on SEO and the practice of optimising for long tail keywords. A long tail search tends to be three terms or longer and often includes a geographical location. These long tail searches are useful for bringing targeted traffic to a website. The longer a search query the closer the searcher is to making a purchasing decision. Will the suggestions provided by Google drastically reduce long tail traffic?


Location, Location, Location


The first issue to look at here is one of location. If your business is tied to a geographical location then you should already be using your location in your SEO strategy. If you own an Italian Restaurant in Glasgow or Manchester then it may be more difficult for you to SEO for these terms as more websites will begin to chase these terms in the organic search results. If, however, you own an Italian Restaurant in Bath or Bristol then the process would remind the same.


For those whose location appears in Google Suggest then I believe becoming more niche is the solution. The addition of a more local area as a keyword in your SEO development will result in more targeted traffic. There will be fewer sites optimised for Italian Restaurant Hulme than for Italian Restaurant Manchester. You may lose out on a percentage of general searches that may well have been looking for places in the wrong area of Manchester, but gain more visits from those looking for a service in your location. You shouldn’t ignore the phrases in Google suggest (include them in your title tag, meta tags and page content) but don’t get hung up on them. It is possible to SEO for both the larger geographic area or city and the more local location. The title tag could include “Italian Restaurant Hulme Manchester” and it covers both bases.


Don’t Get Blinded By Suggest


You also need to make sure that the terms in Google Suggest match the content and services on offer on your website. Don’t get blinded by the terms suggested. If the start of your long-term search query suggests a series of terms that you currently do not SEO for you should not panic.


If you run a make-up school then the results as you type in makeup are displayed below.


These searches may be the most popular in Google but they don’t match the services you offer. If you spend time and money on gaining good rankings for these terms then it will be money down the drain. It will only result in a high bounce rate with little ROI. You need to be bringing searchers to your site looking for the services you provide. If a search has always provided good levels of converted traffic there is no reason to believe that this will change as a result of Google suggest.


Searches are Intelligent


As internet searching has developed so has the length of the average search query. Most Google searches are now over four words. So it is vitally important not to get sucked into thinking the two-word phrases in Google Suggest are the Holy Grail in terms of SEO and positioning in SERPS. It is also worth remembering that 25% of all Google Searches are new searches. These are search queries that haven’t been asked before. A percentage of these will be misspellings, something that Google Suggest will help to eliminate but not completely remove. If you focus primarily on the terms in Google suggest you will be neglecting the traffic that sits outside these narrow parameters.


Experienced internet users are now canny enough to know what type of search query returns the results they desire. They will continue to type in their preferred query, ignoring the suggestions provided by Google. The effect of the suggest tool in the Google Toolbar is limited unless it is expanded to fill more of the toolbar space as the suggestions tend to be truncated and unreadable. The Suggest tool also doesn’t currently function on the results page of Google it only works on the homepage. This means that any secondary searches will be in the old format without automatic suggestions. A large percentage of searches are carried out from this page and these will increase as Google Suggest returns the wrong kind of results for the user.


Undoubtedly Google Suggest will have an effect on the way in which people search. It would be foolhardy not to include the relevant suggested terms in your SEO strategy but they should not form the focus of your online marketing. I firmly believe much like, Mark Twain, that the death of the long tail keyword has been greatly exaggerated.


For more information about Search Marketing, please contact the search marketing team at Moore-Wilson.


Tony Heywood ©


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