What is long-tail search?

I have come across “long tail search” more often at work, especially recently due to the May Update. The long tail concept was first coined by Chris Anderson and are the search words and keyphrases (more than 2 words) which are outside of the top 20 keywords the marketing team normally tracks and focuses on.

In agencies I have worked in, we just reported on just the top 20 terms that the client wanted to rank for. We had to report on the traffic from these keywords as it was assumed it was driving the majority of the traffice. However, despite what people think, most sites get the majority of their traffic from terms that are not tracked. Strange I know, but watch the video from Rand Fishkin about the long tail.

The long tail are the words that have about very few visits per month 0 – 5 queries per month. But it represents 70-75% of the volume of all searches. The queries are more focused and more specific and can lead to higher converting keywords. In the video Rand explains that there was a study that discovered there are 20% unique searches in Google each month.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Ignore the Tail at Your Peril! from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

Unfortunately, there is no keyword research tool to show you the tail or the volume behind the long tail search terms which is one of the reasons why people just stick to the top driving traffic terms. But you should not ignore the long tail. It is easier to rank for long tail words than try and move up within Google for the more competitive and shorter terms.

One thought on “What is long-tail search?

  1. BDO Adams

    The long tail, actually forms the majority your web traffic, word terms tend to follow zipf’s law, Meaning that the nth most popular term has a probablity of occur or 1/n. Integrating that your find, that the most popular terms, are still a minor fraction of the total.

    Webalizer available for free, does show all your the search traffic for your site. Not just the top 20.

    But talk to me if your interested in having a specific stats package written.


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