Long-Tail-of-SearchMost business owners have at least heard of long-tail search, but many aren’t exactly sure what the term means… or more importantly, how they can incorporate long-tail strategies into their internet marketing campaigns. Today, I want to help fill in some of those gaps by explaining the way the long-tail works and telling you how to take advantage of it.

To begin with, the “long tail” refers to search queries (like those entered into Google’s search box) that are very specific or uncommon. If you think of a bell curve distribution, with the most common search phrases in the middle, the long tail is the section that would go off to the right, meaning that the terms there aren’t nearly as high-traffic as the more competitive search phrases found in the fatter part of the graph.

However, just because long-tail searches are relatively low volume doesn’t mean you should ignore them. For one thing, they make up about 20% of all searches, which is a sizable chunk of web traffic. In addition, they don't tend to be as competitive, so you don’t have the same few websites getting all of those visits.

Put those two facts together, and you have the basis for a good addition to your search engine optimization efforts. And the long-tail is getting bigger all the time. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the reasons why:

More Than 10% of Searches Are Unique

More than one out of every 10 searches entered into Google is completely unique, meaning that it’s never been searched before. The world’s largest search engine shared this eye-popping statistic not long ago, and marketers have been fascinated ever since. It says a lot about creativity and specificity but mostly that searchers are looking for very targeted pieces of information and advice (which feeds into long-tail search patterns).

Voice Search Is Making the Long-Tail Bigger

Voice search—found on smart phone and tablet apps, as well as the new version of Windows—encourages long-tail searches by letting users ask direct questions instead of typing in keywords strings (or being influenced by auto-complete entries). As more and more people start using their voices to search the web, expect that long-tail inquiries will continue to grow as a percentage of all search traffic.

Contextual Search Is Emphasizing Long-Tail Trends

More and more, Google is taking things like search history, searcher intent, and website relevance into account when building individualized search result pages. The net effect is that more searches are being treated like long-tail entries, even when the specific keywords being used aren’t specific or original.

So, knowing that the long tail of search is bigger than most people think, and growing all the time, what can you do as a marketer to take advantage? That’s easy; add more original content to your website. The more pages and useful (relevant) content you have, the more likely you are to be considered authoritative by Google, and to have a match for what a long-tail searcher is looking for.


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