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Customers Who Search In Specificity = Long Tail ROI

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Savvy marketers zero in on the “long tail” of online marketing by seeking out and targeting customers interested in exactly what a product has to offer. Marketing to search queries comprised of extra defining words, the result is often greater strategic and cost-effective search marketing campaigns.

This SES San Jose 2008 session explored the concept of long tail from a tactical standpoint, focused on strategies to increase sales and pump ROI. PPC Rockstar and Search Engine Watch columnist David Szetela moderated today’s fascinating panel. I met David at SMX Advanced, scored a cool t-shirt from his booth and quickly ascertained that I was interacting with a true heavyweight of paid search.

Long Tail of SearchThe first speaker Mary Bowling is the lead Hospitality SEO specialist for Blizzard Internet Marketing. Her topic was the “Very Long Tail of Local Search” and got straight to the point.

She defined the “Long Tail” as “Any search made with the intent of finding something in a specific geographical location, seeking info online with intention of completing information online.”

For many businesses all search is local search. 30-40% of all searches are made with local intent…and search engines are totally committed to delivering local and hyper-local results.

The long tail of local search is usually comprised of possible keyword permutations that could be used to search for the same thing (lots of different possibilities). Long tail traffic is relatively cheap to target for PPC & for the most part easy to rank for in organic search. Traffic can really add up and is generally highly targeted.

Optimization for the long tail is relatively easy…create a new page and link to it with the keyword term or add a relevant term to the title and text of an existing page or place term on relevant page that already has good PR, or create optimized pages called Services, Service Area etc. where you can list many long tail terms.

Very targeted traffic can add up fast for businesses. Blogs are great for generating long tail traffic…quick and easy to create, get spidered quickly and optimization is easy. Use local tail terms in local business listings to attain extremely powerful results. Cash in on attributes in Google Maps as an intigral part of optimizing your business listing.

The next speaker was Brock Purpura, CEO of Etology, a global ad-exchange network. He gave us his corporate background and then started an earnest discussion regarding the dynamics of “Long Tail.” “Long Tail exists under the second tier of websites.” Long tail sites are frequently dependent on AdSense & other comparable revenue models to monotize traffic . The CPM for long tail sites is way lower than Tier 2 sites.

The volume of long tail websites exceed the volume of top-tier sites which means you can hit your performance metrics at a fraction of the cost by advertising with the long tail sites.

His Takeaway Suggestions:

  • Build your own Micro-Vertical Network.
  • Test small and lock-in big.
  • Use custom ad sizes…be creative.
  • Build up relationships & trust (e.g. prepay, get publisher to reference you).

Aaron Shear is a partner at Boost Search Marketing, a company that does enterprise-level SEO consulting. He is also a Search Engine Watch Columnist

Traffic Breakdown: Head; Fat Tail (middle) and Long Tail. Lots of bounces on “head searches”, whereby Fat Tail & Long Tail have fewer bounces (and especially with the long tail), lots more volume.

Common problems with Long Tail: Overly descriptive product names; Use a shorter name? Will there be enough information for a user to understand what the page is about? Page titles should be precise and what the user is searching for. Use your logs to determine what phrases should be in the right pages (and automate the process).

Increasing the tail (Related Keywords- Product Pages; Related Searches). How many terms should be targeted per page? At least 5…perhaps up to 20 at a top level. 5 to 20 per category. 5 to 10 per attribute or facet. Make sure that the links to the words are repeated on appropriate pages through out the site.

Having a hard time getting indexed? Consider using a comparison shopping engine to supplement traffic. They are highly tuned to drive long tail traffic. Also, study your affiliates to see what they are doing to drive traffic to their sites.

Optimal traffic mix: 90% of your traffic should be from tail terms…otherwise, you are leaving money on the table.

Stephan Spencer is president of NetConcepts, a SEO / eCommerce full-service agency.

Stephan has an awesome presentation that he’s skipping through quickly and skipping over parts of it. I highly recommend you download his powerpoint and study it closely because Stephan is one of the smartest guys in the biz.

Presentation Highlights:

  • SEO Tactics & Metrics from the Long Tail (Scalable tactics).
  • Page yield theory…nearly 40 unbranded searches for every brand search (for dynamic sites nearly 100 searches for every brand search).
  • Freeloaders: On average 80% of pages getting crawled drive no search traffic. This means you have an opportunity for performance that isn’t being utilized.
  • Phrases per page: good metric (broader in appeal). Example: Took review content for a product, parsed javascript, inserted back into page in HTML text.
  • Visitors per phrase. Iterative testing & measurement. Only use strategies & tactics if you can test and measure the results. Can’t just quantify effects on sales alone. Incorporate new KPI’s in order to view the whole channel more holistically.
  • “Thin Slicing” (from Malcolm Gladwell): Make quick decisions, don’t overthink. Need to be an expert in order to “Thin Slice”. Don’t obsess and don’t be perfect. Change titles, optimize internal linking structure, optimize pagination (don’t have too many pages). Tagging: very important.
  • If you’ve reached the end of this post and you still haven’t downloaded Stephan’s PPT, DO IT NOW!!!

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide.

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4 Comments

  1. streko on August 19, 2008 at 10:22 am

    the picture of the dogs tail made me lol.

  2. MikeMarshall on August 20, 2008 at 2:20 am

    Man Marty, your Army of Bloggers is quite impressive.

    Great thread Todd, I learned here.

    Regarding this thread – Long Tail is the only way you should be bidding in my humble opinion. Aside from ROI, I’m talking about relevant Traffic. I like to know exactly who is calling and why, and have it pertain to my offerings. And I hate wasting Clicks and Man hours taking irrelevant calls. Oh yeah, I am call focused.

  3. Marty Weintraub on August 21, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Thanks Mike, They’re doing a great job!

  4. Marty Weintraub on August 21, 2008 at 4:59 am

    @Streko: I’m glad you like the tail dude!

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