Long-Tail Keywords

By James Atkinson, LLB

Keywords in all markets break down into two basic groups:

  • Head Keywords
    Head keywords have high traffic and high competition.Usually these are the obvious keywords for your market. Often, there are just a handful of head keywords in any market.
  • Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords make up the rest of the market. My research and testing indicates that up to 40% of website traffic is derived from “long-tailed keywords”.

Long-tails have low traffic and low competition. There are hundreds of thousands of long tails in most markets. We sometimes call these long-tails “krill keywords” because each individual is tiny but in a large group their mass is enough to feed a whale.

Each long-tail may only drive one or two visitors, but with thousands upon thousands of long-tails in every market, as a group they can drive a much bigger volume of traffic than all the head keywords put together.

Our testing and research also indicate that long-tail keywords tend to bring in “market virgins” who are at the beginning of the buying cycle.

This enables entrepreneurs to capture prospects, begin the persuasion process, and take prospects off the market early in the buying cycle. In effect capturing your customers well before your competitors have a chance to get their message heard.

The good news is that most of your competitors probably do not incorporate long-tails into their PPC and SEO. Why not?

My research indicates that most online marketers don’t get past the first big ten ‘head keywords’ in their market. These are the must-have terms to be found, and marketers obsess about them. The low traffic long-tails don’t look very impressive on their own and usually get ignored.

In PPC, many marketers think broad matching their ads will take care of the long tail. Wrong! Broad matching only picks up a few hundred queries, but the tail has hundreds of thousands.

These keywords are also called “statistically-improbable” and are not found in the normal keyword research. The money-machine effect inures when head keywords beget keywords which in turn lead to more and more relevant keywords.

SEO Tutorial - Keywords > Long-Tails > Themes and Relevancy