Long Tail of Search

November 6th, 2008
by Dustin Woodard

Finally some solid evidence showing how long the long tail of search really is! Having worked for some big high-traffic sites, I was always discouraged with the underestimation of the true length of the long tail in other public reports. Finally I did my own research and it was published on the Hitwise blog:

Sizing Up the Long Tail of Search

Long Tail of Search Research

Here’s a sneak peak:

“After great dissatisfaction with the existing research, which I felt vastly understated the true size of the long tail, I decided to do my own research…There‚Äôs so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

Understanding the long tail and how to target it from an SEO standpoint is no simple task. I hope this article sheds some light on how important long tail traffic is.

In my experience, I’ve ranked for head terms and I’ve ranked for millions of tail terms. I’d gladly trade in the head terms for a larger piece of the tail. A few companies have learned this, including the search engines, but they’d prefer you don’t know how much of a gold mine it really is.

Posted in Analytics, Search | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Long Tail of Search”

  1. Adrian Bold Says:

    Hi Dustin

    Thank you for taking the time to carry out this research and publish the results. All good stuff!

  2. JavaJay Says:

    Appreciate seeing much more solid research than the recent music study attempting to squash the long tail theory. The music study was flawed because they counted songs that weren’t purchased instead of studying the songs that were purchased, much like searches that were performed in your study.

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