Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Forget the Tail - Focus on the Head for SEM

From the Pen of Amanda Evans - WebMama's Senior Search Consultant:

I was recently asked whether I thought the long tail really existed and I had to chuckle a little bit. You see, I’ve been lured in time and time again by this tantalizing idea - that there’s a missing pot of gold out there equal to the amount generated by my top terms and all I have to do is optimize for it. I’ve spent years trying to achieve this level of optimization – but no matter how efficient my campaigns have been, I’ve never seen a campaign where the sum of the sales of the tail terms equal the sum of the sales of a handful of head terms.

In the majority of campaigns, the top 10% of keywords make up 90-95% of revenue. And in many campaigns, the top 10 keywords (not 10%...just 10) make up 95% of the revenue. The next 3-4% is made up of the next handful and the last 1-2% is made up of tail terms. And so, over the years, I’ve had the good sense to realize that my efforts are best spent optimizing and policing the top 10% of head terms and continually testing other search marketing avenues.

Now don’t misunderstand – if someone types in “hot pink Tinkerbell tank tops” and I sell it, I want to be visible. But I don’t want to spend the majority of my time optimizing for a term that someone may or may not type in. That is precious time that takes my eye off the terms that make up 95% of my revenue.

Instead what I would offer is the following:

  • Spend a proportionate amount of time optimizing for the tail terms. If they make up 5% of your revenue, spend 5% of your time optimizing for them.
  • Rely on the technology created by engines to assist in long tail searches to do the heavy lifting– aka broad match & keyword insertion. (Make sure that any insertions d one are of the highest quality and make grammatical sense.)
  • Ensure that your web site has adequate content so that if someone searches for obscure content, the search engines will find it.
  • Never take your eye off the top terms which make up 95% of your revenue.
  • Keep an eye on the searches done on your site to ensure that a) your head terms aren’t changing and b) that you have the right content represented on your site.

Good luck & Happy Optimizing!

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posted by Barbara 'webmama' Coll @ 8:20 AM     Permanent Link