A Long Tail Keyword – How Valuable Is It Anyway?

Keyword Research Jun 4, 2006

So how valuable is a long tail keyword, anyway? What we’re talking about is picking a topic that you know will produce better for you, if only you addressed it head-on. In this case, it’s the notion of a long tail keyword. To answer that, let’s first look at the keyword traffic distribution on your site. How much traffic are your top-10 producing keywords accounting for? Well, for the three sites I’m personally monitoring with HitTail: the Connors site, my personal Mike-Levin.com site, and the HitTail site itself, the distribution looks like this…

Top ten keywords are 53.8 % of all your search traffic.
Long tail keywords are 46.2 % of all your search traffic.

Top ten keywords are 12.2 % of all your search traffic.
Long tail keywords are 87.8 % of all your search traffic.

Top ten keywords are 12.6 % of all your search traffic.
Long tail keywords are 87.4 % of all your search traffic

So, for Mike-Levin.com and Connors.com, two very long-established sites, it’s almost identical. For the relative newcomer, HitTail.com, which was established only this January, it’s almost a 50/50 split. Using the “Top-10” producing keywords is somewhat arbitrary. It’s just that it serves as a perfect benchmark and basis for comparing multiple sites.

I don’t have enough data yet to know these splits are representative of new sites versus old sites. But I’m going to guess, yes. It only makes sense. A brand new site can and will only be able to get a toe-hold, by definition on fewer keywords. On the first hit, the distribution will actually look 100% vs. 0%. Then, it will journey on its way to some more healthy split between top-producing keywords, and the long tail.

Is it worth putting a whole new page on your website or blog just to pick up the one or two hits per month that may occur on that topic? Is it worth building the long tail? Where does the rule of diminishing returns kick in, and say “Stop, already! Will adding that one more really make a difference? Can’t I stop already, and call the site done?”

The answer is no, never… not if you want to be competitive.

That’s right, never. So long as you’re adding valuable content to your readers, such as this post, then you know you’re going to proportionally increase your natural search hit traffic by that one little bit. Would Amazon.com say no to carrying one more book in their inventory, because they don’t think that one sale would make a difference? No, it’s contrary to their business model and mission! Similarly, a truly competitive natural long tail keyword optimizer would never say no to a search hit of a potentially qualified customer that they know, almost for certain, that they will get by adding that one more page.

This is a different business than the outsourcing of keyword combination derivation that’s done for PPC. For those not familiar, that’s where you brainstorm keywords, used suggestion tools to get even more keywords, then hire low-cost labor to do every combination possible for plugging into pay-per-click campaigns.

The HitTail method in comparison has strategy, science and style behind it. It’s fun. It’s the next great game in the evolving field of marketing. Writing for SEO should be nothing like that Wall Street Journal writer’s experience, encountering slime-ball plagiarizers ripping off copy from the W.H.O. Instead, every one of your words should be original and from your heart. It’s like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” but for marketers. The subject matter can be ludicrous, but the skits are always funny.

Well, the HitTail suggested topics can be all over the place, but you the marketer get to choose only the ones that make sense for your audience. Then, you play “whose line is it anyway” to inform, educate or entertain, and compete for the finite amount of daily traffic that occurs each day on that long tail keyword…

…or else, your competition will.

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