SEO and The Long Tail

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “The Long Tail“, the Chris Anderson book that has become kind of the bible of niche marketing. In his book, Mr. Anderson describes how the blockbuster is quickly becoming a thing of the past as technology (the internet) is allowing businesses to focus or essentially hone in on formerly underserved markets.

Case in point is the music industry. In the old days (10 or so years ago), a band would release an album, the record company would promote it, hopefully radio stations would start playing it and once demand was there, record stores would stock the album. It had to be this way because (brick and mortar) record stores, have very limited shelf space. They simply can’t afford to stock very many albums, since only the records that receive radio air play sell more then a copy or two, that’s all the record stores can afford to stock.

Fast forward to the 21st century, when high speed internet connections and ipods rule, the entire music industry changed. Now, virtual stores (websites) like itunes can stock an almost unlimited inventory of music. A digital album doesn’t take up shelf space, it takes up a few million bytes of super cheap disk space and it can be delivered to the customer’s computer/ipod in a few seconds over the high speed internet connection. Today, music lovers can search through millions of songs many produced by completely unknown artists – with no record label, and without any radio airplay and they can buy what they like, when they want to.

The economics of owning a “record store” have now shifted, from only being able to stock a very limited number of titles to being able to stock anything that is or can be saved to a digital format. This makes it economically feasible -in fact highly profitable, to stock titles that may only sell one or two copies per year, simply because there are just so many of them.

So what does all this have to do with SEO?

A lot when you think about it. First anyone who has owned a website for any length of time and has reviewed their websites log files will tell you that a large number of hits they get from search engines come from some pretty unpredictable search terms.

As an example, here are a few actual search terms that one of my sites received traffic for recently.

“car accidents on wantagh parkway nov. 30 2016”

“cool places to go to go out and long island”

“newsday articles babylon official write about li pilots”

Do you think I tried to optimize for any of these terms? Do you think I could even come close to thinking up any of these terms? Of course not, these terms are simply natural results of the content that I post to this site. This site happens to be about Long Island and these search terms are essentially the long tail search terms of my content. These long tail terms also happen to be much more focused then you would normally SEO for, these are kind of the niches of the niche.

So how do you “SEO” for something that is essentially a happy accident? That’s coming in Anatomy of a revolution – SEO And the Long Tail (Part Two).

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