Day 13: Long-Tail Keywords

Discussing long tail keywords, is a topic that I have been meaning to write about since I started this blog.

But first, before I go into a discussion about what exactly long tail keywords are and how you as an internet marketing can benefit from them, I wanted to test your knowledge with a little quiz!

Out of the four choices below, what option would be considered the most long tail keyword?

(I will share the answer below)

Keyword                                                   Searches Per Month

a.) Internet Marketing                                    1,830,000

b.)  SEO Marketer                                               480

c.) Internet Marketer                                       8,100

d.) Business Internet Marketing Online   49,500

So, what is your guess?  Which option would most likely be considered a long tail keyword?

Instead of just giving you the answer, I wanted to discuss what a long-tail keyword is first.  Then hopefully by the end of the post you will know what the correct answer is, and of course I will tell you as well.

First, where did the phrase “Long Tail” come from?  The answer is it came from an article written by Chris Anderson for Wired Magazine back in 2004.  If you have never read the article, its a must read: The Long Tail.

Chris also went on to write a book by the same title.  I have read the book and can tell you that it is very good not only for internet marketing, but really provides good business knowledge for any venture you might be involved in.

In a nutshell, Chris took a look at how the sale of books and music changes when the internet came along and made titles that were never available in book or music stores due to shelf space; suddenly were available to anyone.  Book stores and music stores had always only focused on the top hits, the best sellers.

However, one of the odd things that was discovered was that all of these deep obscure tracks that were never sold in music stores still had an audience that was interested in them.  Even though they might only sell a few copies a month, or even a year; they still sold.  And because it cost essentially nothing to carry these obscure titles it was still profitable to online stores.  These deep tracks and obscure titles that are only searched for occasionally are the long tail products.

The most fascinating thing about the Long Tail (and particularly for internet marketers I think); is that all of the combined long tail sales often equaled MORE sales than the big hits!  And if you think about it, it makes sense.  While there might only be 10 or so big hits; the long tail catalog of items could be thousands upon thousands or even millions of products long.  So sure, some of these titles might only sell every once in a while, but if you have enough of them, it adds up to a nice profit.

So, in my mind, this applies directly to building small niche websites.  If you have enough of these small sites that target long tail keywords (those keywords that get searched for only a few times), you can build up a niche portfolio of profitable sites.

And this is the whole key to this business.  Long tail keywords usually have less competition and are much easier to rank in the top 10 of Google then the “big hit” keywords are.

So, if you look back at my quiz at the top of this post, which keyword is the long tail keyword?  Hopefully, now you understand that the answer is b – SEO Marketer.  Long Tail keywords have nothing to do with the length of the phrase and everything to do with the number of searches it receives each month.

In other words, a long tail keyword could actually be a one word phrase and a 7 word phrase might not be a long tail keyword; all depending on the number of searches it receives in a month.

Is there a Limited Supply of Long-tail Keywords?

Another thought that often comes up is that we are all racing against each other to find the great domains of all these long tail keywords.  While this is true to some extent, I don’t believe that these long-tail keywords will ever run out.  Here’s why:

According to Udi Manber, Google’s VP of Engineering, during a presentation given back in 2007,

20 to 25% of the queries we see today, we have never seen before

There are other references from Google that state that there are new searches being performed every single day that have never been performed before.  In other words, there will be long tail keywords that exist tomorrow that did not exist today.

Again, this makes perfect sense if you think about it.  We don’t live in a static world and things are constantly changing.  One prime example is new products.  A couple of years ago, there were no searches performed for “iphone”.  That keyword now receives 185,000,000 searches each month globally.  And there are probably about a million related long tail “iphone” keywords that also get searched for millions of times. Apple also just came out with the “ipad”; which is another term that was never searched for before a couple of months ago.

These are just 2 examples, and there are literally millions of different markets, products, lifestyle changes, etc that will pop up as new keywords every single day.

So, while there is tough competition for some domain names; don’t worry!  Just move on to a new market if the one you are looking at is too difficult.

Anyway, this post has turned out much longer than I expected; but understanding what a long-tail keyword is and what it isn’t is critical to being successful at building these Long Tail Websites.

Anyway, please post your thoughts and comments below!

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6 Responses to “Day 13: Long-Tail Keywords”

  1. This was very informative, Spencer. I never though about there being constant, newborn keyword opportunities in that way. As some might whither, there will always be a place for those of us who can find new niches (and perhaps our share of the riches :).

    It’s like mining for gold. When you find one of those nuggets gleaming back at you . . . and then another and another, it really gets the juices flowing.

    • It certainly is like mining for gold in some respects! If you collect enough of these small little nuggets; its enough to keep you going for a long time.

  2. yes! very useful concept here! the long tail keyword will become more powerful when the age of website getting older.

  3. This is a very good explanation of the potential for future Long tails.
    So, the lesson is – keep building sites with quality contents and
    you will add those ‘golden nuggets” over time!


  4. Hi Spencer,

    Your post has been the most clear explanation I’ve read about what a long tail keyword really is.

    This information alone is worth the time following your adsense challenge. But I’m sure there’ll be more golden nuggets (or maybe even a motherlode) of information coming our way.

    Thanks again.

    • Angel: I’m glad the post helped you understand long tail keywords. Being able to truly grasp the power of these long tail keywords is what makes this a viable business. Thanks for the great feedback!