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OPLIN 4cast #341: Heads or tails

Posted in 4cast

heads-tailsPeople who use Internet searches to place products in front of potential buyers pay a lot of attention to how the rest of us use search engines. These marketers often refer to two types of searches: Head searches that are general keyword searches of less than three words; and long tail searches using a specific phrase or several words. How website developers handle head and/or long tail searches will affect the placement of their websites in search engine results. While libraries may not be as interested as marketers are in landing their websites high in a list of search results, the whole head-tail discussion of Internet searching illuminates one way search results can be manipulated.

  • The resurgence of long-tail keywords in SEO (Search Engine Watch/Jayson DeMers) “Essentially, long-tail keywords are less popular keywords because they have less search volume and less competition to rank for. Consider the following two examples: ‘home remedies for bed bugs’ or ‘how to get rid of depression.’ These are each considered long-tail keywords as compared to trying to rank for the much more competitive search terms ‘bed bugs’ or ‘depression’.”
  • Long-tail keywords: The power of small volume search phrases (Mainstreethost/Kris Dietz) “Targeting these lesser-searched long-tail phrases can be a huge advantage. Start targeting phrases that see a smaller volume of searches. Low-volume long-tail phrases are far easier to rank in since the larger websites don’t focus their attention on them. Take the search phrase ‘where to get used books’ for example. It was only searched a handful of times, so ranking high on that phrase is a viable and realistic strategy.”
  • The hidden value of long tail keywords for SEO (Small Business Trends/David Wallace) “Seeing that over 70% of all search queries are for these long tail key phrases, there can be incredible value in having great visibility for the phrases that are relevant to your business model. Targeting long tail keyword phrases in your SEO strategy can be an incredibly powerful technique for building up ones organic search engine traffic. Research suggests that long tail keywords are easier to rank for, bring in more combined traffic, and convert more visitors to customers than the more popular ‘generic’ keywords.”
  • Google has a problem with “long-tail” searches, and it needs Quora to help fix it (GigaOM/Narendra Reddy) “Unlike Wikipedia, which is best at answering head queries, Quora is all about long tail. So integrating Quora with search would provide Google’s users more reliable and useful results for long tail queries. It would also contribute to a virtuous cycle by allowing users to help produce reliable content, too, as searches prompt further contextual content that may need answering. This will help Google get knowledge from content sources (such as those who contribute to Wikipedia) who do not own a website but have valuable knowledge.”

Conversion fact:
While about 1 out of every 10 head searches results in a conversion – the searcher visits the website and takes some action beyond a casual view – about 1 out of 4 long tail searches results in a conversion.