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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 and better search engine optimization marketing the idea with ‘the Long Tail’ is to be visible for as many near 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 may 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 be visible for. An SEO strategy focused on long tail keywords can be a good one so long as there is some traffic. Obviously, to target keywords that nobody is searching is mostly useless.

This is NOT meant to suggest a business should give up targeting the obvious searches [i.e. New York City Real Estate]. On the contrary, the point is based more on a potentially cost- effective approach to being visible in the search engines. Pursuing the most competitive search topics versus what is likely to be competition with the deepest pockets may simply be cost- prohibitive.

Research shows that people do search more specifically and so a cost- effective means to capture them can be broader ‘long tail’ keyword targeting. To demonstrate and support this ‘Long Tail’ theory, here is traffic analytics data drawn ( compiled originally in 2007 ) from a committed Vail CO Real Estate client that had 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. We examined one month of data to demonstrate ‘long tail’ search discovery success.

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

Albeit anonymous, the data above demonstrates ‘Long Tail theory’ success based upon less targeted keyword variations amounting to 81% of the overall search traffic. We’d argue they are not only cost- effective marketers, but even better – they are capturing the most qualified eyeballs!