What is Long Tail Search?

» Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 in Marketing | 0 comments

What is Long Tail SearchLong Tail Search is a theory of search engine optimization, or, in practical terms, how to get your site to the top of the search results list for your prospects and customers.

Long Tail Search refers to the far end of a search results graph.  My favorite visual is one from Matt Powell’s 2008 article “Chasing the Long Tail” from the blog of Leftclick.com.  The left hand side of the graph, where we see the most volume, is the search volume on generic terms; the “long tail” represent more specific searches that include the generic term.

Let’s use the example, “Dogs.”  The “Tail” section of the graph represents all of the different specific searches that are related to dogs: such as “Non-allergenic dogs” or “Dogs that don’t bark” or “Dog Breeders in New York.”  While each of those searches shows low search volume compared to “Dogs,” the total number of people searching on those specific dog related terms is greater than the total who just type in “Dogs.”  Searchers are increasingly adept at getting right to the information that they need.

Using Long Tail Search to Increase Your Business

Still using our example of “dogs,”  let’s look at a business owner who owns a grooming business in the fictional city of Apple, Wisconsin who wishes to increase the number of prospects finding her via internet search.  While millions of people type in “Dogs,” they want all sorts of different things: information on breeds, research for a school report, pictures for their scrapbooks, etc.  Not all of them are prospects for her business.

Additionally, there is a lot of competition from large companies such as chain pet stores for the search term “Dogs.”  The average business without a huge advertising budget and a full time SEO team is probably not going to get on the first page.

Enter the theory of Long Tail Search, the friend of the internet savvy business.

While more people type in the generic term “Dogs” than type in any other specific search related to dogs, it is both easier and more effective to choose one or several “Long Tail Searches” and focus on getting to the top of the search results for those terms.  Using our example of the dog groomer, we can reason that prospects for her business will be within driving distance of Apple, Wisconsin; will require dog grooming services; and may wish a groomer who specializes in certain types of dog.

The dog groomer therefore reconfigures her website to feature key search words like “Dog groomer Apple Wisconsin” or “Dog groomer Poodle Wisconsin” or “Dog groomer Irish Setter Wisconsin.”  These particular searches do not register very much volume compared to “Dogs” on the chart; but anyone performing these searches is a prospect for the business.  Because these searches show such low (comparative) volume, there is little competition for them, and the chances of the business being able to show up on the first page of search by making some small and inexpensive SEO adjustments is good.

History of Long Tail Search: The Amazon Story

According to this article in Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail  the term “Long Tail” was popularized by author Chris Anderson in an article for Wired Magazine.  In this article, Anderson points to data gathered by Amazon.com showing that the bulk of their profit came from selling books that were not available in brick and mortar stores.  This business came from people searching for very specific titles, rather than people searching generically for “Books.”  Netflix  is another example of a major online retailer  who has successfully built a business around the concept of offering items not easily obtained in brick and mortar stores.

Long Tail search is an important part of SEO strategy, regardless of the size of your business. By focusing on the needs of the few you can really serve as opposed to spending all of your effort chasing the many who may not be interested, you’ll see greater results in shorter time – always a worthwhile goal.

 To learn more about Spalding Barker Strategies, visit our homepage or Contact Us to see how we can help your business.

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