Lucy Griffiths

Understanding the Scale of Long Tail Searches

12th Nov 2008 SEO Blog 1 minute to read

US based SEO consultant, Dustin Woodard, has just published a guest blog post over at Hitwise, the Internet research company.

In his article, “Sizing up the Long Tail of Search” he highlights the gulf between the top search terms when compared to overall search volume.

Naturally, he used Hitwise for his research and in September of this year reviewed the previous three months data for the US. He discovered that, in this period, 14 million search terms had been tracked and then exported the top 10,000 searches.

Clearly the chart is of little value other than to highlight the extreme tail-off (pun intended), bearing in mind this is just reflecting the top 10,000 search terms.

Long Tail Dominates Search Traffic

In his article, he goes on to show the result of narrowing his search to the top 100. He concludes that the top 100 terms account for 5.7% of total search traffic and even extending to the top 1,000 searches would only be responsible for approximately 10% of searches. The point here is that there’s 90% of all search traffic in the long tail; you could argue even more depending on where you believe the tail starts.

As a site owner or online marketer, you should be aware of the value of long tail searches and find ways to capitalise on this traffic. It may be tempting to go after ‘golden goose’ search terms but you need to be realistic with your aspirations given the competitive landscape of the Internet.

SEO Advantages of Long Tail

Towards the end of 2007 it was established that, for the first time, the average search was made up off four words. As searchers become ever more ‘net savvy’, searches will continue to become more precise and you should try and accommodate this in your marketing efforts. From an SEO point of view, that means performing keyword research and, rather than simply ignoring the perceived low volume terms, find ways to blend the relevant terms into your web copy, blog posts and articles.

As part of our SEO copywriting services, we research long tail keywords and take these into account when creating new copy. This can provide a boost to your site’s traffic that is not short-lived and likely to suffer from swings in the search rankings for ultra-competitive terms.

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