What are long tail keywords and why are they important?

If you have started any kind of Search Marketing campaign or talked to a consultant about it, then you've probably heard about long tail keywords. And I would put money on the fact that the majority of them never explained what the heck long tail even means.

The Definition

If you want the technical definition written by mathematicians for mathematicians then by all means click the link to wikipedia, and begin pounding your head against the desk. For those that would much rather it be put into terms that can be understood by someone without a PhD refer to Dino down below.

Ilz5kYes, this is a picture of a dinosaur, but it is the perfect way to explain long tail keywords. Dino's body represents the distribution of searches for all the different keywords in a given industry.

If we are looking at all the keywords that are related to the printing industry Dino's head would be the number of searches for Printing. That’s because the keyword Printing is so generic and so many things can fall under the category of printing. This could be anything from trying to print a business card, buying a printer, printing a paper, etc. That’s why the more generic the term, the more searches, and more competition.

So if the keyword Printing is where the head is then 4/4 offset business cards with satin AQ coating would be on the far end of the tail. The more specific, the fewer searches, and in most cases less competition. The greatest benefit of all is that the people who search for something that detailed know exactly what they are looking for and what they want to find. Your goal is to find a happy medium where there is relatively low competition, but the search terms are still very specific. This is the money area. It falls somewhere between the stomach and the thick part of his tail. The keywords in this area are ideal for small businesses that don't have huge advertising budgets. If you’re creative in choosing your search terms you could drive a significant amount of traffic to your website.