The term “long tail” applies to a particular feature of some statistical distributions. In a long tail distribution, a high frequency population tails off into a low frequency population that approaches, but doesn’t reach zero. Imagine a graph of book sales. The Y (vertical) axis represents sales. The X (horizontal) axis represents book obscurity. The further away from the Y axis, the lower the book’s popularity. Very popular books show high sales figures. Hence, the closer to the Y axis, the higher the book’s sales. The graph could look something like this:
In a long tail distribution like the one above, the 80 percent of total items that are least popular still account for an important proportion of total sales.
The term “long tail” gained importance in recent years because of work by Chris Anderson, who argued that low-demand products can, in aggregate, make up a market share that is just as important (and sometimes more important) than the few high-demand items, as long as the distribution channel is big enough. Analogously, long tail keywords are less searched-on, but they can really deliver results if you use them correctly. Niche sites and job boards especially should take advantage of long tail keywords for audience development.
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are searched on less, but they can draw in significant traffic over time. In recent years, use of long tail keywords became an important factor in SEO. With less competition for these keywords, high search engine rankings are easier to gain. In a search environment with growing competition around the most popular keywords, focusing some attention on long tail keywords is a sound part of a long term audience development strategy.
How Can These Keywords Benefit You?
Long tail keywords allow you to be more certain about what users are searching for. For example, if you try to rank for a very common keyword like “paint” (691 million Google results), your search engine results could be reaching artists, house painters, or people interested in their computer’s Microsoft Paint program. But suppose you operate a trade site for interior decorators. By putting effort into ranking for the long tail keyword “how to paint a textured ceiling,” (2.4 million Google results), your search engine results are more likely to reach searchers interested in your site’s content. Ranking at the top for long tail keywords can translate to higher conversion rates and better revenue development.
How to Find Long Tail Keywords
Here are 5 ways to find long tail keywords:
1. Look at your site analytics to learn which organic keyword referrals bring people to your site.
2. Pay attention to Google suggestions in the search bar. Start typing in a keyword phrase and you’ll automatically see suggested searches.
3. Google Keyword tool, Keyword Niche Finder, and Twitter Search are other good ways to find long tail keywords.
4. Go to the Wikipedia page for a popular keyword you’re targeting and look at the table of content headings. These often give you a good idea of related long tail keywords.
5. Pay attention to the list of Google Related Searches at the bottom of the first page of search results.
Putting These Keywords to Work for You
There are many ways to use long tail keywords in your SEO strategy. Here are three ways that make sense for many trade websites.
1. Use long tail keywords in your PPC marketing campaigns. This type of fine tuning can help you control costs and increase conversions.
2. Use long tail keywords in new blog content. Long tail keywords are great for targeting exactly the audience you want.
3. Optimize existing content for a few well chosen long tail keywords. Focus on pages that are underperforming. If you change pages that are performing well, you run the risk of losing ranking for those pages.
With niche websites, success is often built on exhaustive coverage of less well known keywords. You don’t have to give up trying to rank for the “big” keywords while pursuing traffic using long tail keywords. Plus, long tail keywords help you target your audience better, and build your site’s reputation as an expert source for your particular trade.
RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions for digital publishers, representing a terrific opportunity for these sites to add value, increase new traffic levels, and maintain existing traffic. A white label job board powered by RealMatch makes a terrific partner in your site’s audience and revenue development strategy.
Photo Credits: Public Domain Picture by Hay Kranen, anekoho / freedigitalphotos.net