The Evolution of the Search Engine User – How to Get Long Tail Search Engine Traffic


Every year search engine users are getting more and more sophisticated in how they use the search engines. Their searches are getting more detailed so that they can get the most relevant results without needing to browse multiple pages of listings. 

A recent report from Hitwise indicated that one and two word search queries are on the decline. Half of all searches are now 3 or more words long and even 8 word+ searches are becoming common.

What that means to you is that the “long tail” of the search engine is becoming larger while the primary keywords of each niche are getting searched for less and less, which makes them less valuable. 

This is actually a good thing as it gives you more opportunity to capture traffic for searches that have very little competition vs keywords that have thousands of even millions of competing websites.

How To Capture Long Tail Traffic

In 2007, Google’s VP of engineering, Udi Manber said that 20-25% of all queries received by Google are ones they’ve never seen before. Many more are queries that only come up a handful of times each month. 

While each individual query may only be a little bit of traffic, I speak from experience when I say that thousands of key phrases that bring in only a little traffic each month add up when there are enough of them. I once owned a website that was getting traffic from 20,000 unique keywords each month. The top 10 keywords only brought in about 20% of the traffic to the website. And a full 70% of the traffic came from keywords that brought in 10 or less visitors each month.

So how do you go about capturing that content?

Obviously, it isn’t cost or time effective to create a unique page for each of those keywords. In the example I referred to above, we only had about 400 pages of content on the website. So, on average, each page brought in people from 50 different phrases.

The real key to capturing this traffic isn’t the quantity of your content but the quality. For example, we create pages that were 2,000 – 3,000 words long that were clearly written by experts on the topic. They weren’t short little posts written by some person who had no idea what they were writing. 

I know I’ve talked about creating great quality content in other articles, but if you truly want to capture massive amounts of long tail traffic, it’s absolutely essential.

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