SEM and the long tail by deafeningbuzz


									SEM and the long tail

Imagine walking into your local bookshop, to be confronted with a vast array of shelves containing every item that has ever been published, from the
works Shakespeare to local newspapers such as the London Paper and the London Lite.
In the real world this is impossible, but in the online world such a degree of choice is available. Websites such as Amazon provide an immense variety
of books that classical 'bricks and mortar' bookshops can only dream about. This phenomenon is replicated in the world of music and video by
websites such as iTunes and Netflix.

What Does the long tail mean?

If you graphed the sales of all the products available online, starting with the bestsellers and moving down to the low-sellers, you would see that a
small number of products at the left of the graph sell very well, but as you move to the right, the line dips down until sales begin to approach zero.
This graph is known as a long-tailed graph, because while the number of products selling well (the Head) is very short, the graph of all the products
selling in small quantities is very, very long. This is the Long Tail: and what is happening in this part of the graph is remarkable.

Binning the traditional Pareto approach

In the classic 'bricks and mortar' shopping environment, the focus has always been on high-selling items: the hits, the bestsellers and the blockbusters.

The prevailing law known as the Pareto effect or Pareto’s law has been that 80% of all the profits arise from just 20% of the goods available - the
so-called '80/20 Rule'. Poor-selling goods are too costly to store and are therefore ruthlessly purged from the shelves.
The reason for this is pure economics. Low-selling products take up expensive shelf-space and can quickly become unprofitable unless they sell in
large numbers. The result for consumers is very limited choice, blandness and lowest-common-denominator offerings that appeal to a broad mass of
people, but are not suited for the unique tastes and preferences of each individual.

The emerging importance of the long tail

In the online world however, it is possible to offer up a vast array of products even if they sell in very small numbers. Customers can use powerful
search tools to sift through this vast range in order to find exactly what they are looking for. What happens is that when a wide choice of products is
available, consumers gravitate away from the Head down into the Tail. They seek out products that are more customised to their own individual needs.
A thriving market develops for niche items that would never have been apparent in marketplaces rooted in the real world. This movement away from
the Head looks set to increase over the coming years.

As customers are migrating towards the tail, small online producers avail of minimal distribution costs to sell their products, so the Long Tail is getting
longer as well as fatter. The total market in the Tail is becoming much larger than in the past. Not only is it large, but very profitable too.

The Age of the Niche

With the Internet and the development of the Long Tail, the age of the niche has arrived. This points to a longer-term fragmentation of society, where
people are defined less by their geography than by their interests and values. Authority figures have limited impact, news media has less influence,
micro-celebrities become more prevalent and mass-advertising becomes less effective. Good or bad, the Long Tail idea gives us an insight into the
way the world is beginning to change.

The long tail and search engine marketing / SEO and PPC

Understanding the importance of the long tail impacts on search engine marketing in 2 key areas
1) Keyword research;
Keywords that may have been ignored as being too niche are now being looked at as an increasingly important part of any keyword strategy. Ongoing
keyword research is esential for sustainable SEO
2) On page optimisation;
On page content must reflect this research and be built into your websites content in a user friendly way
About the Author
This has been produced by the SEO department at For any SEO services or resources please visit our site.To stay informed about
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