Keyword Campaigns Must Grow Longer Tails

Google tail

Most marketers "suck" at building out long-tail keyword campaigns, Avinash Kaushik told Search Insider Summit conference attendees in Park City, Utah, Thursday. During the keynote Thursday, Google's analytics evangelist described how the long tail can pull in what he calls "impression virgins," but most marketers don't know how to take advantage of the opportunity. The way to grow a company's business is to have an effective long-tail strategy because it allows marketers to capture potential customers first.

The only way to find eBay in a search engine, organically, is to include one of the three keywords: "auctions," "onlinesale" and eBay, said Kaushik. The problem with the strategy is that eBay's growth has been flat for the past three years. Search aims to capture consumers who don't know exactly what they want, but they don't necessarily know the brand.

As people continue to change their search habits, the terms and words searched on, companies, such as eBay continue to slip in organic search rankings. People who searched on the branded company term "grow old and die." Rhetorically, he asks, after they die, what are you left with and how do you create a new strategy?

A search engine query for the "best car for teens" doesn't deliver organic results for Toyota, for example. That's a problem, he says. Typically, a search for a brand requires the company's name, but Kaushik believes marketers need to remain open to the long tail.

Companies could have a keyword strategy with hundred of thousands of keywords and still fail. Companies need a head and tail strategy. Marketers need to analyze the keyword and do the analysis before spending the money.

Google offers tools, such as the Search-Based Keyword Tool, that gives marketers insight into long-tail words. Not just for paid search, but for organic search, too. The application tells marketers the keywords to use, the competition for each keyword and what you can expect to pay for specific words. The tool also displays the current impression share for the campaign from organic and paid search. It gives marketers the ammunition to support a budget for paid and organic search.

The most sophisticated search marketers tend to be at small- to-medium-sized businesses because they don't have roadblocks to success and are more likely to experiment. When asked about the larger companies that do online marketing well, Kaushik pointed to Macy's and Target. "I'm very impressed with Target's online and search strategy," he says. "I have some insight into their analysis and bidding systems. They have a ways to go, but they are embracing experimentation. Macy's also has become very sophisticated in the last six months for their online and attribution strategy."

1 comment about "Keyword Campaigns Must Grow Longer Tails".
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  1. Jared Johnson from Engineer An Icon, December 4, 2009 at 2:34 p.m.

    Here is the problem with Avinash's indictment of search analysts: in paid search, Google is devaluing the long-tail by allowing Broad Match keywords to dominate phrase & exact.
    In this way, keyword lists are less complex than they were years ago, due to this kind of monetary favoritism (Google makes more money off broad match keywords and therefore seems to serve them up more frequently - whether it "match" is relevant or not).
    Now in SEO, I think he has a valid point which deserves merit and recognition. Users get trained to search in certain ways if/when the companies they believe should show up fail to do so for queries that users believe are valid. Then users stop searching in that way, then there is no longer data to support optimizing for a given term.

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