As we’ve discussed, the internet revolves around keywords and keyphrases – the specific terms users enter into search engines when they’re searching for content. Finding competitive keywords to target on your site is as much a science as it an art, as you need to search for elusive keywords that aren’t too competitive, but still have significant search volume. As the internet becomes more and more competitive, smart web site owners are turning to long tail keywords to generate traffic.

According to, the long tail refers to “a socio-statistical theory which suggests that the collective sales of products in low demand can exceed that of popular products and bestsellers.” In terms of keywords, this means that it’s easier to succeed using longer, less competitive keyword phrases, like “how to establish a home-based vending business”, than it is with more popular keywords, such as “lose weight” or “make money online.” By using long-tail keywords, you’re shooting for the small fish in the pond, while the rest of the marketing community is trolling for the record-breaking bass. The idea of the long tail is summarized in the following graphic:

Long Tail Keywords

At the far left of the graph, we see the most popular products on the marketplace – those that receive the bulk of the traffic and interest on the internet. The amount of traffic for these products quickly levels off as we move right along the graph, but you’ll also notice that the long tail section is much longer than that of the popular product section. The long tail section represents all the traffic coming from longer, more obscure search phrases.

So what does all this mean for you as a site owner? When you’re just getting started, it’s much more difficult to get ranked for popular search terms, given the amount of resources the existing sites have to maintain their rankings. However, it’s entirely within your reach to rank at the top of the search engines for long tail keywords, using a combination of on-site and off-site search engine optimization strategies.

If you rank high for lots of long-tail keywords then you will receive lots of free traffic from the search engines.

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