The Concept of Long Tail in the SEO Process
Most of the time, many businesses that rely on online sales arrive at a certain point where their managing staff feels that something is missing. They are under the impression that things are going well, but that they can go even better.
But what exactly is missing, escapes most of them. Still, there are a handful of managers that are stubborn enough to want to dig deeper and find out what else they could do to improve their businesses. That's where long tail marketing comes into the spotlight. This is a chance to make the business better known by people, and a chance to attract more prospects, and therefore, obtain more conversions.
The "Long Tail" – A Definition
The term "Long Tail" was coined by Chris Anderson in one of his articles from 2004. The long tail theory is based on the belief according to which the top 20% of the sales of a particular business represents only a small portion of the available market. This percentage is placed at the head of the demand curve, and it is rather small compared to the quite large number of niches "trailing" behind it.
This theory relies on the fact that, while most businesses mainly focus on the products/services that can be considered "hits" or "best-sellers", there are so many niches that remain uncovered. This concept was created in order to open the eyes of e-tailers towards the immense opportunity of attracting and transforming more prospects into customers.
The Importance of Long Tail Searches
Taking into account that the existence of the Internet has reduced considerably the need for physical stores, it is possible nowadays to reach markets that otherwise would be intangible. Products that are not as well known as mainstream ones can ultimately prove as attractive (if not more) as the ones that usually maintain the ROI high enough to make a business profitable.
E-tailers that usually optimize for the most searched keywords will find out eventually that a great portion of their prospective market is overlooked in the process. Therefore, it is good that the long search tail be not neglected. The keyword long tail must be also exploited. There's a gold mine out there waiting to be prospected.
Long tail keywords are not as competitive as those keywords that Web sites are usually optimized for, so they stand a better chance of ranking high and directing highly specialized traffic towards your site. Less competition in search engines means increased opportunities for you and your business. Usually, the conversion rate for long tail keywords is significantly higher than for other "main" keyword on your site.
Benefits of Optimizing for Long Tail Search
More and more businesses aim for long tail optimization. This practice ensures, most of the time, that products / services that are usually left aside by common searches can now become available. Also, taking into account that long tail marketing focuses on customization and treating each and every customer differently, according to their exact needs, it has become obvious that long tail search optimization is a "must" in terms of increasing the ROI.
Most of the traffic on any site comes from searches of terms that are the least optimized for. It is common sense then to apply good SEO techniques to such terms in order to acquire more and more relevant traffic. You will be surprised to see, if you conduct some research, what keywords Web surfers have used to find your site.
Several Techniques Used on Long Tail
If you go "chasing" the long tail, it is good to keep in mind that most of the techniques used for "regular" SEO also apply to long tail SEO, but with small differences. Among these specific techniques, we can include:
- Using keywords combinations
If, for "regular" SEO, keywords come in groups of maximum 3, when you're optimizing for long tail, it's good practice to go even further (even five or six keywords). The more specific you get by extending the keyphrase, the greater your chances to get targeted traffic to your Web site.
- Devising good site maps
Try to make your Web site accessible. Go for the "3 clicks" rule. To help you do this, put a site map in place. Make it accessible for both users and search spiders.
- Writing keyword rich content
Make sure you use a variety of keywords on every page of your Web site. But do try to make your copy sound as natural as possible. No matter how good your intentions are, it is never good to exaggerate with keywords.
- Using as many external links as possible
Check that your links point to specific items on your Web site. The keywords contained in the anchor texts will help you rank for those terms.
- Creating content-rich pages
Make sure that the pages that you create and optimize have good content that will get indexed and attract more visitors / prospects.
- Being as specific as possible
One good solution to acquire increased traffic is to make sure that any give visitor will understand who you are, what you do and what you offer irrespective of the landing page.
A good example for capturing the long tail of search is www.HSN.com 's case, an online retailer for various products, ranging from jewelry to electronics and health products. They noticed that the amount of pages indexed by Google was only a small fraction of what they wanted (and thought) it to be. Their traffic came only from several brand-related keywords. Still, there were some long tail keywords that also generated traffic, but it was a small, almost insignificant percentage.
The challenge for them was to devise a strategy through which they could attract more traffic to their Web site via such long tail terms and thus get more pages indexed. Instead of going back to the basics and actually rebuilding the whole Web site, they chose a "ready-made" solution that helped them achieve fabulous results. This solution was a hosted, natural search proxy optimization technology that made new pages and links crawlable automatically.
The newly visible and crawlable pages that could be indexed by search engines due to the visibility of the long tail keywords had lead to a significant increase in percentage points of the search results based on unbranded keywords.
The application of the long tail concept in SEO allows businesses to treat any prospective customer as an individual by offering highly customized products. Considerable effort is necessary to make this approach profitable, as well as quite thorough knowledge of online marketing techniques with report to the behavior of online shoppers.
The outcome of such a practice is significant, since the relevant traffic will increase dramatically. Optimizing for long tail will allow you to lure unseen prospects out of their hiding places, and will help you set foot on previously uncharted (for you) territories. Targeting the long tail keywords in your SEO process might ultimately lead you on the way to success. In short, long tail optimization is about making everything available for everybody.
Read also Avinash Kaushik's article: How Thick is Your Head and How Long is Your Tail?