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The Long Tail of Search: It's the Little Words that Count

November 2007

"At Google's Universal Search announcement, Udi Manber put up a slide that stated that 20% to 25% of the search queries Google sees every day are search queries it has never seen before. Let that sink in for a moment." – Matt Bailey, Search Engine Guide.

Long tail keywords are terms which are less popular, so less competitive, but when used consistently over-time, they can be responsible for driving significant levels of website traffic, equal to that of the most popular, competitive keywords.

Long-tail phrases are multi-phrase search queries used by visitors to find your website. These seemingly less-valuable words are much more targeted than general or main keywords and they are more representative of buyers nearing the purchase stage of their buying process.

What Long Tail Can Do For You:

  1. Buyers arriving at your site as the result of a multi-phrase search term have been shown to have higher conversion rates. That is, they are more likely to buy your products, download your whitepaper, subscribe to your newsletter, or call your 800 number.

  2. Long tail key phases are easier to rank and will lead more traffic to your site.

  3. The benefit of using long tail keywords in your search engine marketing is the reduced cost per lead with a higher conversion rate. This is true for both pay-per-click marketing and organic search. Getting top rank for low volume search phrases is much easier to accomplish than competing with large corporations for top rank on general terms. 

Here’s An Example: 

Search on Google for the general keyword “cereal.” As you would expect, Kellogg, Target, Kraft Foods, Life Cereal at at the top of a list of 20,800,000 entries. High Volume, Very competitive.

On the other hand, search on the long tail phrase, "nutritional breakfast options," and the results are,, and at the top of a list of 223,000 entries. Low Volume, Less competitive.

The idea about long-tail is this: The sum of the searches on all the low volume terms = the sum of the traffic on all the high volume terms.

That is, you can get a ton of traffic to your site in a competitive market without ever ranking highly for the most sought-after terms. That's why there’s all the buzz about the long tail. How do you chase the long tail? 

Finding Long Tails:

  1. Write in-depth articles with informational content in your areas of expertise. This provides you access to long tail terms simply through the natural combination of words that the search engine will extract from your articles.

  2. Implement pages targeted on different terms. The trick with this approach is to make the pages different from each other, so they are not viewed as spam by Google.

  3. Pay attention to the search terms that people use to find your site, and use those terms in your keywords, by placing them in title tags and headers of relevant pages.

  4. Look at tracking programs like and Both require that you have snippets of code inserted into your web files. Call us if you would like to have us do this for you.


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