Chris Anderson popularized the idea of the long tail keyword with his eye opening article in Wired entitled The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.

The overall concept isn’t difficult to wrap your head around; it’s really this idea that the vast majority of searches (and sales) aren’t highly focused on the “big” win keywords such as “shoes” but, in reality, specific selections within each industry, such as “Men’s Blue Nike Running Shoes, Size 6”.

The Long Tail Matters

A visualization of the long tail.

Search engine and social media users, over time, have become educated about effective search strategies. They have moved away from using broad terms toward specific descriptions surrounding their search criteria.

In affiliate marketing, the chance of you landing top rankings for highly competitive terms, such as “Forex”, is almost out of the question because of the marketing budgets of major companies. However, long tail keywords give you an equally optimistic opportunity, in sales, because the specific, often uncompetitive, terms are highly focused and generally carry a “buyer’s mindset”.

The Long Tail: By Example

Mastery of the long tail is, perhaps, best explained through example since the terms and phrases you choose, per your business, will be wildly different than your competitor.

Let’s consider someone searching for information related to “Forex”.

  • Scenario: User does a broad search for “Forex” within Google and gets blasted by Wikipedia articles, brokers, and more. This search may not exactly give them what they want because it’s too broad. The user goes back and searches for “Forex Training”, a term that hits closer to their desires but may still be too broad and not what they want. Then the user lands it, they type in “Forex Training with a $2,000 a month budget” and find a specific article that says everything they had hoped for.

The above example may be difficult to take in but all that’s really happening is that the user is searching via long string phrases and terms rather than broad keywords. The information served to the user, when using long tail keywords and phrases, will almost always be more relevant because search engines (and the content producers) delivered the specific answers to their query.

Long Tail Keywords: How-To

Consider the fact that the majority of purchases, online, come from long tail keyword searches because the queries show highly relevant, valuable results. This probably has you excited so now it’s your turn to get the most from the long tail.

  1. Use your website data and analytics which will give you the entry keywords people search and find your website. Compile a list of phrases longer than three words.
  2. Load up your favorite keyword tool, or using a free one like the Google Keyword Tool, and place in the keywords which show promise. Set the parameters of your search tool to ‘exact’ and dig through the query results to find similar, related long tail search terms.
  3. Compare the competition and offerings for your long tail keywords (Is there a product? Valuable article? Business representing the long tail?). Measure the monthly search volume compared to your conversion rate. Does it seem profitable? Go for it!

Use the basics of keyword research and apply it to longer form phrases and keywords, it’s that simple.

Are you taking advantage of long tail keywords in your affiliate marketing?