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Google AdSense Long Tail Search Keywords Myth

Updated on February 27, 2012

High CPC Long Tail Search Keywords

The Internet is a powerful tool. It provides access to virtually limitless information for knowledge seekers, and it provides an infinite space for others to share their knowledge without censorship. However, this same power, is also its weakness, for there is no way to validate that those who choose to publish information do so accurately.

One concept that has been frequently misunderstood is the concept of the so called, long-tail of search. At the theoretical level, this is nothing more than an interesting discussion gone wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to Internet Marketing and making money online with Google AdSense, whether on HubPages or somewhere else, it can lead otherwise promising writers down the wrong path.

What Is The Long Tail?

The term The Long Tail was coined by author Chris Anderson in his book titled the same. In the book Anderson analyzes how the Internet allows the demand for certain products to be aggregated in such a way that makes selling those products viable and profitable, when it would otherwise not be the case.

The most frequently used example is the sale of music CDs. While the large retailers, like Wal-Mart, can only afford to stock titles that will sell millions of copies, an online retailer, like Amazon, can stock CDs by more artists. The idea is that if a band has a fan base of 50,000, that is too few for Wal-Mart to even bother with purchasing, prepping, and shipping to its stores, because it can't be sure to get the necessary number to each store even if it wanted to. However, as a retailer with no location, Amazon can sell to all 50,000 of those fans and make a small profit.

The value comes from Amazon being able to do this with a thousand artists with similar fan bases. In short, by capturing the small batches of 50,000 sales, one thousand times, Amazon reaps the equivalent of several blockbuster music releases.

The concept has a few potential wholes, but is solid enough to warrant investigation. Many online marketing "experts" suggest taking the long-tail concept to the realm of keyword research and selection in order to make more money online with AdSense and other online advertising.

Long Tail Keywords Mistakes

Unfortunately, the concept of the Long Tail has not translated well to the masses who write advice about making money with Google AdSense using targeted keyword research. This is not to say that the concept of the Long Tail is flawed and cannot be used to make money with keywords, but rather that the way it has been described and implemented are not consistent with the long-tail paradigm.

Much advice focuses on using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to research "long tail keywords." The problem is, that the Google Keyword Tool does not list long tail keywords at all.

Consider that in order to be "long tail" the item must be far enough down the demand curve such that supplying that demand is not feasible for regular or big retailers. For that to be the case, the expense of providing that product must outweigh the potential revenue of supplying it. This is virtually never the case online, as the original examples attest to regularly.

As an example, take Fidelity Investments. The company offers numerous Fidelity Mutual Funds as well as online brokerage services and thousands of other company's mutual funds as well. Where, then, can we find the long tail of the personal finance and investing world?

When it comes to investment products, the answer seems simple. While Fidelity does offer a U.S. Micro-cap mutual fund, it cannot offer a Iowa Micro-cap fund, for example. Not only is there not enough demand to make it cost effective, but there are likely not enough Iowa based companies to invest in either. Is that the long-tail?

Perhaps, but, unlike the examples cited in the book, this same micro-niche cannot be feasibly supplied by anyone else, no matter how nimble or low cost.

Even less limiting is Fidelity's ability to provide investment advice or financial information.

Consider that while millions of people search each day for advice about 401(k) plans, or stock tips, or even basic investing concepts, far fewer people search for information regarding, say a butterfly call spread.

Could this be the long tail?

Again, no, but for the opposite reason.

In this case, there is simply no barrier to Fidelity, or Vanguard, or Money Magazine, or anyone else for that matter, to providing complete, useful, information about butterfly call spreads. An article could be published on Fidelity's investor information website as easily as it could be on any competitor.

What then, is the long tail all about when it comes to search and keyword research?

Real Profitable Keyword Research

The answer has nothing to do with the long tail. Rather, the Internet Marketer will find their greatest success (so the theory goes) with keywords that have a relatively high number of searches, but a relatively low amount of competition. This is not the long-tail at all.

To understand, simply take the exact same concept to the non-online world.

If you could find a product to sell that a relatively high number of people wanted to buy, but that a relatively low number of stores sold, that would be profitable, but it would not be long tail. In fact, the key to this method of marketing is secrecy, because once anyone finds out there is a potential profit, no matter how small, they will do it also. Contrast this to the fact that Wal-Mart cannot replicate (in its physical stores at least) what Amazon does with CDs no matter how public Amazon's success is.

Instead, this is nothing more than discovering a hidden demand and meeting it. In other words, don't get confused about long-tail searches, or long tail keywords. Instead, focus on finding different ways to supply the same information to searchers. To do that, you have to think like a typical Google user better than your competition does.

Fortunately, when the marketplace is as big as the Internet, there are plenty of places to be able to do just that.

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    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Interesting insight into the long tail term. I have always thought that it just meant the long tail of a frequency distribution, but didn't know that there is more to it than that.

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