July 1st, 2010 | Bill McIntosh, Founder

The basic idea of the Long Tail is that you can capitalize on more specific, less competitive and less searched keywords in order to be successful.  The general idea is that you can generate say 10,000 visitors to your site, using 7,000 different Long Tail keywords as opposed to 10,000 visitors from a single term.  The Long Tail is not a specific number or a specific range.  It doesn’t have anything to do with the length of the keyword or how many words are in a keyword phrase.  It is variable and changes depending on what you are trying to accomplish.  The gist of it is, you can get close to as much, or sometimes more traffic from the Long Tail as you can get from the more general terms.  And here’s the best part: Most often, the Long Tail keywords will give you better targeted and more interested visitors.  And that means they buy more!

Let’s do an example and take a look at the following image:

*NOTE: The keywords, placements and lines are all arbitrary and are placed for illustrative purposes only.

As you can see, I am using real estate as my example, however this applies to every market and niche.  Let’s say you are a real estate agent in Boise, Idaho and you want to attract interested, potential home buyers.  If you try and rank in Google for the term “Real Estate”, you are setting yourself up to fail.  That term has millions of searches and millions of competitors, and the top rankings are going to go to huge companies with huge budgets.  Also, someone searching for “real estate” isn’t necessarily an interested buyer, it’s most likely someone doing some research or “just looking”.  The same as above would go for “Real Estate Agent”, and even though you’re getting more specific, “Homes for Sale” is still a very broad term with a lot of competition.  Ok, now let’s look at “Help to buy a home”.  That is a really good term.  The person seems pretty interested and there is much less competition for this term (although there is also less search volume).  However, this is a term you can probably start to rank for and actually get some traffic (SOME traffic on a Long Tail term is better than NO traffic for a general term).  Going even further, and even longer, “Buy a new home in Boise, ID” is a great term as it is someone looking to buy a home in your area.  That is a pretty good term and you can probably do very well with it.  However, you are still going to be competing with most other real estate agents in Boise for that term.  Ok, now let’s take “Relocating and need a home in Boise Idaho”.  Let’s say for example that only 20 people a month search for this term.  This is a GREAT term for our ficticious real estate agent!  Why is it so great?  Well, for one thing, not many people are going to be targeting that term because it doesn’t get a lot of searches and doesn’t seem worthwhile.  But even better than that, if you have this term targeted and you are obviously the leader for this term in the search results, you are likely going to get 10-15 very interested people calling you every month!  And if you have 100 terms like this, you could have over 1.000 people calling you, interested in buying a home.  If you close only 1% of those people, you’d sell 10 homes a month!

I highly reccomend you read the original Wired article, written by Chris Anderson.  It gives a complete picture of the theory of the Long Tail, and is in my opinion one of the most important articles written about our digital world.

Tags: ,