Big keywords are inhabited by big companies with big budgets.
Optimising for ‘longtail’ keywords is generally considered to be the way to go for startups. Big companies can’t rank for everything, so the more specific you are, the better. A query string of five keywords, getting a hundred or so searches per month? Perfect.
Except, in 2015, big companies can rank in Google for everything. Websites like MoneySupermarket.com do rank for everything.
This is because optimising for big keywords can be just as difficult for businesses with media budgets in the millions.
Everyone has to optimise for longtail.
When we worked with MoneySupermarket.com back in 2011 and 2012 the website stayed at number one for “car insurance” for six months.
The rule was that if you can get your website to number one for “car insurance” you must be a good result for people who want to “compare car insurance”, or who want “car insurance for ford focus” or who want “temporary car insurance”.
Optimise for the biggest keywords and deserve to rank for everything.
Now the rule is:
If you don’t rank for everything then you don’t deserve to rank for big keywords.
Just because a million people search for “car insurance” doesn’t mean a million people are looking to buy it.
1 in 10 might want to know who is cheapest. If your website doesn’t tell them the answer then you’re not a good result for those people.
1 in 10 might want to know if they need the things that insurers want to cross sell, like legal protection. Don’t answer the question and you’re not a good result for those people either.
1 in 10 might want to know which car they should buy based on the budget they have for their car insurance. If your website is just an online checkout then you’re not a good result for these people at all.
Maybe 3 or 4 people in every 10 who search for “car insurance” want to find a decent deal and buy it there and then.
If you’re a good result 3 or 4 times out of 10 then that’s a pretty poor success rate.
If 6 or 7 people who search for something click through and bounce, or don’t click on you at all, then you’re not likely to rank for very long.
If you’re not a good result then you don’t deserve to rank.