If you haven’t heard of the “long tail”, the phrase was made famous by a book written by Chris Anderson with the same name. It refers to the statistical graph where the line is skewed to the right without ever reaching zero on the horizontal scale. Essentially, it’s an infinite line.
In Anderson’s book, he explains how the Internet is circumventing every aspect of consumer choice. Before the Internet, consumers didn’t have much choice. We simply took what the media and retailers presented and gave up on our own “custom” desires.
After I read the book, I thought about how the long tail applies to effective search engine rankings and placements.
Below I describe how anyone with a website can make use of the long tail.
Effective Use of Long Tail Terms
Let me describe what it means to use a long tail term. If you’re selling shoes, an obvious keyword that you might want to target is “shoes”. Now, if you’re a small shoe seller, you probably won’t have the time or money it would take to get in the top 10 search results for the term shoes.
But, let’s say that you sell a highly niched type a shoe. Maybe you sell shoes for people who have had leg or knee injuries. Or, maybe you make custom boots for soldiers or cowboys. I know of several people who only buy custom boots so it’s not unheard of.
Rather than trying to hit a highly competitive keyword like shoes, you would want to go after a phrase like “custom cowboy boots” or “shoes for knee injuries”.
You might be thinking that there’s not enough traffic for these terms to bring you any kind of sales. However that’s exactly how the long tail process works. You don’t want a lot of traffic from a single keyword phrase. You want a little traffic from a bunch of smaller, less searched keywords.
To continue my example, if you have a small shoe store, you could search your inventory and note the different types of shoes you have. Or, maybe you could start to diversify into these different types of shoes, especially is you have good wholesalers.
Let’s say one of your keywords brings 100 website visitors per month. Let’s also say that you have a great website, with great copy, and you’re able to convert 5% of your visitors. So, five people will buy per 100 visitors. Of course, you can’t stay in business with only 5 sales per month.
In fact, you may have to sell several hundred pairs of shoes just to break even or make a little profit. But the story doesn’t end there. Now, let’s say you have 10 of those long tail keywords. Each one of those keywords brings in 100 visitors per month. So, now you have 1,000 visitors per month reaching your website. If we leave the same conversion rate, 5%, then these 10 keywords will net you 50 sales per month.
The key to this process is 1) knowing how to niche your products and 2) knowing how to convert your visitors once they’ve made it to your site. It doesn’t make any sense to bring 1,000 people to your website and not be able to convert them into buyers.
So, your goal as a long tail marketer is to snap up as much as the “little” traffic that you can get. You’re not trying to compete with big-box retailers or websites. There’s traffic that large websites don’t get because they don’t sell what people are looking for. That becomes your job.
There are people who are looking for custom shoes, custom boots, or a customized experience. It’s your job to look at what you have to offer and to think beyond the obvious keyword terms. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of keyword niches that very few people are competing for.
As an example, someone mentioned that my daughter looked like her “kewpie doll”. Keep in mind I had no idea what a kewpie doll even looked like. So, I did some research in Google. Come to find out, there are about 5,000 searches on the term kewpie doll per month. Guess what? The number one result for the term kewpie doll is a parked page someone is trying to sell. There is almost ZERO competition for this keyword term. It would be fairly easy to get ranked in the top 10 search results for this term. If I knew how to start a kewpie doll business, I would definitely go for the number one position. With a good website, anyone could convert 10% of the website visitors. That’s a potential of 500 sales per month!
As you can see, combining effective use of long tail keyword phrases with a solid converting website can help you tap into previously untouched markets, unfilled needs, and diversify into thousands of niche areas. Here’s more about long tail keywords…