The Long Tail of Search: Are You Ignoring Most of Your Traffic?

What is Long Tail Marketing?

Traditional marketing has tailored to the tastes of the masses. Long tail marketing presents an interesting opportunity as marketers meet the needs of the niche markets. Long-tail search marketing presents an interesting conundrum because the long tail of search is:

  • Voluminous - Long-tail keywords (or less popular, less searched on keyword variations) actually represent more search volume, in aggregate, than more popular keywords.
  • Challenging - The search terms in question represent a lot of traffic, but that traffic is driven by a lot of keywords. Being able to research, group, and manage all those keywords is a difficult (if not impossible) task for the search marketer.
  • Profitable - Long tail searches are generally less competitive, niche, and therefore fulfilling the needs of a unique group with minimum competition can be extremely rewarding.

WordStream offers solutions specially tailored to enable you to capture this long-tail Web traffic without being mired in the potential time-sinks normally associated with targeting the long tail of search.

This page will discuss in greater detail the challenges associated with the long tail, and will describe the methods WordStream employs that allow you to tame the long tail of search.

What is the long tail?

Long-tail search engine marketing refers to the practice of attempting to draw visitors who are searching on infrequent queries to a site. The long tail has a very compelling advantage: it's where most of the traffic lies. The phenomenon was first observed and coined by Chris Anderson, an editor of Wired, when he noticed that the bulk of Amazon's revenues came from a long tail of items, and not a few block-buster items. The long tail theory has since been popularized in his book, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More," and observed in multiple web 2.0 disciplines, including search engine marketing.

Long tail graph

The interesting thing about search's long tail and the way that search queries work, is that the "tail" pictured above goes on indefinitely, and the sum of the frequencies of the lesser searched terms is actually greater than the sum of the frequencies of the more popular terms.

This means that a majority of keyword traffic lies in search's "long tail."

Additionally, long-tail keywords are generally very specific. This can be a real advantage in search marketing, because often more specific, niche key phrases reflect higher buying intent (if one users types "cars" into a search engine versus another who types "2009 Mitsubishi Galant," who is more ready to purchase a car?).

The other side of the long tail story

While long-tail keywords comprise most of the searches entered into Google and other search engines, the "long tail of search" offers some inherent inefficiencies when it comes to search marketing:

  • Too Many Keywords - One issue with search's long tail is that it's so...long. The problem with having a mass of keyword variations is that it becomes difficult to message your way down the tail. Creating ad text, landing pages, and keyword groups to encompass all of these specific keywords is an enormous task.
  • Too Much Junk - While the long tail offers a number of developed, late-in-the-cycle lead opportunities, it also presents a number of search queries that will be completely irrelevant to your business and to your offering.

    Long tail PPC

Leveraging long-tail keywords

The issue, then, becomes finding a way to effectively tap into the long tail of search, without stumbling over the aforementioned pitfalls.

WordStream's organic search engine optimization and pay-per-click software solutions are specifically designed to increase efficiency, and our sophisticated negative keyword tools enable you to harness and monetize long-tail search traffic.

Streamlining the long-tail marketing process

A core challenge in creating campaigns that focus on the long tail of search in PPC is that the process includes:

  • Discovering Relevant Long-Tail Keywords
  • Grouping Keywords into Several Related Ad Groups
  • Weeding Irrelevant Keywords from the Long Tail
  • Writing Targeted Text Ads and Landing Pages for each Ad Group

Fortunately for advertisers, WordStream offers specially designed long-tail marketing solutions.

Traditional keyword research tools offer only what's known as the "head" of the search marketing story. Having access to only the top 100 or so most popular keywords related to your business means the exclusion of a majority of the search traffic, and plenty of the juicier, later-in-the-buying-cycle leads present in the long tail.

WordStream offers a better means of generating extensive long-tail keyword lists, because our keyword tools give you deep access to an enormous database of more than 1 trillion unique search queries. With the Long-Tail Edition of our Keyword Research Suite, you'll get access to even more of those long-tail keywords, so you can compete it highly competitive industries and leverage keywords your competitors won't have access to.

Using WordStream for PPC, our AdWords management platform, you'll also be able to pull real long-tail keyword phrases from your search query reports. In other words, you'll know exactly the keywords that actual visitors have used to find your site, and you'll be able to further leverage those keywords in your campaigns moving forward.

Three key factors to note about the keywords you aggregate by these methods is that they are:

  • Relevant - Longer tail keywords reveal more intent, so it's clear that they're relevant to your business.
  • Perpetually Growing - Because WordStream generates new keyword suggestions regularly, your keyword list is constantly expanding.
  • Actionable - In addition to being dynamic, your keyword list is actionable. You can automatically take action on those keywords in your PPC campaigns.

long-tail keyword grouping

WordStream offers highly sophisticated grouping tools which facilitate the grouping of thousands of keywords quickly and efficiently:

Long-tail marketing for ppc and seo

Our proprietary algorithms can group a huge keyword list in seconds, work that could take hours or days to accomplish manually. Your keyword list is then ready to convert into an effectively organized PPC campaign structure.

Managing long-tail ad groups

In addition to the keyword research and grouping that goes into effectively managing long-tail keywords within in a PPC or affiliate marketing campaign, it is also necessary to eliminate irrelevant keywords from campaigns, and to create targeted ad text and landing pages for various keyword groups.

WordStream offers specific tools to answer these challenges:

  • Negative Keyword Tool - Our Negative Keyword Tool is a unique, proactive way to find negative keywords that could waste your PPC budget.
  • Ad Text Creation Tools - WordStream offers tools which suggest Quality Score friendly, targeted ad text. This will help to lower your costs, while improving conversion rates.

Turn long-tail search terms into a viable business solution

WordStream's suite of search marketing tools are specially tailored to turn search's long tail into a traffic and business driving solution. Learn more by:

Manage Your Long Tail Keywords with WordStream's Software