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The Difference Between a Long and Short Tail

Traffic Generation Club

Long tail is a big buzzword in marketing these days. The term “Long Tail” was initially coined in 2004 by Chris Anderson in an article in Wired magazine. The term was initially used to describe the niche business strategy that is used by companies like Amazon.

Marketers are now using the term to describe the phenomenon that “long tail keywords” could get more traffic combined than the broader, more general keywords. For example, let’s say the keyword “dog training” gets approximately 2,420 searches per day.

Then you start looking at the long-tail keyword phrases for that niche – dog training collars, dog potty training, dog training careers, and so on. When you add up all of the long-tail keywords, which are easier to dominate in the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it equals more traffic than if you simply went after Dog Training.

If you have 10,000,000 websites competing for the term “dog training,” but only 361,000 competing for “dog training DVD,” then you have a far greater chance of reaching the first page than you would if you were competing against 10 million pages.

Being ranked number one for a broad term like “mp3” would probably take a truly exceptional SEO expert many months of very hard work and a very large budget for buying backlinks to accomplish.

Ranking for a term like “1970s rock mp3s” might be much easier – because it’s a long tail. If the term gets 50 searches per day, and you rank number three, then you might get 20 or 30 hits to your website per day.

If you rank number 30,714 for the term “mp3,” you won’t get any traffic from that at all. Finding good long tail keywords is very important, because you need those long tail phrases to bring in traffic.

While some marketers shun long-tail keywords, believing they have to rank well for the prime keyword phrases, others are using it to reach a demographic that has money in hand. Would you rather get traffic from people searching the word “golf” or from someone who types this into Google: “Taylor Made R580XD Titanium Driver?”

The person who gets more specific with their searches is usually someone who’s ready to buy – someone who knows what they want. The person typing in golf may want to know its history for a project, might want to take a golf vacation, or could be interested in attending a local tournament. That won’t do you any good if your site sells golf clubs, but the long tail phrase will cater to that crowd.

Pick your keywords and phrases carefully. Separate your broad, generic terms from your long-tail phrases so that you can monitor your Google SERP positioning and see how your keyword list is performing for you.

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