Optometry SEO Keywords - The Long and Short of It

By Practice Growth September 14, 2020

In today’s world, obsessing about your SEO and ranking on search engines is almost a necessity if you want to remain competitive. After all, you can directly relate your business performance to how well you’re optimizing for certain keywords.

But SEO is fickle and constantly changing to adapt to the user’s needs. So if you want to have any chance of remaining at the top, you need to keep up.

In practice, that means leaving behind some long-held convictions about how to rank for relevant terms. It means the era of short-tail keywords is waning and long-tail keywords for optometry are the future.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords

As the name implies, long-tail keywords are a series of words that respond to a specific search. They narrowly describe the searcher’s intent and, consequently, receive less volume than short-tail keywords.

In contrast, short-tail keywords are the one- or two-word search terms you’re likely familiar with.

It used to be the case that short-tail keywords worked great for optometry searches.

Ranking for the keyword optometrist + your location was an almost guaranteed way to drive more customers to your practice. Not so anymore.

Long-tail keywords are becoming the new SEO norm for many good reasons, of which we’ll get to soon.

First, let’s see why short-tail keywords are becoming less popular.

The Problem with Short-Tail Keywords

Admittedly, short-tail keywords are still incredibly powerful. What has changed is the SEO landscape around them. To be more precise:

1. Short-tail keywords are highly competitive

Sure, optometrist + location still has the highest potential to drive traffic. But everyone realizes that, and it’s also the most competitive type of keyword to rank for. This makes ranking for those keywords much more difficult than it used to be.

2. Short-tail keywords are expensive

The consequence of all the competition around short-tail keywords is increased monetization by Google in the form of ads. And it drives the price of paid advertising higher for those keywords. The more you spend on ranking for keywords, the worse your return is on that investment. Although you can set budgets on your pay per click campaigns, short-tail keywords are going to suck your budget dry in no time.

3. Short-tail keywords don’t answer users intent

If someone searches for an optometrist in your area, what does that tell you about their needs? When you dig a little deeper, you realize not much.

Do they need an optometrist for themselves? For a loved one? Do they need an eye exam or new corrective lenses?

Short-term keywords aren’t specific and ultimately have lower conversion rates.

Why Long-Tail Keywords Work

That’s why you should start diversifying away from short-term keywords. Now, let’s see how long-tail keywords can help you.

Long-tail keywords, by their nature, are more attuned to the searcher’s intent. By way of example, take a look at these two searches.

Eye doctor near me


Where can I get prescription contact lenses

Which one do you think better describes what the searcher needs right now?

Some of the benefits of catering to user intent include:

1. You’ll be more competitive organically

Long-tail keywords are less competitive and they have lower search volume. But that also means they’re an excellent opportunity to increase your organic traffic with less effort. You can outrank your competitors without outspending them.

2. Dominate SERP features

Search Engine Results Page features include things like similar searches, image results, and anything else that’s not one of the “ten blue links” on the first page.

These SERP features give you a chance to rank on the first page of results without actually having one of the top ten pages.

And the best part?

Many SERP features respond directly to how well you rank for certain long-tail keywords.

3. It contextualizes your content

A big goal of Google, and other search engines, is to understand the context around a search. In an effort to accomplish that, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update moved to more accurately match the exact phrasing of searches.

What that means for SEO is that searches for broad terms without context are getting thinned out, slowly.

Investing in long-tail keywords is not only a good strategy to adopt right now, it’s going to help you future-proof your SEO efforts.

4. Long-tail keywords lead to better conversion rates

Long-tail keywords have a click-through rate as much as 5% higher than generic searches. Add to that the fact that long-tail keywords have an average conversion rate of 36%.

That’s a higher average conversion rate than the top 10% of landing pages.

The reason is, again, that long-tail keywords address immediate search intent. They’re much more likely to respond to a searcher's needs at the time of the search and therefore, are more likely to attract immediate action.

5. Long-tail keywords will help you rank for short ones as well

Besides being exceptionally competitive, short-tail keywords are relatively limited. After all, there are only so many single keywords that apply to your eyecare practice.

When you’re ranking for optometrist, eye doctor, ophthalmologist, etc. you’ll still want to drive traffic to your site.

And the way to do that is creating content that harnesses the power of these long-tail keywords. While they offer lower volume individually, long-tail keywords still drive traffic to your domain and improve your domain authority.

Better domain authority will help your single keyword rankings even if the traffic isn’t coming from those specific keywords.

How to Find Long-Tail Keywords

By now, you should be convinced that long-tail keywords are a powerful SEO tool you need to be using. So the next question is where to find them.

You’ve got many options to find ones that apply to your practice and area. One SEO experts use frequently is Google’s autocomplete feature.

Think of any broad topic searchers may look for related to your practice and start typing it into Google, such as:

Best eye doctors for…

The autocomplete results will show you what people typically type after that statement. Use those to guide your long-tail strategy.

You can also use any of the myriad free tools for long-tail keyword research, such as LSIGraph.

Establish Your Long-Tail Strategy

Everything indicates long-tail keywords will continue to play a major part of SEO in the years to come.

If you want to continue being competitive in your SEO efforts, strongly consider including long-tail keywords in your strategy. They’re one of the best ways to continue broadening your domain authority without exponentially increasing your SEO investment.

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