Not really, but did you know there is such a thing as a “Long Tail of search”?  Let me explain…

Long Tail of Search

The term The Long Tail was first coined by Chris Anderson in the October 2004 issue of Wired Magazine.  A definition from SearchEngineLand.com sums it up nicely…

“The Long Tail of search defines the non-competitive, usually 3-5 word, keyphrases that site visitors use to find web sites.”

You can think of it this way… you are looking for a nice French restaurant in Washington, DC.  If you type in the words French Restaurant, you will most likely not get the results you want because you are searching all French Restaurants EVERYWHERE.

However, if you type in the words upscale French Restaurant Washington, DC, chances are much better that your search will yield useful results.

The Long Tail in this example are the words upscale and Washington, DC.  By themselves they don’t have much to do with French dining but when added to the words French Restaurant they act as a filter to weed out the broad search results.

In the first search you can see results for restaurants in Monte Carlo, LA, etc…

http://www.google.com/search?q=french+restaurant&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US215&aq=t

In the second, more descriptive or Long Tail search, you can see much better results…

http://www.google.com/search?q=upscale+French+Restaurant+Washington%2C+DC&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US215

In other words, the Long Tail is the fringe, the things that set you apart from the masses.

How do you use the Long Tail approach in your Search Engine Optimization methods?

Beyond standard search engine optimization, Long Tail strategies take more time and research.  What are the differentiators that set you apart?  Is it location? Price? A niche market of some sort?  These are the differentiators or modifiers that make up your Long Tail.

One of the best ways to determine what these terms are is to analyze your log files.  You can actually see what are the most popular search phrases used to find your site. (Generally your hosting company will offer this information. Wood Street can also help you.)

As you look through your log files you may notice terms that otherwise you would not have considered using in your site optimization.  These terms are what make up your Long Tail.  Let’s use us as an example:

  • Company Name: Wood Street, Inc.
  • General Keyphrases: web design
  • The Long Tail: web design, Washington, dc, associations

You can see how much the descriptors can dramatically change the search parameters.  We work with lots of large associations on various web design projects, many in the Washington, DC area.

By simply typing in web design, this would not satisfy the search needs of a Marketing Director at an Association looking for a web design firm specializing in associations in the Washington, DC area.

In any web outreach effort, the key is to set yourself apart from your competition by learning and capitalizing on what makes you different and ultimately a better fit for your target clients.  Unlike the past, we live in an age where differences can help you succeed.  The Long Tail is just another way to make that happen.

If you have any questions on this topic or any other web related issues, please feel free to contact us at any time, or… Contact us today and let us help you with your web and marketing services.

Derek is Wood Street's SEO and web marketing specialist. With Wood Street since 2003, and a partner, Derek is an expert in web site optimization, Section 508 compliance, web site auditing, and web standards implementation. He provides a wide spectrum of specialty services including web design and development, interactive presentations, and print and graphic design. Derek is an Adobe Certified Dreamweaver Developer and an Adobe Certified Flash designer

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