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What Does Long Tail and Short Tail Mean?

[ 0 ] January 27, 2012 |

One of the big buzzwords in today’s market is long tail keywords. “Long Tail” is a term that was initially coined in 2004 in an article by Chris Anderson in Wired magazine. The term was originally used to describe the niche business strategy that is used by companies like Amazon.

Today, marketers are using the term to describe the phenomenon that “long tail keywords” could bring more traffic combined than the broader, more common keywords. For instance, let’s just say that the keyword “freelance writing” gets approximately 2,000 searches per day.

So instead of going after that broad “short tail” keyword, you start looking at the long-tail keyword phrases for that niche – freelance writing online, freelance writing at home, freelance writing careers, and so forth.

When you add up all of those keywords, which are similar (and easier to dominate in the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it actually turns out to be more traffic than if you simply went with freelance writing.

If there are 6,000 websites competing for the term “freelance writing,” but only 500 competing for “freelance writing online.” then you have a far greater chance of reaching the first page than you would if you had to compete against 6,000 pages.

To get ranked number one for a broad term such as “writing” it would probably take you many months of very hard work and a very large budget for buying backlinks to accomplish.

If you were to rank for a term such as “writing your first novel” it might be much easier -because it’s a long tail. If the term gets 100 searches a day, and you rank number 2, then you might get 80 or even 90 hits to your website per day.

However, if you rank 30,000 for the term “writing,” you probably won’t get any traffic from that at all. It’s also important to remember that finding good long tail keywords is essential since you’ll need those long tail phrases to bring in traffic.

And while there are some marketers who will actually not go after long-tail keywords because they think they have to rank well for prime keyword phrases, there are those who are using long tail keywords to reach a demographic that has money in hand.

So would you rather get traffic from those who search for the word “writing” or from someone who types “freelance writing for a living” into Google?

When a person gets more specific with their searches they’re usually someone who’s ready to purchase that product or information – someone who already knows what they’re looking for.

Someone who types in the word writing, may just be looking for stories to read online because they’re bored. It won’t do you any good if your site offers information on freelance writing for a living, but the long tail phrase will cater to that crowd.

So be sure you pick your keywords and phrases with care. And don’t forget to separate your broad, generic short tail terms from your long-tail phrases so that you can watch your Google SERP positioning and see how your keyword list is performing for you.

Choosing the keywords that you want to dominate on the search engines like Google is the first and most important task in developing your marketing plan. You could spend days if not weeks doing your keyword research if you really want to dominate your market.

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