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What is Long Tail and Why Should I Care?

August 29 2011

If you've read anything about SEO or online marketing, you may have heard the phrase "long tail." It's been somewhat of a buzz word for years now in the SEO world. If you're reading this, chances are you are not very familiar with this phrase. If you want more targeted traffic to your website, continue reading.

What is long tail?
Long tail keywords are very specific. It's probably easier to explain with an example than to define what it is.

Think of how the buying process works. Lets use a Rolex watch for example. When someone is first thinking about buying a Rolex, their search query might be "Rolex watches." You can imagine how competitive this term is to rank for. After searching for "Rolex watches" the user learns about all the various types of Rolex watches there are. They see the Submariner, and really like it. Now they start searching for "Rolex Submariner." After researching the Submariner, they realize how much a new Submariner costs and know its out of their price range. Now their search query changes to "Used Rolex Submariner." Now they begin to see prices that are within their range. They then search "Used Rolex Submariner Atlanta GA" because they are ready to go out to their local jeweler and pick one up.

The long tail keyword in all this would be "Used Rolex Submariner Atlanta GA." This keyword is very specific. This is long tail.

Is it good?
Yes! If you were in the Rolex business, trying to compete with keywords like "Rolex" is going to be very difficult. Getting traction for broad keywords like that take a lot of time and money. Keywords like "Used Rolex Submariner Atlanta GA" is not very competitive so getting traction for this is MUCH easier.

So what does this mean exactly? Lets go back to the buying process. People searching for "Rolex Watches" are in the research phase. As the search query gets longer and more focused, the visitor moves further along in the buying process. Someone searching "Used Rolex Submariner Atlanta GA" has done their research and is now ready to buy. THAT'S the visitor you want!

Sure, "Rolex Watches" gets a LOT more searches than "Used Rolex Submariner Atlanta GA," but why spend all that effort for traffic that is less likely to convert?

Now lets relate this to real estate. A prospective buyer searches "Atlanta Real Estate." Chances are they are in the beginning stages of their home buying search.

The prospective buyer that searches "Homes for Sale in Ansely Park" has done their homework and has really narrowed down where they want to buy. A lead from this search would be considered "hot" where as the more vague one may not be.

OK, I'm sold, how do I implement?
This is easy, content! Start by making a list of some of the areas/neighborhoods you would like to get leads for. Then simply write original articles about each area/neighborhood and add them to your website.

Long tail keywords are often not very competitive, so simply adding a well written article to your website that is about 500 words long will often be enough to earn good placement in the search engine results.

Long tail keywords do not get much search volume, but if you create a lot of pages around different long tail phrases, you should be on your way to getting more targeted traffic and higher qualified leads.