What's the Long Tail? (And why should you care?)


by Deb

Every now and then on this blog, especially when talking about SEO, we mention the “long tail.”  For someone like me who has been working online for the past decade, this phrase doesn’t get a second glance. For those of you who are new to attracting the attention of search engines, as well as long term listeners, the term may need a little more explanation. So…

What does the “Long Tail” mean for search?

Most of us first read about “the long tail” when Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson introduced it in 2004. For our purposes, the term refers to words and phrases that will reach people in years to come. So perhaps while the Michael Phelps scandal will bring in immediate readers or listeners, it’s safe to say this scandal won’t have the same results several years, or even 30 days from now. Long tail keywords and phrases might not attract high immediate search engine traffic, however, it will continue to bring folks in as time goes by.

When choosing keywords and phrases, it’s fine to live for the moment and ride the traffic or a trend or scandal, however, a smart blogger or podcaster will also consider what folks are searching for in the long term. Find the things that will always interest people. What will we want to know about in the years to come? This may mean we have to choose keywords and search terms that aren’t on the top of the lists of most popular keywords. You know how certain classic styles never go out of fashion? This is the same with search terms. By having a good mix of trendy topics and long tail search terms, you’re ensuring traffic for years to come.

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