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Old 09-29-2007   #1
vayapues
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Long Tail - A Case Study

Many are familiar with the long tail, and how important it is. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some real numbers. These numbers come from the KidsKnowIt Network. (http://www.KidsKnowIt.com)

----

First a definition of the long tail, for those who are not familiar with this term.

There are just a hand full of terms that will bring your website thousands of visitors. However, there are thousands of search terms that will bring just one or two visitors each month. If you can optimize your website to do well on the long tail, you are better off than trying to compete on the main terms, which are far more competitive.

Research has also suggested that people searching on the long tail are more likely to buy. Which makes sense. If you search the term ”Piano”, you are probably just doing research about any number of things relating to pianos, and not looking to buy. If you search ”Baldwin Player Pianos” you are much more likely to be looking to buy. Thousands search for ”Piano” each day. Far fewer for the more specific search. As a piano dealer, I could put a lot of resources into trying to do well in the search term ”Piano”, with little pay off, but could more wisely be putting my efforts into coming up on the thousands of smaller search terms that will have a higher return.

----

Now, on to the numbers:

In September, so far, we have been found in roughly 35,000 online search terms.

For the term ”Solar System” we were found by nearly 15,000 people, our most successful search term.
”Solar System” is a very competitive term. It takes a lot of energy to do well there, and yet it only yields 15,000 visitors in an entire month.

The first 23 search terms yielded more than 1,000 visitors each. They are: solar system, ocean, space, astronomy, solar system for kids, astronomy for kids, tundra, nitrogen cycle, kids astronomy, atmosphere, stars, math for kids, the solar system, food chain, comets, dinosaurs for kids, kidsastronomy, landforms for kids, space pictures, www.kidsastronomy.com, lakes, geography for kids, and carbon cycle.

All together they yielded roughly 70,000 visitors.

The next 244 search terms yielded 100 or more visitors each. All together, these 244 search terms yielded slightly more than 60,000 visitors.

The next 1,606 search terms yielded 10 or more visitors each. All together these 1,606 search terms yielded 43,148 visitors.

The final 32,447 search terms yielded fewer than ten visitors each. Yet all together they brought in 54,486 visitors.

search terms like ”working on body websites for kids”, ”what does geography means”, and ”play free math games and studying games” only yielded one visitor each. Yet combined, all the terms that brought in one visitor each yielded 22,252 visitors.

These numbers bring clarity to our marketing strategies. If we spent all our time working on the first 23 search terms, ignoring the rest, we would loose a great deal of our search engine traffic. In fact, we would loose 69% of our search engine traffic. In otherwords, only 31% of our traffic comes from the main search terms, while 69% comes from the long tail.

One more comment that I want to make about search engine traffic. Search engines are not everything. All together, we only got 224,325 visitors off of search engines. That is less than 1% of our total traffic. Most of our traffic comes from other places. Anyone putting all the hopes on search is missing 99% of the traffic that they could be building. The rest comes from other marketing efforts, quotes in published works such as books, software, magazines, as well as news casts, word of mouth, inbound links, billboards, commercials, etc.
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Old 10-11-2007   #2
africapic
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Thanks for the post...

It was really informative.

I am in a similar place...I have just been trying to optimise for long tail expressions, but not sure how to do it best.

I would really appreciate some of your advice on how I could best benefit from the long tail. Thanks.

My site is www(dot)africapic.com

Alex
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Old 10-11-2007   #3
vayapues
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Beautiful photography. Whoever is taking them is quite talented.

The best thing to do, is to write as much as possible. You can anticipate many of the terms people will search for, but it is difficult to anticipate them all.

Never stuff a page full of random terms. This looks bad, and tends to lower your conversion. Instead, identify the words you want to target, and then incorporate them into actual articles that are useful to your users.

The more you write, the more likely you will be to come up in searches. Each of our sites have well over 100,000 words spread out across hundreds of articles.

Pick a topic for each article. Name your page 'my-topic.htm', or use .htaccess to achieve the same affect. use dashes, and not underscores. Also put the topic name in your title.

Name your images based on your keywords, as well as synonyms to your keywords, and place alt text on them accordingly.

But the number one piece of advice I will give you is to write, frequently, and in great quantity. If you don't have time, then hire someone who can write for you.

As far as what to write about, I can't help you there. You have a difficult niche. You could write detailed info about each photograph, but I don't think it would bring in the traffic you are looking for.

On a side note, I would also look into bidding on long tail terms via adwords, msn, etc. These terms are usually pretty cheap.
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Old 10-12-2007   #4
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Great info, vayapues -- thanks for posting.
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Old 10-12-2007   #5
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Excellent info. Thanks for the post.
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Old 10-12-2007   #6
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

There is also a book by Chris Anderson called The Long Tail, it is well worth the read!
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Old 10-16-2007   #7
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

This is true for most of my clients and I believe setting your strategy on the long tail is also better in for the long term as you don't have to worry about the daily fluctuation of rankings on a handful of competitive terms that are bringing in all the revenue. Much better to have a big base to your income pyramid
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Old 10-22-2007   #8
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

To the person that asked how you optimize to take advantage of this, I can let you know what we do:

1) Use the free program from GoodKeywords.com or another service to find all the keywords and phrases that relate to your site.

2) Use as many of them as possible in your title tags, description tags, and content. BUT, make sure that all of your content is "good English" and is written to "sell" what each page is about.

Having good English usage is important and provides the limiting factor to make sure you don't overdo it. It also means you don't have to worry about "keyword density", since proper English should never be greater than any limits, real or imaginary.

A side benefit from optimizing your site like this is you don't have to keep changing things unless your content changes.
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Old 10-23-2007   #9
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

I recently consulted on a new E-commerce build with over 150,000 products. The site already gets a phenomenal number of visitors and sales from very niche long tail keywords due to it being optimised from the homepage all the way down to each product.

Many sites concentrate solely on the the big traffic category type keywords meaning sales from organic SEO come slowly for the first 6 months. The sheer number of targeted (I'm nearly ready to buy) long tail searches available out there can provide almost instant traffic once Google has spidered your site and completely negate the early organic SEO sales void while your working on the bit traffic terms.

Like a scorpion, the claws look nasty but never under-estimate the tail. (Man I want that on my headstone :P)

SEOMalc.
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Old 10-23-2007   #10
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Interesting thread about the long tail.I've read every post.

I catch the theory...but am somehow struggling to see how to integrate that into my scenario.

I have a photography website. I have tried to optimise each page according to the photo title provided by the photographer. I"m hoping this will catch the long tail traffic. i.e. instead of cheetah i have "cheetah walking". This is my understanding so far of the long tail.

But, I am not getting any traffic from the long tail. What am I doing wrong? Any advice on how to apply this theory to my site?

Writing articles doesn't quite apply...if you've come to my site you want to see pictures, rather than text...text makes you want to go away... this is my conundrum.

My site is www(dot)africapic.com

Any ideas? I don't have a spending budget yet..I'm 24...and spent a lot of my savings on this project. As soon as I get some sales, I'll invest that back into the project. :-) So I really appreciate everyone's advice here.

Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by vayapues View Post
Beautiful photography. Whoever is taking them is quite talented.

The best thing to do, is to write as much as possible. You can anticipate many of the terms people will search for, but it is difficult to anticipate them all.

Never stuff a page full of random terms. This looks bad, and tends to lower your conversion. Instead, identify the words you want to target, and then incorporate them into actual articles that are useful to your users.

The more you write, the more likely you will be to come up in searches. Each of our sites have well over 100,000 words spread out across hundreds of articles.

Pick a topic for each article. Name your page 'my-topic.htm', or use .htaccess to achieve the same affect. use dashes, and not underscores. Also put the topic name in your title.

Name your images based on your keywords, as well as synonyms to your keywords, and place alt text on them accordingly.

But the number one piece of advice I will give you is to write, frequently, and in great quantity. If you don't have time, then hire someone who can write for you.

As far as what to write about, I can't help you there. You have a difficult niche. You could write detailed info about each photograph, but I don't think it would bring in the traffic you are looking for.

On a side note, I would also look into bidding on long tail terms via adwords, msn, etc. These terms are usually pretty cheap.
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Old 10-23-2007   #11
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Re: Long Tail - A Case Study

Africapic,

Your story is the one I always here from photographers, and while I do understand, you need to add as much text as you can. Just put under your photos. Let people see the photos first and then those that are interested can look and find a description or story about the photo. That won't bother anyone but will help your site to be found and can help to "sell" your photos.

I'm looking at a photo of an elephant and when I hold the mouse over the photo the words "Beautiful Pictures" shows up from teh ALT tag. You need to change this to be a few words about the photo, like in this case "Very Male Elephant Africa" might be good. This will be crrucial for you, since it will help your photos to be found in image searches like Google's.

The other places you need to get descriptive text is in the page title tags and description tags. Since your stie is dynamic(database-driven" you may need to get some help to set this up, but it will make a HUGE difference in how your site gets found. Ok, I found a photo of a lion that has some of this, so you have done some of what you need already.
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