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With a large percentage of searches being Long-tail (longer, more specific search phrases), it certainly pays to optimise for this form of a user’s query. After a recent Google update, which SEO commentators and bloggers alike are calling ‘Mayday’, many SEO’s were reporting a destabilisation of the long-tail search landscape. In fact, Matt Cutts of Google has confirmed the algorithmic change was deliberate and all for a familiar reason; improving the quality and relevancy of the (long tail) search results.

The principle of Long Tail is the opposite of targeting the highest volume search terms related to your website. The theory goes that if you only focus on, say, the top 20 highest volume keywords, you are missing the majority of the search market.
In the majority of cases, the top 10 terms provide a large chunk of the traffic, but not as much as the following 10-20 total terms combined.

The more specific a search query becomes, the number of results returned decreases, often quite dramatically. As the number of search results returned is a measure of the competition for that keyword or phrase, the more generic keywords – especially single word terms – require a lot of work and effort to reach the top.

While high traffic driving search terms are a great way to bring new visitors to the site, long tail search terms are an effective way to get consumers to your site that are more likely to purchase your products. For example, a person searching for ‘sterling silver pearl stud earrings’ is far more likely to covert than someone searching for ‘earrings’, as they are far closer to purchasing in the buying cycle.

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