SEOMoz has a White Board Friday post that points out the value of long tail keywords in your SEO strategy. It’s easy to get distracted by the top yielding keywords, typically ones you have paid for too, because they yield most of your traffic. But the cumulative value of the long tail words is usually the big opportunity.
The trouble with long tail keywords is (1) that there are a lot of them, and (2) they require content rather than link building or other SEO techniques.
Content creation for the long tail is difficult because it (1) involves researching the long tail keywords, (2) writing the content containing those keywords, (3) continuing to build and refresh that content so it doesn’t get stale from a user or search engine perspective.
The good news is that your community (members/readers/visitors/users) can do this for you in a way that achieves all of these goals. They inherently know and use the range of long tail keywords in their everyday language. They are happy to create content on an ongoing basis if it benefits the community. So what is required is a methodology which generates good content that is SEO friendly.
Comments have shown to be of limited value on this front because they are typically and extension of the original post and don’t encourage quality content – even though they often reap it in spite of this. Forums are foreboding to non-cult membership and are lacking in good SEO structure.
What has proven to meet all these needs is Q&A. There is very popular post about the benefit of posting to Yahoo Answers on SEOMoz as well. These benefits are only magnified when they occur in the context of a site that is a vertical, or of niche interest, rather than trying to appeal to the Internet as a whole. Even small sites can perform exceptionally well in Google when they have Q&A.
Here’s a great example: Search for “Books set in Seattle” in Google (this search link removes personalization). You will notice that the 4th result is Ravenna Third Place Books. A local bookstore with a tiny site, little traffic and very little Q&A. That’s the power of Q&A. This search used to be #1 on the SERP but has fallen to #4 over a 5 month period.
So for long tail keywords you should have a Q&A site. For better SEO in general you should contribute to Q&A sites and, by the way, the other benefits that come with having membership in niche sites will also be rewarding.