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“The Long Tail” As It Relates To Search Engine Visibility

Web Design And Development | Kinetic KnowledgeThe Long Tail theory was developed by Chris Anderson in his Oct 2004 Wired Magazine article describing how the web might influence certain business & economic models. Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine at the time, later authored his best selling book ‘The Long Tail’ to better detail the theory.

As it applies to content, blogging & search engine optimization marketing, the idea with ‘the Long Tail’ is to be visible for as many variations of one’s core subject focus as is possible. The proven theory being that, while a business may generate less search discovery per keyword variation [i.e. Condos in New York City] than it will for the most obvious & highly targeted keyword search phrases [i.e. New York City Real Estate] due to competitive forces, the collective impact of a broad set of keyword variations might easily exceed that of the most targeted. Better yet, the more varied or ‘long tail’ a targeted search term is, the less competitive it is to rank for. And so an SEO strategy focused on long tail keywords can be a good idea; however, one must be sure to do their traffic research in order to be sure there’s traffic. To target keywords that nobody is searching is mostly useless.

This is not meant to say a business should NOT target the obvious searches [i.e. Connecticut Architect]. On the contrary, the point is based more on a cost- effective approach to being visible in the search engines. From an economic standpoint, pursuing rank for the most competitive search topics may simply be cost- prohibitive versus what is likely to be competition with the deepest pockets. What’s more, research shows that people do search more specifically these days and so a cost- effective means to capture them is broader ‘long tail’ keyword targeting.

To demonstrate, here is data information drawn from a committed Real Estate client that has great keyword indexing for both sought after and then also not so sought after targets. The firm focuses on being indexed for everything going on in its’ community as it relates to Real Estate. To support the theory, we examined one month of data and it certainly demonstrates the kind of ‘long tail search’ discovery success they are seeking.

A. Total ‘Short Tail’ search discovery equaled 190/ 1,015 searches bringing new visitors to their website = 19%

      • Short Tail being the town’s name and state plus the words property, real estate, home or homes


B. Total Long Tail search discovery equaled 825/1,015= 81%

      • Long Tail being as many variations relating to obvious town searches as is possible

a.) different areas of the town were equal to 130 total search discovery variations
b.) condominium complexes equal to 299 total search discovery variations
c.) developments equal to 89 total search discovery variations
d.) clubs equal to 101 total search discovery variations
e.) restaurants and local business equal to 27 total search discovery variations
f.) listings or specific Street equal to 32 total search discovery variations
g.) developer equal to 56 total search discovery variations
h.) random/ miscellaneous equal to 91 total search discovery variations

This anonymous data focuses on actual search discovery, but it doesn’t represent all site traffic including repeat visitors, direct subscribers or anyone else who comes to the site directly. In this case, Long Tail success is proven based upon variations amounting to 81% of the overall search traffic. We’d argue, they are not only cost- effective marketers, but they are also capturing the most qualified eyeballs!