The Long Tail is dead. Long live the Long Tail!
A recent study has discredited Chris Anderson's theory of the Long Tail of online business. It sparked heated discussions on many blogs about the validity of the Long Tail. Regardless of whether the long tail applies to every form of online business, one thing is certain: it definitely applies to search.
Long before Anderson formulated the long tail theory in his book, search professionals already intuitively understood that targeting longer, more specific search phrases was often a smart move. Users who type in specific terms have specific information needs, and by fulfilling those needs you're more likely to turn a visitor into a customer.
With the growth of keyword-targeted advertising, long tail thinking has become ever more prevalent in the search marketing industry. Not only do campaigns that effectively target long tail keywords generate more business, it also tends to result in lower costs per acquisition. Due to the competitive nature of search engine advertising, long tail keywords are often cheaper to buy ads on. Combine lower cost with higher conversion rates and you've got a recipe for success.
The debate about the long tail will undoubtedly continue for a while. The internet in general is a favorite topic of research and new studies will undoubtedly show results both in favor and against the long tail, with proponents and opponents battling it out on blogs worldwide. As search professionals we're in a position of luxury, as for our industry the debate is already over - the Long Tail is here to stay.
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