Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Long Tail Buzz

Chris Anderson set the world on fire with his book ‘The Long Tail’ (I recommend it for reading). Now it seems the Long Tail has been applied to strategy all over the marketing universe from product to SEO.

I won’t pretend to explain Long Tail as it was enough to fill an entire book. The basic concept is that if you look at your sales, you will see a tail that starts with the highest sales down to the smaller sales. This graph from Wikipedia will help to explain:

From the chart you can see that a small number of products, services or customers can account for the largest amount of sales (Often referred to as 80/20 rule). However, Anderson realized that by offering a larger number of products and selling less of more without a major increase in cost, certain Internet companies such as ITunes, Amazon, and EBay were successful against the more established brick and mortar veterans.

Since this time the Long Tail has been applied in many places, often successfully. I still believe there are several industries where a long tail business model could make an impact, but that is a story for another time.

The term Long Tail seems to have its own long tail. Marketers are looking for Long Tail marketing programs that can deliver increased results. The major area that the Long Tail buzz has gotten its fuel is with SEO.

Research shows that a few keywords drive the largest percentage of traffic to your site. The issue many marketers face is that is becoming harder and likely more expensive to own these words whether organically or paid, especially if you are just starting out.

The long tail of SEO is the words or phrases beyond the nost popular for your company. The question is does it make sense to invest time and resources into these less popular keywords or devote to the few that drive the traffic.

Join the discussion by submitting your comments or topics to the AMA Pittsburgh blog.

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