The Long Tail – Search Engine Keywords
Some of you know what the Long Tail is and other might have no idea. It basically
follows the 80-20 rule, where 80% of your business comes from the top 20% of your
clients and the remaining 20% of the business comes from 80% (The Long Tail) of your
We are seeing this concept being used more and more after the dawn of the Internet and
this is no random coincidence. So what has changed?
Previously when we just lived in the physical world, it was way to expensive to cater to
the long tail (niche) requirements. The customization required to cater to each need
would be too costly and out weigh the benefits of customization. In addition, there were
others reasons such as capacity constraint, limitations of physical space etc. But there still
existed some industries and some companies, which catered to the long tail as they could
charge a huge premium for it. For example, the automobile industry, where premium car
manufacturers let buyers built their own car.
But all this changed with the arrival of the Internet. No more additional costs for
customization, no capacity or space constraints and no physical world. Catering to the
long tail was financially feasible by online businesses, big or small. Netflix and Amazon
have used this model with great success. Another reason for its popularity was Chris
Anderson article on the concept of The Long Tail in an October 2004 in the “Wired
What else changed? Well, we are getting more accurate information, than ever before,
regarding our customer’s needs. With this a startling realization that the Long Tail is not
long, but is VERY LONG, maybe even endless. Businesses slowly realizing that the sum
of demand in the long tail is equal or sometimes greater than the sum of demand in the
short tail. This has been explained well by Chris Anderson in The 80/20 Rule Revisited.
Now, as an online business start-up how can we take advantage of the long tail concept.
Now-a-days people are putting a lot of their time and energy in figuring out the Long Tail
of Keywords for their business.
These are two ways that website owners, especially people starting a new website, can
use the Long Tail concept to compete more effectively, start getting more traffic and not
spend as much on marketing (eg: Google AdWords)
1. Keyword selection for search engine optimization (SEO) – As most of you would
know that if you are a new website, your site is put in a so called ‘Sand Box’ (which
again is a subject of great debate), in which your site does not appear on search engine
results for high demand (Short Tail) keywords but does appear on the low demand
(Long Tail) keywords. So make sure you have researched well on the long tail
keywords and use them in your site or write a blog on them. Hittail is a website that
might help out in this (gives you suggestions on the long tail keywords that you should
focus on). I have personally not used them, but planning to for my new site, so take
this as a suggestion and not a recommendation.
Following this will ensure that you have traffic to your website from the beginning and
don’t have to wait to get out of the Sand Box to generate traffic.
2. Keyword selection for Google AdWords – In every online business, there are high
demand keywords and low demand keywords. The higher the demand of the keyword,
the higher you’ll have to bid for your ad’s to appear on google searches. For example,
if you have a budget of $10,000 for your marketing spend on sponsored links on
search engine, you will see your self running out of money very quickly if you are just
focused on your top 10 (short tail) keywords.
An alternative is to place ad’s for the Long Tail Keywords where the competition is
relatively less as few people search those phrases every month. Instead of focusing on
your top 10 keywords, which will be highly competitive, focus on the remaining 100
keywords that are not as competitive. This is a time consuming process, but if you are a
start-up and money is scares, this can really get you high ROI.
It is also very interesting to note that short tail keywords are very generic keywords
whereas the long tail keywords are more specific. For example, in the field of dentistry,
the keyword “Dentist” is highly competitive but is a generic keyword. Whereas a more
specific keyword which falls in the long tail such as Dentist in Hungary or Dentist in
Mexico is a less competitive keyword but can get you a more targeted audience if you
are a dentist in Hungary of Mexico.
What I have mentioned above sounds very simple theoretically, but is very time
consuming. Figuring the Long Tail needs of your customer is a very tedious and tiring
job and requires a lot of effort. And remember the long tail is really long.
Have you used the Long Tail business concept in your online business? What has your
Nikhil Lamba, www.ClinicsOfWorld.com