It’s anything but new.
It’s how people use search engines – they actually don’t generally type in “credit cards” or “shoes” they type in long phrases like “credit cards with free gifts” or “black shoes for sale in Iowa”
You can use it to your advantage in articles, and anchor texts – the technique is to have lots of long-tails – none of them searched for much, but get lots of them and it builds up into useful search volume.
What is the Long Tail of Search?
If youâ€™re relatively new to the business of search engine optimization, you may have heard the term â€œlong tailâ€ being bandied about, often without much of an explanation. You may even have heard people talking about making money on the long tail of search. What is it, and how can it help you?
This term “long tail” actually has a little history behind it. While the earliest use of similar terms dates to March 2003, it really began to strike a chord with SEOs and SEMs in October 2004 with one of those paradigm-changing articles that alters the way everyone looks at things – in this case, the entertainment business (and other businesses by extension, as you’ll see in a moment). The article was written by Chris Anderson, published by Wired, and called “The Long Tail.” Naturally, it has implications way beyond that business, but for our purposes, it works well enough to start there.
After giving an introduction in which he demonstrated how an obscure book that had nearly gone out of print rode to popularity on the coattails of another book that covered a similar topic, Anderson explained the difference between selling physical goods and digital goods that makes the long tail possible. You see, if you own a brick-and-mortar business, there must be enough people living within the appropriate radius of your store who are interested in your goods to keep you in business. So everything you stock must justify its position. That half-inch of shelf space has a price, and if what you’re putting in that space isn’t selling a certain number of copies, you’ll have to put something else there if you want to pay your bills and stay in business.
When you’re in a situation where there’s “not enough room to carry everything for everybody,” as Anderson put it, you end up with “hit-driven economics.” The idea is to attract big, broad audiences to justify the cost. If we want to apply this idea to search, think about those three or four keywords that you figure are going to attract the most traffic to your website. They are usually very broad terms with wide appeal (think of how many sites turn up for the word “dogs,” for example). And think about your chances of getting to the top of that heap.