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What is The Long Tail
By S. Housley
What is The Long Tail?
The phrase "The Long Tail" was first used in 2004 by Chris Anderson a writer for
Wired Magazine. Anderson used the phrase to describe business models. The article
initially referencing The Long Tail referred to the fact that a small handful of
blogs have a large number of links pointing to them, while millions of smaller blogs
have only a handful of links. Chris Anderson described the effects of the long tail
on business models and argued that products that are in a low demand can effectively
and collectively make up a market share that exceeds the few of those that are in
While initially the phrase the long tail was used to reference statistical distributions,
like web 2.0 the meaning has been expanded to encompass a marketing mantra.
Capturing The Long Tail
So what is meant by capturing the long tail? Capturing the small volume will result
in a collectively large volume.
Keywords and keyword phrases provide a great example of how the long tail works.
There are a relatively small number of keywords that receive the vast majority of
searches, and additionally there are millions of keywords and keyword phrases that
make up a fraction of Internet searches. So by capturing the keyword long tail an
Internet marketer targets all of the less popular keywords and keyword phrases,
because in mass these less popular keywords are a more significant volume than the
popular keywords and phrases for a specific business sector. Internet marketers
that are able to "capture the long tail" will receive significant traffic. The long
tail includes everything other than the popular terms. The idea is that the total
volume of lower popularity keywords exceeds the volume of high popularity keywords.
While the concept of The Long Tail is fairly simple in nature, it is very difficult
to implement in practice.
Using the same example in order to grab the keyword long tail Internet marketers
need to locate and optimize for keyword neighborhoods. Large online businesses like
eBay and Amazon that contain user generated content tend to have an easier time
of capturing the long tail. It can be a challenge for smaller online companies.
Generally speaking user generated content like that found in forums and blogs, tend
to be helpful when optimizing for the keyword long tail. There is no substitute
for magnitude and while capturing the keyword tail will help any business increase
traffic, it is important to not forget that tip to tail is ideal.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing,
publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage
a wireless text messaging software company.
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