Studies & Opinions
Targeted Keyword Advertising,
Not Blind Long Tail
December 18, 2007
Choose key words that will
bring buying visitors, not just traffic, to your Web site.
Trusting ad strategy simply
to long-tail key words can be a costly mistake. Advertisers should
zero in on long tails that actually work, and they should augment
references to complementary and substitute items with value-adding
What is a “long tail”?
phrase started life in the October 2004 issue of Wire, where Chris Anderson used it to describe
sales patterns experienced by online businesses like Nextflix
and Amazon.com. It refers to the distribution of an event’s outcomes, the likelihood of the
occurrence of certain outcomes. When distributed along a “normal”
tail, outcomes that are not close to the average are highly unlikely
to occur—i.e., very rare. With a “long tail” distribution we find
the reverse, namely a long string of unlikely events. For purposes
of our discussion, the events in question are sales.
book sales were to exhibit a long-tail behavior, then money could
be generated from them. Moreover, with a large number of available
book titles that exhibit such behavior, the sum of all these sales
would be considerable, and thus, the resulting revenue could be
considerable instead of being negligible, as under the normal
tail Hence, the availability of these titles for
sale is a necessary condition for the success of a long-tail book
strategy. However, a viable long-tail
strategy for a large e-tailer is not necessarily viable for a
competitor in a subsegment of the market.
When should advertisers
include long-tail key words in their campaigns?
Basically, a long-tail strategy
goes beyond the popular forms of a given key word to include its
less-used alternatives. For example, you might include “URL registration”
along with the more frequently searched “domain registration.”
high number of variants can attract considerable traffic to a
site. However, they should be included in an ad campaign only
when they bring in more revenue than their cost. A visit does
not generate revenue unless the visitor, either then or later,
buys products or services from the site. A visitor will be much
less likely to do so if they find themselves getting dragged to
your site for no good reason
Impulse shoppers are one
thing, buyers looking to make a particular purchase are another.
They call for different strategies.
if visitors aren’t trying to find us, they get exposed to our
brand and may buy on impulse.” Doubtful. Remember, if you’re not
selling items related to the key word, visitors’ chief impulse
will be irritation. That doesn’t generate a lot of sales—or help
brand awareness. Meanwhile, you pay the cost per click, the costs
involved in deploying all those irrelevant key words, and the
damage to your brand name.
of fad concepts and buzz. Chasing the long tail makes precious
little sense next to the fundamentals of revenue generation.
Process of selecting
intent-motivated key words
1. Compile a list of ad key words using all the sources outlined below:
a. Filtered searches of key words used by visitors. You’ll find the words on your
Web logs, but screen out those with weak relevance to what you’re
selling. Remember, even if you don’t sell a product its name may
show up on your site and drag you in front of uninterested buyers
b. For the same reason, filter key words that your competitors use in their meta
tags or elsewhere.
c. Augment the above with key words associated with exclusive
items you sell, and if applicable, geographical references, seasonal
key words, such as holidays, and operating hours for local markets.
Also use key words referring to complementary and substitute items.
However, to be effective, such key words require extra work, as
they must be accompanied by tex to raise awareness of the value of substitutes and explain the
value of complementary items offered. Thus, just having these
key words in ads and/or Web sites, as a search engine optimization
(SEO) technique, can lead to self-inflicted brand dilution.
2. Evaluate performance.
advertising does not end with selecting and running an ad campaign.
It is an ongoing process that requires monitoring performance
using measures such as ROI shifting budget allocations, and adding new key words.