If you are a web based retailer, keyword research is essential.  Using tools like Wordtracker are phenomenal ways to understand your industry and what people are actually searing for.  But if you are interested in driving more traffic and more sales to your site, then it is all about the long tail!  Yes, head phrases of the search vertical are sexy and can bring in tons of traffic, but they are also the most competitive by far and don’t compose anywhere close to the majority of searches on the internet.

Let me put it this way, Dustin Woodard performed an investigation and found this out:

“It turns out that, at least in this particular three-month data set, the top 100 terms accounted for just 5.7 percent of all search traffic.  Expand to the top 500, 1000, and 10000 terms, and just 8.9 percent, 10.6 percent, and 18.5 percent of all search traffic is involved, respectively.

This means if you had a monopoly over the top 1,000 search terms across all search engines (which is impossible), you’d still be missing out on 89.4% of all search traffic.  There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend.  To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

That’s one long lizard’s tail.  So, to neglect the long tail, you’d have to be crazy!  Here are 2 more great reasons why you should target the long tail:

  1. Low Cost.  Low Risk.  – long tail phrases are less competitive and therefore are less costly to capture
  2. High Conversion Rates – the more specific a long tail phrase, the more likely the searcher is ready to buy.  Think of a man looking for “men’s shoes”.  Now think of that same man searching for “men’s Nike red running shoes”.  This guy knows what he wants and if you bring him into your site, you may win the sale.

Here’s a great chart to illustrate:

Long Tail Traffic Benefits

Long Tail Traffic Benefits

Now, the most pressing questions is, “how do I capture long tail phrases?”  Here are a few ideas on where to start from Marketplace Earth:

  1. Page Titles – When you sculpt your Meta Titles, don’t simply stop at the head phrases.  Use variations of your keywords to drive long tail traffic.
  2. Product Descriptions – This is a huge element.  Take the time to craft unique product descriptions.  It will pay off!  Train your cataloguers to use Wordtracker and other search tools and use variations of the keyword when writing the descriptions.  If at all possible, get this content on your key, category landing pages in the form of short or small descriptions.
  3. Blog – This is a simple way to get more and diverse text content on your site.  The search engines will eat it up, and you’ll have more chances to drive the long tail.

Moral to the story, don’t neglect the long tail!  It’s a powerful force and will help you bring in more traffic and sales to your business.