Use Content and Long-Tail Keywords to Increase Traffic

how to use long-tail keywords to get more leads

how to use long-tail keywords to get more leadsI do a bit of blogging for at times, and recently they published an interview with Richard Jacobs called How One Marketer Used Long-Tail Content to Generate 400,000+ Organic Visits in a Single Year. The article is pretty much the bees knees. It’s 7,000+ words, so it’s a bit of a read, but it’s a read that will probably change your online marketing life. Here is a link to the article, but if you’re lazy, I’ve summarized some of the main points.

Before delving in too deep to the main points, however, please keep in mind the definition of a long-tail keyword: longer and more specific keyword phrases that searchers are more likely to enter when they’re are getting closer to making a purchase.

Main Points — How can I boost traffic to my website with long-tail keywords?

  • Targeting short-tail keywords in highly competitive industries doesn’t usually pay off.
  • Target long-tail keywords instead of short-term.
  • Target long-tail keywords by adding content to your site with long-tail keywords in the content.
  • Think of targeting keyword themes, and writing content around the them. For example, instead of targeting “DUI test,” think about reasons why someone would fail a DUI test, and tailor content around those questions searchers might have. In other words, write articles with answers to common questions embedded in them, instead of writing an article for each separate topic.
  • Again, write articles with common industry questions embedded within them. This is a great way to capture more traffic.
  • Traffic can come from a huge number of keywords, so make sure you are writing helpful content, rather than focusing on short-term keywords (remember how Searchlight Content has been advocating this idea for centuries practically).
  • Both clicks and conversions often come from long-tail keyword searches (Richard noticed about 80% from his analytics).
  • Don’t restrict your PPC campaign to a few narrow keywords. Check out the “other” keyword options.
  • Think in terms of creating content for keyword themes, rather than instituting SEO practices for a few generic short-tail keywords. Have different landing pages for different keyword themes. Instead of 1 landing page, for example, you may have 50 landing pages with different and relevant themed content.
  • Write as many articles as possible on keyword themes (that are good, of course), and sort them out later…meaning, figure out how to best implement them into your PPC/SEO plan as you fine-tune your campaign.
  • You can spend less on hiring a quality and professional freelance writer than on bidding on useless keywords for PPC.
  • Optimization is a process, not a one time deal. You learn by answering questions in the form of content, and looking at the analytics. Think of your customers in terms of real searchers who are looking for answers to questions, rather than assigning them a short-term keyword.
  • This process is a combined PPC and SEO process. It’s new. It’s fresh. It works.
  • One of the best ways to maximize your quality score (which Google wants you to do) is to write RELEVANT CONTENT.
  • If you only focus on short-tail content, you’re missing out on 70% to 80% of the market.
  • Pull back the first keyword you think of, look at its layers, and then target those keywords, or that keyword theme in your content. This will bring you much more traffic.
  • When creating landing pages and content, make sure you offer links out, so that Google is happy, and your visitors can find more information about you/your company.
  • Don’t trap customers in one page of content. They may not be ready to buy. They may want to read more, so give them more to read by linking out to other helpful content within your website. It can be another landing page, or another blog post. Help your searchers get as much information as they need before purchasing. You won’t regret it.
  • Take care of the visitor by offering options on your articles and landing pages.
  • Use content to build out your site, and make it bigger and more relevant.

And, that’s pretty much it. Wow! Loved this interview so much. While I covered the main points, make sure to read the article from You’ll love it.







Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer, and the owner of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

How to Become a Successful Content Writer

How to Become a Successful Content Writer

My whole professional life, I wanted to be a freelance writer. I loved the idea of doing what I love most and also having the flexibility in schedule that freelancing allows. However, I was a bit nervous to break free from the corporate world, and go it alone. Many questions went through my mind including:

  • How would I go about making money?
  • How would I establish my brand?
  • How would I get clients?
  • Am I good enough?
  • What would I do about health insurance?

Sound familiar? While you may have a few concerns about a freelance writing career, I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT and there is no better time than now. With the recent emphasis Google (and other search engines) have placed on the importance of quality website content, great writers are in high demand (or at least should be). That means there is a lot of work out there. If you’re finally ready to make the plunge into a freelance writing career, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Get a website

The first action item in building your freelance career is to make sure people can find you online. It’s rare that people will learn about your writing services, unless you have a website up and running. Make sure to include samples of your work, your resume, and anything else interesting about yourself.

You may be worried about the cost of a website. You definitely don’t want to go the route of trying to do it yourself, and creating something that is super fugly, but you also don’t have to spend $8,000 either. Try placing a bid on, and hire someone who matches your budget, or you can do what I did and beg a friend to help you. Thank you, Charlott.

Start a blog

Not only do you want a website, but you also want to make sure you have an active blog up and running. Ideally, this blog should be connected to your website. Blogging will help you refine your writing skills, and give you your own space in the blogging community. Choose a topic that fascinates you. For example, I write about travel, content marketing, and have plans to start a good ole fashioned mom blog soon.

Establish social media profiles

Social media works well to help you find clients and helps you establish your brand. I would say the most important social media profile for freelance writers is LinkedIn, followed by Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. LinkedIn is where I get a handful of my clients, and Google+ is important for extending your search engine reach. Here are some quick social media tips:

  1. Fill out your profiles completely…this includes a pic and contact info
  2. Post daily (not too much though, or people will start to get annoyed with you)
  3. Use 1-2 hashtag on every post
  4. Remember hashtags are short keywords, not cute sentences
  5. Follow and engage with other writers and interesting brands via social media

 More about LinkedIn

Seriously, guys and gals, LinkedIn is where I get most of my clients. Remember LinkedIn is a professional social network, so feel free to connect with interesting people, fun brands, and network like crazy. I love LinkedIn <insert dreamy sigh here>.

Google Authorship

After you have set up your Google+ page, you are also going to want to make sure you set up Google Authorship. This will help you with your brand and your authority. It’s a great way for people to see all your work in an organized fashion. Plus, it’s a Google program, and everything Google does is bomb. For more instructions on how to set up your Google Authorship profile, go here.

Google Authorship

Ashley Cummings Google Authorship

Learn how to write for the Internet (This one is HUGE)

If you’ve gone to high school or college, you’ve had teachers drill a certain format for “excellent writing” into your system forever. You know it well. Start with a catchy introduction with a thesis statement. Write body paragraphs to support your thesis, and end with a solid conclusion stating strongly and creatively what it is you already said. While this is an excellent format for academic writing, it’s not great for the Internet.

The reason is because studies show that people searching the Internet read in a completely different fashion than they read books or academic journals, and it’s hardly narrative. Think about it for a minute. Do you read every word on your favorite website, or do you scan headlines and bullet points? My guess is the latter.

When people read on the Internet, they read in an F-shaped pattern. In other words, they read the first paragraph well, scan throughout the article and hardly ever read the end (see pic below).

F shape pattern

This means a couple really important things for content writers.

  1. The most important stuff should come first
  2. Break up content with headers
  3. Use bullet points and number lists
  4. Less is more
  5. That big strong academic conclusion paragraph at the end is unnecessary in content writing. Sometimes I don’t even write a conclusion. Usually I just end with a call to action with some contact info.


Another great way to make contacts is to go to networking events. I started by going to the Chamber of Commerce, chumming up with my dad’s advertising friends (seriously), and going to the Utah Business Expo. While you’re getting your website designed, make sure you get a business card designed as well, and get out there, meet people, and tell them about how you rock.

Ask for reviews/endorsements

This is one I am still working on, because sometimes I feel pretty shy about asking for Google+ reviews, LinkedIn review, and testimonials. While it can feel a bit weird to ask for a review if your client likes the work, the review can go a long way. Think of it as a bunch of mini letters of recommendation. Word of mouth is where it is at these days.

Guest Blog

Another great way to establish an online presence is to submit a guest post to a website you like. Your main goal should be to provide an article that their readers will absolutely love, but you can also get a little exposure, get more writing samples, and maybe even acquire a link back to your website. I for one love receiving guest posts on this blog. Hint. Hint. Submit them to me at, kapesh?

Learn a little bit about Internet marketing

My final tip, for now, is to learn a little bit about Internet marketing. Content writers exist primarily on the Internet, so make sure you have a tiny grasp on the ins and outs of Internet marketing. You should know the basics of SEO, PPC, social media marketing, content marketing, and more. Here are some excellent resources.

Well, hopefully that helps you out on your content writing endeavors. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?

Content writers unite! Go forth and conquer!


Ashley R. Cummings Freelance Writer
Ashley R. Cummings


Author: Ashley R. Cummings

@ashleyrcummings is the owner and founder of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on Google+LinkedIn, or Facebook.


For the Love of Content Promotion with Content Marketing

content marketing

For the Love of Content Promotion

When was the last time you watched an entire set of commercials (Okay, not including Super Bowl Sunday)? How about the last time you ordered something from a catalogue in the mail? I am guessing it’s hard to remember. Don’t feel guilty. You’re simply a modern consumer, and the reason businesses today are turning toward less traditional marketing methods. Breaking away means relying on methods, such as content promotion, that allow you to establish credible relationships with the public rather than simply make the sale. If you want to break through the clutter and reach your customers, you need to learn to love it!

What is Content Promotion?

Content promotion or content marketing seeks to educate an audience, rather than directly sell something. Creative content can make an audience fall in love with a company rather than simply be vaguely acquainted. Companies are now learning how to get customers to anticipate and look forward to their advertisements and/or content, rather than just change the channel or throw them in the trash.

In an article for the Huffington Post, Jennifer Nagy recently said:

content marketing is a two way street

Nagy suggests four target areas for a content marketing strategy: blogs, social media, non-promotional content (dropping the sales pitch), and videos.

Where do I start?

Choosing effective content promotion strategies can be tricky. For starters, you need to clearly define your target audience. Once you understand who your special someones are, you must then create valuable content that will make their hearts swoon. Consistently providing them with relevant and valuable content will promote retention as long as your content drives them to action. Sounds easy, right? Well, with the right tools it is!

Let’s simplify it a bit.

  1. Define your target audience
  2. Create valuable content
  3. Design a content promotion strategy

While there are many strategies our there to promote your content, let’s focus on a few that use social media with non-promotional content. I know what you’re thinking, “How in Cupid’s name do I market my business without promoting it?” Here’s how.

Make Your Content Valuable, Not Just Self-Promotional

Would you want to be on a date with someone who constantly talked about himself or herself in a like manner: “I am an amazing surfer. I am the best surfer out there. I invented surfing, and that is why I am awesome at surfing.” You’d ask for the check before the appetizers were eaten.

Similarly, audiences do not fully engage in self-promotional advertising. Instead, if your social media and business blog content for your surfboard company focused on sharing the best areas to surf, surf history, and current surfing events, people interested in surfing would likely want to follow you. You then create a relationship based on your content being of value to them. This trust will then inspire your audience to look to you the next time they are looking to purchase a surfboard.

Tweak your Tweets

Promoting yourself on Twitter is great, but using Twitter as a tool to start conversations and promote content from others will win you admirers. Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media recommends this strategy; whenever you post something, take a few minutes to check out others that are interested in the topic you posted. If you follow them, they will have easier access to your recent tweets. Because your content is of interest to them, they have a higher possibility of following you and are less likely to break your heart.

Get Involved in Industry Forums

Backlinko founder Brian Dean  asserts that utilizing industry forums opens you up to an audience that has already gathered with an interest in the topic. The compatibility is already there! You can include a simpler version of your content in an existing thread or start your own. Answering questions and being a part of the forum community can lead others directly to you as they begin to look to you as a trusted source.

These are just a few ways you can up your game with content promotion. Don’t make marketing your content a love-hate relationship with your audience. Remember, if you promote something of value to the right people, you can’t go wrong.


Jessica Stoker





@onanotherwhim, Jessica Stoker, flies the friendly skies. She’s a globetrotter, an ancient history enthusiast, and appreciates anything that touches the soul. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

5 Content Marketing Strategy Lessons Courtesy of Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman Interview = Great Content Marketing

Richard Sherman Interview = Great Content Marketing

I’m a believer that you can learn something from anyone. I’m putting that theory to the test today by attempting to draw five content marketing strategy lessons from NFL cornerback, Richard Sherman. Before we begin, here’s Richard displaying his “content” in a post-game interview with reporter Erin Andrews:

Richard Sherman Post Game Interview

Lesson 1 – Be Bottomless

Just like Richard Sherman will never run out of words, you should never run out of content. Becoming “bottomless” doesn’t just mean having a lot of content, it means having content for every occasion. Blogs, articles, emails, and newsletters are great, but social media, video, photography, and graphics are just as essential.

Lesson 2 – Be Heard

Not only does Sherman have something to say at all times, but what he says demands an audience. Does your content do the same? A great way to tell whether or not you are really being heard is by measuring interaction. Interaction is often tied to social media where it is easily measured with likes, retweets, comments, shares, and so forth. However, measuring email replies (not just open rate), click-through-rate, time on site, and even phone calls elicited from content can also be insightful metrics.

Lesson 3 – Be Clear

While I may not know Richard Sherman very well (okay, I don’t know him at all), I do know that he thinks he’s the best corner in the National Football League. How do I know? Because he said, “I am the best corner in the league.” Clear, concise content is a must and it begins with a clear, concise business identity. Are you an industry leader or a mom-and-pop shop? Do you sell your products before your service, or vice versa? Get to know yourself and let that knowledge fuel your content.

Lesson 4 – Be Consistent

While the debate continues over whether or not Richard Sherman is a hero or a villain, there is no denying that he is a very good football player. Week in and week out he makes plays for his team and fans, avoids (or plays through) injury, and gives his very best. As you develop content, look for areas that need to improve so that your content is consistently awesome. Especially before you make a new hire, take a look at your content to decide where you could use an added bit of expertise.

Lesson 5 – Be Divisive

Richard Sherman has effectively divided his audience into two categories: those that hate him and those that don’t. Luckily, you have the opportunity to be a bit more strategic in the division of your audience by looking for ways to create contrast between yourself and your competitors. Does Company X lack a strong social media presence? See if your company can fill the void. Does Company Y have a reputation for poor customer service? Create customer testimonials that touch on positive customer service experiences.

Despite Richard Sherman’s best efforts, my belief that you can learn something from anyone lives on.


Keaton Wagner@keatonwagner, Keaton Wagner, is a marketing communications professional who flaunts his wares as a freelance writer for Searchlight Content, and works as a marketing coordinator at the University of Utah.  He has a Bachelor’s in Strategic Communication from the University of Utah and loves reading epic fantasy.  Connect with him on  LinkedIn.

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Content Writer from Searchlight Content

Image showing top 10 reasons to hire a content writer

Image showing top 10 reasons to hire a content writer
10. You’re so busy building your business that you don’t even want to take time to visit the restroom, let alone sit down and try and write a blog post.

9. The F-shape pattern reminds you more of your college English grade than a web content reading pattern.

8. You like paying a small per project fee, rather than paying an in-house copywriter a huge yearly salary (and yes, you should be paying your copywriter a HUGE salary).

7. Your last business blog post is from 2012.

6. Increased Internet traffic to your website is your favorite.

5. You would rather spend the time it would take you to write a blog post making way more money than you are paying us. Searchlight Content is so dang affordable; it’s almost a crime.

4.  You can trust writers that have over 100+ years of collective and diversified writing experience. We’re ancient sages when you put us all together.

3. Google says to produce a lot of website content. Remember Google is pretty much the boss of all of us. We do what they say.

2. You’re getting bored of “lorem ipsum” as the content filler for the blog you’ve been intending to start.

1. You want a fan club of consumers who are interested in your business.

For more information about how to get started with building your business blog, contact us at Searchlight Content today. We would be happy to help you out.


Ashley R. Cummings
Ashley R. Cummings

@ashleyrcummings is the owner and founder of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on Google+LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Let’s Talk Content Strategy

Content Strategy 101

strategic content marketing

You’ve heard the phrase “content is king,” but too often in business strategy content is seen less as a ruling monarch and more as a low-ranking member of court. Consider the following and determine whether your content strategy is on the throne, or wearing tights and juggling for your entertainment.

A Content Strategy State of Mind

Even though a content strategy can and should be a detailed strategic plan, it begins as a mindset. The example below illustrates this point. Take a look at how the same problem is approached in two completely different ways.

Problem: Low conversion rates for visitors to your website.

Solution #1

A meeting is called and after a brainstorming session, the conclusion is drawn that adding a FAQs page within the site will proactively answer questions, thus improving the conversion rate. A list of frequently asked questions and its answers is compiled and added to the website. In this scenario, no research is conducted, and no strategy is set forth to determine the real cause of the problem before determining a solution that may or may not work.

Solution #2

The same meeting is called, but instead of immediately thinking of a solution to the problem, your team first determines how to find the cause of the problem. Assignments are made to do the following:

    •  Analyze competitor marketing schemes
    •  Interview customers
    •  Learn what consumers are saying on social media
    •  Conduct meaningful keyword research
    •  And so on

The research of your team reveals that consumers are visiting your site, but are ultimately leaving your page and purchasing elsewhere. As a solution to this problem, consumer personas, based on your research conclusions, are developed to help direct the creation of new content and the repurposing of old content in order to better persuade your target market to stay on your page and purchase from your website.

Solution #2 = Content Strategy.

A Framework for all your Content

Once a mindset of strategic thinking is in place, it’s time to get down to the details. A good content strategy will take a large idea (e.g. the customer personas created above) and apply it to the simplest content. This is done by creating a framework. Here’s an example:

Analyze effectiveness – Ask yourself the following questions: Are the media and content I’m using connecting me to my target audience? Do my consumers understand and connect with my brand? Is there a type of content our customers aren’t interested in enough to continue producing it?

Set goals for improvement – For example, a great goal of yours may be to increase click-through-rate (CTR) by 3% over the course of one month.

Determine how to achieve those goals – For example, plan to increase your CTR by producing more targeted blog posts, eliciting customer testimonials, finding user-generated content, promoting contests, conducting workshops, increasing advertising opportunities, etc.

Pinpoint what it takes to get you where you want to go – Do you need to revise your editorial calendar? Do you need more writers, designers, developers? Could you use a social media strategist?

Track your results – Tracking results by using proven metrics is one of the best ways to learn how to set goals, determine how to achieve them, and to understand how to get where you want to go.

Whatever your framework is, make sure it’s easy to remember and gives your content creators direction.


Smaller businesses will have an easier time controlling the content that their company produces. However, large corporations will likely need someone in charge of monitoring content and making sure it fits the bill.

For example, your company may have multiple social media profiles. While these may seem like separate entities from inside your organization, consumers see them as a single social media presence. Are all your social profiles in line with what your content strategy is trying to do? Ideally, the same person in charge of creating your content strategy should be in charge of monitoring content, then working with other departments when theirs needs tweaking.

The Takeaways

In a nutshell, consider this from Kathy Hanbury of

“If you approach your content marketing initiative knowing that it will constantly evolve, and that you’re guiding its evolution, then you’re practicing content strategy.”

Content strategy is not just important, it’s necessary. Not only is it essential to the success of your marketing efforts, but think of the competition that is undoubtedly becoming more strategic with their content. Can you afford not to?


Keaton Wagner

@keatonwagner, Keaton Wagner, is a marketing communications professional who flaunts his wares as a freelance writer for Searchlight Content, and works as a marketing coordinator at the University of Utah.  He has a Bachelor’s in Strategic Communication from the University of Utah and loves reading epic fantasy.  Connect with him on  LinkedIn.

Welcome to Searchlight Content!

content writing services
At Searchlight Content, we provide top-notch content writing services that help generate sales.

Welcome to the very first blog post on what we hope will become your favorite Internet marketing blog of all time. Seriously, I’m currently reading your tarot cards, and that’s what they say: Your. Favorite. Blog. Ever. Now that I’ve read your fortune, I want to give you a quick rundown of how Searchlight Content was born.

In my spare time, I do a lot of blogging for various Internet marketing websites. As I have researched current Internet marketing trends, I’ve realized that the success of any Internet marketing effort—whether it’s link building, social sharing, or blogging—relies 100% on quality content creation. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that your audience (Google and your consumers) loves content. LOVES. This makes consistent, high-quality content creation an absolute must.

1. Google Loves Content

Ever since the beginning of Google time, Google has been refining their algorithms in order to return the most relevant results to searchers. Because Google is extremely committed to relevancy, Google gets nearly 6 billion searches per day from consumers. Additionally, nearly 80% of people searching Google won’t even click past the first page of the search results before selecting a company. As a website owner, pleasing Google in order to get your website listed on their front pages should be on the top of your priority list. After all, that’s one of the best ways for your target audience to find you.

Back in the olden days of search engine marketing, it was rather easy to manipulate Google’s algorithms with keyword stuffing, purchasing links, and other black-hat SEO practices in order to make sure your web page showed at the top of the search results. Over time, Google has given those black hat search marketing tactics a swift kick in the butt, has tightened up their algorithms, and currently bans websites that are pursuing black hat SEO tactics. Now, Google looks to pin the proverbial 1st page placement gold medal on websites that are producing robust, fresh, and continuous website content. The best way to do this is by maintaining a blog on your website.

2. Your Target Audience Loves Content

The second reason why quality content creation is so important is because Google is not the only one reading content your website! Ultimately, your website is for people—and people love content. If you’ve taken a gander at any of your social media profiles in the last 5 minutes, you’ll notice that friend after friend is sharing noteworthy content. Also, statistics show that people can read through hundreds of pages of content before making a purchase, and you want to make sure the content they are reading is coming from your website.

Why You Need Searchlight Content

This is where Searchlight Content enters the picture. Searchlight Content understands that both the people at Google and your target audience love websites that produce killer blog content (we define “killer” as sharable, relevant, interesting, educational, informative, etc.). We also know that not every business has the time, ability, or skill to produce top-notch content. That’s why we do it for you at a fraction of the cost you would pay an in house content writer . You’re welcome.

Here at Searchlight Content, we want you to be able to focus on what it is that you do best—running a business—and let us focus on what we do best. Writing.

Contact us today to get started.


Ashley R. Cummings
Ashley R. Cummings

@ashleyrcummings is the owner and founder of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, or Facebook.