Long Tail Keywords. What are they and how do your use them to get
If you stick around long enough online, you will run into the
phrase, "long tail keywords".
What does that mean exactly. The following articles is from
Matt Bailey, founder of
The principle of the Long Tail is the opposite of focusing on the top 10-20 keywords for
marketing their sites. The "top keyword" concept is reinforced by agencies that contract to gain
rankings for 10-20 terms, maybe 30. However, when studying the referrals from the search engines
and the traffic they generate, those that focus on the top 10-20 terms may be missing the majority
of their market.
People tend to focus on the thousands of visitors that come to the site for the most popular
terms. Most site managers are very happy to see the numbers increase for those specific terms, and
even happier to see those terms consistently ranking well. Conventional thinking applies the 80-20
rule that the top terms provide 80% of the business, but in evaluating multiple sites, this has
proved to be the opposite.
In most cases, the top 10 terms provide a lot of traffic, but not nearly as much as the total
terms after the top 10 or 20 most popular. Add up the terms that refer 1-3 visits during the month,
and chances are, they will add up to more total visitors than the top terms. On closer examination,
most sites will have the majority of their business (sales and leads) generated from these terms
that are rarely tracked. This is the heart of the long tail -- the length, or total number of
low-number referred terms outnumbers the height, or the total of top 10 terms.
In other words, the terms that are most popular, most managed by site owners, are rarely those
that provide the most business. In most studies, the success of the site was from the hundreds or
thousands of referrals outside of the most popular terms. This was investigated and reported by
Chris Anderson in Wired. (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html)
As an example, Amazon.com makes 57% of sales from keywords outside of the "popular" terms.
In the world of the web, where minute details are tracked, business is not won in the dozens of
mega-popular terms, business is made in the "thousands of dozens." The groups of terms that may
only result in a single visit, but number in the thousands. These are the dozens of market segments
that search for specific needs, specific requirements and detailed terms.
Of course, we tried this with some of our clients, and ALL of them fit the "Long Tail"
principle. The most significant was a client whose main requirement was to rank for two terms. He
believed that all of his customers focused on those two terms as well. An initial report showed
that his top 10 terms brought in over half of the site's overall search referrals. However, when
looking at sales generated by search terms,18.6% of conversions were from top 10 keywords.
Conversely, 81.2% of the conversions were from hundreds of other search terms outside of the top
10. The 80/20 rule works in reverse, providing a sweet spot of opportunity.
Search your keyword referrals, but leave out the top terms. What types of terms are bringing
your site visitors? Where are your sales being generated? If you are not tracking sales generated
by keyword, then it's time to break out the heavy artillery of a good stats program and find out if
the Long Tail is working for you.
Matt Bailey is the
founder of SiteLogic, a web
marketing consulting company. He leads seminars and teaches companies how to use their sites
more effectively and to build a web business by applying common sense sales and marketing
techniques. He is a specialist in interpreting web site statistics into practical
Matt has been in the search marketing industry for ten
years, and started leading classes in the late 1990's. One of his first opportunities was as a
regular speaker for the Ohio Innkeeper's Association, teaching practical web site marketing
techniques. Since that time he has worked with hundreds of companies, instructing them in web
Matt takes a very holistic view of website marketing,
including accessibility, which has become a passion and a crusade. His goal with
The Web Site
Accessibility Blog is to teach
companies that they can easy apply search marketing and accessibility techniques to their web