What is the Long Tail?
“The Long Tail” (a proper known with capital letters) is a concept created by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine, in an October 2004 article. He pointed out that businesses are becoming successful on the Internet by selling less of more — that is, catering to niche markets. This is different than the brick-and-mortar approaches of the past, which offered fewer products that were more popular. His argument is that as a market evolves, it tends to become both larger in total and more tilted towards niche products. The way this looks on a graph comparing popularity and quantity of a product sold gave it the name “The Long Tail”. Aside from the concept, the “Long Tail” also refers to the group of people who demand niche products. The Long Tail concept can be applied to free goods as well, such as blogs, where a few thousand get most of the incoming links and traffic and there are millions with just a few. Since its proposal, the concept of The Long Tail has proven fertile f
Long tail search engine marketing refers to the practice of attempting to draw visitors who are searching on infrequent queries to a site. The long tail has a very compelling advantage: it’s where most of the traffic lies. The interesting thing about search’s long tail and the way that search queries work, is that the “tail” pictured above goes on indefinitely, and the sum of the frequencies of the lesser searched terms is actually greater than the sum of the frequencies of the more popular terms. This means that a majority of traffic lies in search’s “long tail”. Additionally, long tail keywords are generally very specific. This can be a real advantage in search marketing, because often more specific key phrases reflect higher buying intent (if one users types “cars” into a search engine versus another who types “2009 Mitsubishi Galant”, who is more ready to purchase a car?).
The Long Tail is the transition from a hit-focused marketplace to a millions of niches marketplace. While the majority of profits previously were made by selling a handful of products (the hits) to a lot of people, now millions of products are being sold to smaller amounts of people based on niches. Yes that’s right – it’s niche marketing in it’s purest form, although it goes beyond merely setting up content sites to attract niche traffic and make a quick buck from it – we are talking about a general economic transition brought about by an opening up of distribution channels creating a near-frictionless and abundant source of product variety. The Long Tail exists because in certain industries supply and demand have (finally) come to a point where supply is no longer limited by how much shelf space there is, how much it costs to manufacture, transport, store and deliver a product. The product is now “virtually” abundant and produced at such a low cost that business no longer has to plac