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Old 8th July 2011, 02:37 PM   #1
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Question Are Long Tail Keyphrases A Thing Of The Past?

It was said that Google has started making sure that long tail keywords do not affect search results, that is to say, that the results are based more on relevant content and less on long tail optimization. Have the recent updates enforced that? How are the long tail password optimizations working now? Shall I go with 4-5 word long tails for my new affiliate campaigns? (sorry if it sounds like a noob question).

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Old 9th July 2011, 09:02 AM   #2
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Default Long Tail Misunderstood By Most

Most people misunderstand the meaning of a "long tail". The phrase has been misused by lots of people to refer to long keyword phrases consisting of many words.

In actual fact, the term "long tail" derives from an article that appeared in Wired magazine circa 2003, in which the author (I can't remember his name...Eric something, I think) described in very densely technical detail how the tendency on the web is for buyers to buy large amounts of items that don't sell well, "large" because there are so many of such items, so the overall sales numbers taken as a whole are large, even though each individual item's sales remain low. Given the fact that there are huge numbers of such items in all branches of product selling, and given the extremely low cost of offering such items via a web site, it becomes profitable to sell thousands of items in small quantities. The "long tail" part of the concept refers to what happens when you graph sales of items by overall category. You end up with a long curve that shows diminishing numbers of sales for low-demand items, but it also shows that there tons of them. Hence, the shape of the curve produces a "long tail", thus earning the concept it's name.

One example often given of a company that has capitalized on this "long tail" tendency online is Amazon. I don't remember the exact numbers, but a huge percentage of Amazon's sales, perhaps 35-40% of them, are of books, cds, dvds, etc. that only sell a copy or two every few months, or even just a copy or two every year.

This idea led SEO folks to argue that you should target so-called "long tail" keywords, suggesting that the low competition for any given keyword will make it easier to dominate sales of that keyword. Notice how the SEO folks changed the concept to suit their needs. The original concept was simply based on what happens when you offer large numbers of items that all have low sales volume individually, while the SEO folks emphasized targeting low volume items, which isn't the same thing because they DON'T generally recommend selling hundreds or thousands of such "long tail" items. They simply emphasize "long tail" in relation to keywords and leave it at that.

Unfortunately, it also led SEO folks to engage in wild, feverish speculations about how to "optimize" for long tails and that Google will reward (or punish, depending upon the SEO Expert's point of view) such optimization. In actual fact, all Google has ever done is adjust their algorithms so that they are able to present the maximum amount of information about all products offered on the 'net. Some may remember the famous "Florida" update from a number of years back which knocked huge numbers of SEO expert's web sites out of the rankings. It wasn't that Google was targeting the experts. Rather, the experts had optimized for categories of products on their sites, and the "Florida" update shifted the algorithm to place more emphasis on the actual individual product item pages themselves.

What the Wired article predicted has proven to be true. I've seen reports of studies done since then that suggest that the "long tail" tendency has even increased since then. But as you can see, the whole notion of "long tail" optimization has really been a misnomer from the start. Instead, what you need to do is to make sure you are targeting the range of products in such a way that each of the product pages on your site is optimized for that particular product's keyword(s), no matter whether they're "long tail" or not.

I hope this helps!


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Old 9th July 2011, 01:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sanity Check View Post
Most people misunderstand the meaning of a "long tail". The phrase has been misused by lots of people to refer to long keyword phrases consisting of many words. ....

SNIP

....
I hope this helps!
@Sanity Check Whew that's awful lot of info to digest lol.

Anyways, what I get from all this is that it is better to keep out focus on the primary topic at hand and weave articles around the topic using the possible synonyms etc... so if I am writing about "definitive cure for XXX", I go about writing an informative piece and use the phrases "cure for XXX", "guaranteed treatment for XXX", "XXX remedies that work" a number of times. Around the the time of Panda update, I heard a lot about Google beginning to use "shingles" for searching....

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Old 9th July 2011, 03:28 PM   #4
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Sanity Check... thank you, thank you! That is great info and I really appreciate you taking the time to detail that.

As for 3Aces, I strongly suggest that you quick trying to chase what Google is doing. Look at it this way. Google could care less about YOU and your website. Google's 'customer' as it were... is the SEARCH CUSTOMER. That means, their efforts are directed SOLELY at giving or serving the BEST INFORMATION that is relative to the person's search phrase.

I have a website that was established in 2004. It started out about 700 html page... because it was written in html.. and not a 'shopping cart' system. So each product was it's own page.

Now... every product had about 150-250 word description of what it did, why it was needed and how or what it could be used with. I had countless pages in the top 10 of Google for a variety of terms. In some cases... depending on the search term, I came up 2 or 3 times. Yes!

Now fast forward to 2011, I no longer sell the products so about 300 pages had been deleted. However, there are countless pages of content and help. I have done NOTHING to the site since it started... sort of moved on to other matters. But the digital info remains and continues to sell... and sell very well. The site STILL comes up in top 1-5 on Google... depending on the specific search term. But... that's all without doing anything... nothing.

Having said that, I do know that countless people in forums, etc. have linked to the site because they FOUND THE INFORMATION HELPFUL. Others have linked to it from their websites.

I can only tell you that if you try to chase the algo's, you will spend your life doing that. If you build a solid INFORMATIVE website with lots of well written content... you will win every time. Its not instant... but is SURVIVES!

Hope this helps! Good luck!

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Old 9th July 2011, 04:54 PM   #5
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@Sanity Check Whew that's awful lot of info to digest lol.
I know what you mean. Believe it or not, that's the simplified version of the story. Wikipedia has the more complex and complete story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail

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Sanity Check... thank you, thank you! That is great info and I really appreciate you taking the time to detail that.
You're welcome! Actually, I messed up. The guy who wrote the Wired article was Chris Anderson, according to Wikipedia. Oh well!

I didn't find the Wikipedia article directory on my own. I was referred to it by an e-book written by Dan Thies a couple of years ago, which I remembered when I saw 3Aces' post. Dan is one of the very, very, very few SEO Experts who truly deserves that label, IMHO.

By the way, I liked your story about your old e-com site that still does so well. I have to admit, I've only recently begun to realize that this overall route is the better way to go. I've wasted a lot of time over the years chasing backlinks and so on. I'm thinking of trying a "follow me" experiment, where I would do something similar to what you did, but do it all publicly, sharing every step of the way what I'm doing, so that others could see and learn from what I do. Plus, I could use the bucks!

Any ideas what product(s) I might consider focusing on? I'd like to find a product line that's developed but not totally saturated and which I can do on an affiliate or referral basis rather than actually handling inventory. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear 'em!


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Old 9th July 2011, 11:39 PM   #6
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Hi Sanity Check... ahhhh.. that old e-com site. Yes... a fond memory. I remember starting out (sorry... don't want to bore anyone) with an investment of $7.50 in a magazine about starting your website. I was really a newbie.

Up until then, I had a couple of sites, but had no idea of how to actually create them. I had a couple of products and they started to sell, even though they were on sites I didn't particularly like and I didn't create.

When I started, I think I had a total annual investment of about $1,100. That included hosting and (what I consider the most important part) the subscription to 1AutomationWiz which supplied autoresponder, affiliate program and shopping cart with a fully automated system for delivering digital downloads.

Now all this is old hat now... and it's no big deal... but I was alone in the forest and really didn't have anyone who I could talk to that could help (did that bring a tear to your eye?).

Anyway, the idea was that if in the FIRST YEAR, the site could sell $1 more then the costs, I would consider it a success. Uh... it shot into 5 digit sales.. the very first year.

After that... is was all fine tuning and testing with twists on marketing, etc. I started very early using StatCounter.com where I could track all the leads and visits. I knew quickly that most of the traffic was coming from search. It took about 6 months to get up there... and from that point on... it's been a breeze.

Since then, I have sold eBooks and other information products to countless auto service techs, companies that are organizing their own training, countless downloads to US Military locations around the world... and even technical schools AROUND THE WORLD. All of them with excellent feedback. (uh... maybe I should have started telling you that a lot of my time was spent actually developing and deploying training programs in my own local market. I wasn't a guru.. .but I did sell a lot of training)

So you have to start with a good, solid product that delivers MORE then expected. From there... it's a matter of providing all the information about WHAT the visitor needs to do. Then you sell them the HOW.

I am not sure what you have in mind, but I would like to kick this around a little. I may have some time/thoughts/ideas that we could share and maybe do this as a project together. Not sure....

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Old 10th July 2011, 07:13 AM   #7
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Hi Sanity Check... ahhhh.. that old e-com site. Yes... a fond memory. I remember starting out (sorry... don't want to bore anyone) with an investment of $7.50 in a magazine about starting your website. I was really a newbie.

Up until then, I had a couple of sites, but had no idea of how to actually create them. I had a couple of products and they started to sell, even though they were on sites I didn't particularly like and I didn't create.

When I started, I think I had a total annual investment of about $1,100. That included hosting and (what I consider the most important part) the subscription to 1AutomationWiz which supplied autoresponder, affiliate program and shopping cart with a fully automated system for delivering digital downloads.

Now all this is old hat now... and it's no big deal... but I was alone in the forest and really didn't have anyone who I could talk to that could help (did that bring a tear to your eye?).

Anyway, the idea was that if in the FIRST YEAR, the site could sell $1 more then the costs, I would consider it a success. Uh... it shot into 5 digit sales.. the very first year.

After that... is was all fine tuning and testing with twists on marketing, etc. I started very early using StatCounter.com where I could track all the leads and visits. I knew quickly that most of the traffic was coming from search. It took about 6 months to get up there... and from that point on... it's been a breeze.

Since then, I have sold eBooks and other information products to countless auto service techs, companies that are organizing their own training, countless downloads to US Military locations around the world... and even technical schools AROUND THE WORLD. All of them with excellent feedback. (uh... maybe I should have started telling you that a lot of my time was spent actually developing and deploying training programs in my own local market. I wasn't a guru.. .but I did sell a lot of training)

So you have to start with a good, solid product that delivers MORE then expected. From there... it's a matter of providing all the information about WHAT the visitor needs to do. Then you sell them the HOW.

I am not sure what you have in mind, but I would like to kick this around a little. I may have some time/thoughts/ideas that we could share and maybe do this as a project together. Not sure....
Watch out, BeTheBest, you're becoming maudlin!

Seriously though, I can't honestly say that I have any particular kind of product in mind. I've got an Amazon Associates account that I don't do much with, so I suppose I could put together a site featuring a bunch of their products while trying to write totally unique pages about each of them that are completely different from what Amazon's own pages say. The referral fees (4-8.5%) aren't exactly mouth-watering, but still, it's one possibility.

I guess mainly what I want to do is to demonstrate the concepts we've been discussing here, and to do it in a very public way, to show that you don't have to worry about whether your keywords are long-tail, that you can succeed without trying to build backlinks, and that you can succeed without buying advertising or marketing of any kind. I'd write about what I was doing from one of my established sites in a blog-like format, at the same time that I actually develop the new site itself. So one site would document what is happening with the other.

In other words, the idea is to build a site that features some product line(s), write a bunch of unique content, link it up well, optimize the pages for appropriate keywords, etc. The most important things I would NOT do are to attempt to build backlinks directly, to focus on a small handful of keywords, or to spend a ton of money.

I'd also create a Facebook page and perhaps a couple of 2.0 pages such as Squidoo and Hubpages, post updates here on Small Business Brief and on a handful of both white-hat and black-hat forums, and maybe set up a Twitter account. Then use these social media simply as a vehicle to announce what's going on with the main project. That would be the total extent of my marketing efforts.

As I said, I would engage in no backlink building of any kind and show that this approach is actually effective, by example, while inter-linking the pages of the site instead to achieve the same effect that back-linkers hope to achieve. In other words, the idea is to use content to build the site and build the reputation of the site internally to its maximum potential and to show others, both newbies and experienced marketers alike, that the approach actually works.

One idea I've had that I'd like to implement in such a plan, particularly if I focus on offering some of the more popular consumer lines, is to do product descriptions based on research I'd do into what buyers have said in the comments section of Amazon, Best Buy, Sears, and other such sites. In other words, introduce a new layer of "honesty in advertising" by telling shoppers at my site both the bad and the good about what end-users have actually said about these products. So, instead of writing hype copy for each item, the item descriptions would read more like reviews from Consumer Reports. If done right, I have a feeling this could give my site a rather unusual reason for visitors to return to the site.

And as I said in my earlier post, I really would prefer not to handle inventory, so it needs to be something like an affiliate program or a referral program where I can earn something for having developed the sale. In a sense, my website would be like an online salesman working on commission.

Another thing I would do is to reveal budgets, sales reports, cash flow, etc. every step of the way. This would obviously be quite daring, since it's one of those things that "just aren't done". Most of the "follow me" type projects I've seen keep some aspect of the project hidden, most often because they don't want a competitor to copy what they're doing and push them out of the rankings. But if one of the points of this is to show others how it really works, I figure why not actually show them? Sure, it's a risk, but it might also provide another way to attract visitors. "Hey, did you hear about that nut-case who not only is trying to build a site without backlinking, but he's also opened up his books to the public? What an idiot! He'll be out of business in a week!!!" Maybe I'm just being masochistic, but wouldn't it be cool if such a site worked anyway? I think it would encourage a lot of self-described experts to re-think what they think they already know.

I'm still just brainstorming here, but the audacity of the thing intrigues me. What do you think? Feedback welcome!


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Old 11th July 2011, 01:48 AM   #8
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Biggest problem... is now you have opened up a huge list of possible projects. You really got me thinking.

One thing... have you considered putting this to a timeline? I mean... consider it a 3 month or 6 month project??? Not that it has to end there... but to showcase what can be achieved in 2,4,6 months or more?? If you reveal cash/profit and put a 'time factor' to the project (how much time per day/week or whatever) over the big time period... it would show people that it's not instant and that it actually takes SOME work.

Other thoughts??? What about charging a subscription for actually seeing the progress. This is an online school... one that you work on and show the results (good or bad) to share everything with those who are interested.

As an alternative... maybe a certain amount of the info is free. The real nitty gritty is what subscribers pay for.

One other thought... there is a possibility (and I am thinking out loud here... because I have NOT approached the people that own this forum) but there may be some support available here. Maybe a section that posts/questions about the project can be posted. Just a thought.

Overall, I think it's a great idea. I am not sure if you are looking for support/praise or a partner. But the entire project is certainly doable and (I think) would be PERFECT for those starting or trying to better develop their own sites.

Also... (sorry... thoughts keep jumping in here) if there was a supporting section of the forum, you could take suggestions or questions for people following. Not trying to make it a huge free-for-all, but a way to follow the development and ask questions. Like I said... more thinking out loud here.

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Old 11th July 2011, 08:17 AM   #9
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Biggest problem... is now you have opened up a huge list of possible projects. You really got me thinking.

One thing... have you considered putting this to a timeline? I mean... consider it a 3 month or 6 month project??? Not that it has to end there... but to showcase what can be achieved in 2,4,6 months or more?? If you reveal cash/profit and put a 'time factor' to the project (how much time per day/week or whatever) over the big time period... it would show people that it's not instant and that it actually takes SOME work.

Other thoughts??? What about charging a subscription for actually seeing the progress. This is an online school... one that you work on and show the results (good or bad) to share everything with those who are interested.

As an alternative... maybe a certain amount of the info is free. The real nitty gritty is what subscribers pay for.

One other thought... there is a possibility (and I am thinking out loud here... because I have NOT approached the people that own this forum) but there may be some support available here. Maybe a section that posts/questions about the project can be posted. Just a thought.

Overall, I think it's a great idea. I am not sure if you are looking for support/praise or a partner. But the entire project is certainly doable and (I think) would be PERFECT for those starting or trying to better develop their own sites.

Also... (sorry... thoughts keep jumping in here) if there was a supporting section of the forum, you could take suggestions or questions for people following. Not trying to make it a huge free-for-all, but a way to follow the development and ask questions. Like I said... more thinking out loud here.
LOL! I love that I've got you thinking!

Yes, I'd thought about a timeline. 3-6 months was what I was thinking about too. There ought to be something good happening by then.

I've thought about your suggestion about charging, too, but actually part of my motivation is to help others without charging for it. I know what it's like to fail online. I also know what it's like to have no money to work with, where you're living hand-to-mouth, just trying to figure out how to pay the next month's rent. This project would be aimed at people like that, as well as newbies who are afraid of getting it going on their own, and there are a lot of them these days with the Depression in place that isn't called what it really is. True unemployment is closer to 20% than 9%. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics admits that when you add in discouraged workers, workers who haven't had work in over a year, etc., the rate is actually 16.2% (their U-6 rate), and I'm convinced even that number understates the problem. 20-22% is more likely the real rate, and those are numbers that match the Great Depression. The only reason we don't see huge bread lines is that a large safety net infrastructure is in place that wasn't here 70 years ago.

I'm glad you like the idea. I think that's the main thing I wanted to know...whether you thought it was worthwhile. The other thing I was hoping for is specific ideas regarding the products to offer via the new site.

I hadn't really thought about a partner, but I actually like that idea a lot. I'm certainly willing to bring someone on who is willing to share the load. In fact, now that you have me thinking about this possibility, I think it would be fun to have a bunch of people involved in the project, regardless of whether they have previous experience or not. I'd be willing to share the profits from actual sale of the products proportionate to work done. It would be a great way to include newbies who wanted to learn while they earn, don't you think?

Over the weekend, I also realized that I have a couple of dormant websites, both well over 10 years old, that get an occasional Adsense click, and the average click value is over a dollar. So obviously, I have an opportunity to develop them as well. I've already made some plans to work on one of them, in the next couple of months.

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Old 11th July 2011, 10:05 AM   #10
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Interesting conversation - and I really like the way the ideas are flowing. Kudos to you both.

I especially like the remarks about backlinks - I have felt for a long time that buying or exchanging backlinks are a contrivance that undermine the original Google intent of "a link = a vote." In the early days, too, G was strongly opposed to selling links and even banned sites for doing so. Now, it would seem, backlinks are a major element in ranking, much to the detriment of the search results, in my view.

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