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Long Tail Definition



4:32 pm on Nov 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sorry, what is this long tail that everyone's suddenly talking about? Someone please explain!


5:06 pm on Nov 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

In simple terms it is the old 80/20 rule of business renamed to long tail and applied to a keyword list.



7:59 pm on Nov 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This may be the same thing JAG just said, stated differently, or something different. I am not sure since I don't know what the old business 80/20 rule is...

When I use the term "long Tail", I am referring to key word phrases that are long, IE:

fuzzy blue widgets made in ohio
solid green widgets hick county texas

versus the old targeted and highly coveted kw's like:
blue widgets
green widgets

If there is another meaning for "long tail" someone please feel free to correct me, I make no claims implied or warrantied that I know anything about anything.



8:43 pm on Nov 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It's a statistical thing, to do with distribution. Chris Anderson of Wired first used it in relation to the web only a couple of years ago. But the first time I came accross it was in an article written by a mathematician who got cancer, and it really drove home the message and meaning for me.

He was told his that the median time of death with the disease he had was, as I recall, 1 year. Grim news.

But his maths training kicked in - that meant that half the people who got this disease were dead in one year, but it did not mean that the other half died in the second year, they could live any length of time and still remain, statistically, above the median.

He decided he had every chance of being in the 'long tail' and living an indeterminable time. He lived for 16 years, so was right.

In the case of the web, it can mean a number of things. If you have a store, it may mean that half of your sales come from, say, 20 products, but the other half come from the 500 other products you sell. The 500 are part of the long tail.

Or it may be that you get half of your traffic/revenue from about 20 or 30 keywords or phrases, the other half from hundreds of others. Look at your stats - all those keywords or phrases that bring just a few, maybe as low as just one or two, visitors every month. They are part of the long tail.

The long tail can thus be very valuable, but it's much harder to control and manage.


3:38 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

so what your saying is it really doesnt depend on the number of the words in your keyword but the amount of traffic it gets your site?

so it can be something like 'finance' and 'secured loans uk' are short tail key words
but 'i need financial advice' or something similar that some people might use but the frequency is marginal are long tail keywords?

either ways both the last comment and the one before that make sence.


5:27 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yes, that is the essence of it, but I am not sure it depends on the amount of traffic you get, provided you are getting enough to be of some statistical signifigance.

I am looking at the stats for a site right now that has almost 20,000 search engine referrals (serps) this month so far.

Just on 4000 of these come from the top 25 or so search phrases, the remaider come from over 9000 other phrases, some appearing just once or twice. I look on these as the long tail.

The phrases are extremely thinly distributed - quite quickly you get down to phrases sending so little traffic they pretty much don't statistically exist!

BUT the keywords in the long tail are sending about 75% of the traffic here. Many are phrases it would be either impractical, impossible or pointless to optimise for, but the traffic they send it no less valuable.

Plus perusal of the long tail is a REALLY valuable insight into the sort of things people are looking for.


5:35 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Plus perusal of the long tail is a REALLY valuable insight into the sort of things people are looking for.

Not only that, but it also shows the progression of how search has evolved for the user. Searchers are becoming more educated and therefore are refining their queries to be more specific. It's that specific stuff that I consider to be the long tail of search.

Its all that stuff toward the end of your Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery report. The single, double and triple digit stuff. ;)

As the search engine's indexes continue to grow, users will need to utilize more refined queries to narrow down their search results. That's the long tail!


5:10 pm on Dec 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here you can find a good resource explaining the long tail:



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