This is a tale of tails that include blogs and traffic. You have heard the pitch all over the web.The pitch is the promise of traffic just from writing anything. Implied in that is the lack of a need for any "SEO" because of a magical phenomenon called the long tail.
That ain't workin thats the way you do it
Money for nothin and chicks for free
Dire Straits(not Sting as Jeremy corrected me)
We all love free and free is all over the net. The long tail theory is a phrase that has been co-opted by the blogging and SEO industry to explain non voluminous key phrasing as a possible strategic advantage. It also can produce higher lead conversions if used properly.
Cliff notes on the long tail:
From Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine who like Seth Godin and other web pioneers has flipped common web paradigms on its head. He wrote the infamous Long Tail Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More book. As well as his most recent Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business (try to wrap your arms around this one).
The Long Tail can be thought of as the 80/20 rule or Parettos Law ( I know all these rules. Don't you feel like in school again). Paretto noticed that 20% of the Italians control 80% of the land. That is, a small number of things have a larger impact. In sales 20% of agents do 80% of the sales. This notion permeates across all contexts of nature. Here is a terrific example of the 80/20 rule in sales.
Anderson noticed pre-internet that the brick and mortar stores were limited by the most sought after inventory. An inefficiency in distribution. In other words, Virgin Record Stores could only inventory the most in demand music choices. While niche or less in demand items could not be kept in inventory as their simply was not enough demand to justify the expense of stocking them on the shelves.
Anderson reminds us that the web allows niche songs to be sold because inventory is only stored once and digitally at that! (A newer example of the long tail going wild in music check out my Blip station.) "The Net has infinite shelf space". Thus making it possible for fans of Jazz musician Joshua Redman to purchase music. (never heard heard of him before huh? He has a fan base online that justifies his existence economically).
So the free Google traffic pundits soon co opted the Long Tail idea and applied it to search traffic. The Blogging Industry vendors soon saw this as a great sales pitch and have sold the Long Tail as the fast track to easy traffic. The sales points have centered on little competition means easier (not easy) traffic. That is true of course only if you have lots of pages with these words. And these pages are positioned in the engines.
Easy Real Estate Traffic
First of all lets look at Short and Long Tail as it applies to real estate web sites.
Short Tail keywords could be:
- Torrance Real Estate
- Torrance Realtor
- Torrance Homes
- Torrance Condos
Long Tail keywords could be:
- New Homes in Torrance California by Lemar
- Home For Sale in Walteria Area of Torrance
- Homes For Sale in the 90505 Area of Torrance
- Homes For Sale on Felbar in Torrance, CA
- Home For Sale in the McChenty Elementary School District in Torrance
When searching "Homes For Sale on Felbar in Torrance, CA" in Google two pages of results show up. No competition.
The challenge is that there is no volume either. In other words very few if any people are searching.
So Anderson uses examples of Wallmart as an example of short tail and Rhapsody Music as long tail. But even Rhapsody has very measurable volume for its long tail words. A long, long tail for Rhapsody would be Rhapsody Music Everlong Marty INXS
In real estate the long tail words above simply will not be found on most keyword finder tools. Because truth be told, the local real estate searches are more like long, long tail.
Free Keyword Tools
Where is the Scale or Why the Long Tail Ain't All its Cracked Up to Be In Blogging?
So long as agents are writing or even paying people to write in their blogs then the whole idea of long tail blows up. That is manual labor and is not what Rhapsody is doing. For long tail efficiencies to work we must have scale. Think your IDX.
The long tail theory is important to know in reaction to the cheap storage of the net. But as I have pointed out, the theory does not fit perfectly into most agents business structure. The challenge is to be able to create meaningful content efficiently. So long as you and I write meaningful pieces such as this one (if I may say so myself), then the idea of scale is way off in the distance. Without scale, where is the long tail? In your mind saved for a future post.
Interesting fact: The majority of searches (67%) are made up of one to three keywords. However, 82% of searchers said that they are likely to enter a few more words when they cant find what they are looking for in a search. Phrases of four or more words are often used to deliver the targeted results that most searchers aren't seeing with broader-based search terms. These terms can offer you higher conversion rates at a lower cost per click, so it makes sense to have a stable of long-tail search terms, rather than relying on a few big money, high-volume search terms. Again, if you can achieve scale.