Car insuranceConsider a keyword like “car insurance.” For that matter, consider a keyword like “make money online” or “seo.” All of these keywords are ridiculously popular and extremely competitive. In fact, when you search for the keyword “car insurance,” no less than 150 million pages are returned in the results. According to the Google Adwords tool, there are 6.2 million keyword searches for that exact term each month.

Generic Terms Aren’t Useful

Here’s another bit of information many people don’t realize – generic search terms are nearly worthless unless you run a major conglomerate (i.e. Allstate or Geico might want to rank for Car Insurance, but your blog post on the best deals in car insurance for California drivers doesn’t want or need to rank for that keyword).
Sure, they get lots of hits, but those hits are generic. They don’t actually provide you with customers ready to make a purchase. Instead, these hits, assuming you claw your way to the top, mean you may get lots of traffic but not a lot of money, which is after all the reason you want traffic to begin with.

Why They’re Not Useful

So why exactly wouldn’t I want to rank for a keyword like car insurance if I wanted to sell car insurance. It’s simple – people searching for car insurance want something more specific. They may want comprehensive car insurance. They may want cheap car insurance. They may want car insurance in Italy. The possibilities are endless and with a generic term like that, you simply don’t do well at sales.

It’s Called Long Tail Marketing

The idea here is what is known as long tail marketing. I’ve discussed this before, but it’s been a while. In essence, long tail marketing means targeting much more specific keywords so that you get the people who are really ready to make a purchase.
The classic example is when you target the keyword laptop computers. Someone doing a search for the term laptop computers may well be looking for a laptop computer to buy. They may also be looking for the history of laptop computers. Or they may be looking for the latest technology news in laptop computers.

Drill Down to Make Sales

Drill down a bit and go to Lenovo ThinkPad. Now you’re getting closer to consumers who want to make a purchase. Drill down further and put in Lenovo ThinkPad T series and you’re much closer to getting customers who want to buy. Drill still further down and put in Lenovo ThinkPad T420s and you’re going to make more sales even though you’ll have much less traffic because people looking for that specific model are likely looking to make a purchase.

The Best Part

The best part of all this however is that not only does long tail keyword targeting work to get more sales, but it is actually cheaper and easier to do. After all, because in our hypothetical search, the term Lenovo ThinkPad T420s has fewer searches, it’s also targeted less often. This means that it’s easier to rank toward the top of the SERPs for that term.
Plus, because you’re no longer targeting generic keyword terms, you also aren’t paying for traffic to your website which isn’t actually going to buy anything. Bottom line, “car insurance” and other generic keywords are very competitive. However, they’re also not very useful for the average Internet marketer and as such should generally be avoided unless you happen to be running Geico.