Going After The Long Tail

· Keyword Research

One of the techniques used in search marketing these days involves using keywords that target would-be customers who show up “late” in the purchasing process. They often search for specific items, and employ specific keywords phrases known as long tail keywords due to their statistical distribution. The challenge for website owners and operators is to learn what those keywords are to convert page views to sales.

The long tail is a type of statistical distribution where a high-frequency population is followed by a low-frequency population that gradually drops–or “tails”–off. The long tail as it applies to keyword research is using extensions of central, high volume keyword phrases to include all keyword permutations and their relevant phrases. This, in turn, leads to a potentially higher number of visits based on both random and highly specific searches. Even though the individual words that lie within that long tail don’t account for much traffic on their own, taking the tail as a whole can lead to traffic greater than the sum of the parts.

In most cases, very specific searches are more likely to lead to sales than general searches that tend to focus on the type of research consumers typically conduct on their own prior to making a decision to purchase. That’s because many people in the market have already narrowed their preferences based on earlier research.

Take, for example, the Google search engine. Google’s preeminence is due at least in part to using algorithms to determine the value of content—what search results best answer a user’s questions. A default search in Google uses the “and” operator in Boolean logic. This means that, unless otherwise specified, keywords are linked by the conjunction that includes everything in the search. Putting long tail keywords to use here, then, is the practice of attracting visitors who make infrequent queries on a site but often have something very specific in mind.

One of the main appeals of long-tail search engine marketing is the ability to broaden the reach of marketing to include low-frequency consumers. For example, most users when researching performance enhancing substances for body building might simply type in “steroids.” Others might be more specific, with such keywords as “steroid alternatives” and still others might search under “legal steroid alternatives.” Allowing for these variations – by employing a mix of short, mid-length and longer phrases– are often used by websites to cover these bases. To that end, each page would have a unique title, a unique description Meta tag, and h1 header tag, and a body content that highlights a specific offering by using the chosen long tailed keyword(s).

When ranking sites, the Google algorithm looks for sites that have multiple pages. From both the search engine’s and the real world searcher’s perspective, the site looks more substantial. Those other pages need only be variations of a site’s main offerings, but each could be focused on a specific “long tail” niche.

Ultimately, do your own research is invaluable to any aspect of Internet marketing. As that applies to long tail keywords, that means finding what keywords generate enough traffic to be worth pursuing. This should be combined with researching what the competition to learn what keywords you will be able to see ranked based on the sites you are up against.

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