The Long Tail Of Search – Say What?

March 2, 2017

Most people have a good idea about what SEO is and may even know about how websites target specific keywords, in order to be discovered in the search engine results pages (SERPs). However, have you ever heard of ‘the long tail of search’?

At first it seems a bit of a strange name to describe this technique for competing with SEO, but it will all become clear once I explain what it’s actually all about.

Single or double keyword phrases for example ‘London Cafes’ would be extremely difficult for a website to rank for in the SERPs. This is because they’re generic, highly competitive and there are thousands of websites already trying to target them. When I search for ‘London Cafes’, the top 3 results I get are from Timeout, TripAdvisor and The Telegraph, reckon you could compete with them?

If a new cafe was opened in London then it’s highly unlikely (to say the least) that their website would be able to compete against the influential and established websites you see online. So what can the cafe do to try to get traffic from th SERPs without being lost in the crowd and coming up on page ten instead of one? This is where Long Tail Search come into its own.

Long Tail Search Terms are made up of three or four keyword phrases, which are much more specific than the generic competitive shorter phrases like in the above example. Whenever a potential customer uses a more specific phrase, they tend to be looking for something exact which they already have in mind. An example would be a search term like ‘Dog Friendly Cafes in London’, which is a much more specific search phrase than ‘Cafes in London’ and already denotes that the buying decision has been made – they’re looking to visit a cafe where they can bring their furry friend along.

In virtually every case, such specific search phrases are much more likely to convert from SERPs to sales than the generic competitive searches.

Notice that you’re not seeing as many big boys in these long tail SERP results.

Whether it’s a page or a blog post, Google loves to see fresh and copious amounts of content on your website, so writing lots of content which targets Long Tail Search Terms will also mean Google will bump your website up in the rankings.

You should bear in mind, however, that the downside of focusing on long tail is that if your target phrases are too specific, you might not get much traffic either. Because it’s almost too niche, for example “Dog Friendly London Cafes With Free Treats And A Garden”.

That’s why it’s best to have:

  • A few pages/posts which send you large amounts of less targeted traffic
  • Many pages/posts which each send you smaller amounts of highly targeted traffic

Ok, now you understand the theory behind this you might still be wondering where the ‘Long Tail’ comes in to the name?

The volume of search traffic contained in the long tail on the graph consists of as much if not more (in some cases) than the competitive generic keyword terms. So not only do you get just as much traffic but the traffic you do get will be more interested in what you have to offer, less competitive and less likely to bounce off your website.

So you can compete online after all, you just need to think about all the random different phrases your target market will be Googling and then add content to your website which matches this.

How to research Long Tail Keywords

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