Skip to main content
Industry Trends

Search Has A Truly Long Tail

By November 20, 2008July 30th, 2023One Comment

Here is some good news for all Search Engine Marketers. A report released recently by Hitwise, has shown that there is still plenty of scope for all those who are in this field, as it seems that only the proverbial ‘Tip of the iceberg’ has been scraped as yet. It is thus not necessary for SEOs to follow ruthless or ‘dog-eat-dog’ marketing practices.

A web analytics expert from Seattle, Dustin Woodard, conducted a study of the 10,000 most commonly used search terms recorded by Hitwise. The resulting graph turned out to be quite incomprehensible, with long stretches of information recorded almost invisibly across both the axes.

In order to get more comprehensible results, he further narrowed down his sample to include only the top 100 search terms, out of an estimated 14 million. The results received showed that these top 100 keywords accounted for only 5.7% of all search traffic. When the experiment was expanded to cover the top 500, 1,000, and 10,000 keywords respectively, it was found that only 8.9%, 10.65% and 18.5% of the total search traffic was covered.

Based on this, Woodard says, “This means if you had a monopoly over the top 1,000 search terms across all search engines, (which is impossible) you’d still be missing out on 89.4% of all search traffic.”

In other words, there is still lots and lots of room available for the search engines to expand their reach. Woodard further says, “If search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

Another reason for search engine optimisers to rejoice is that this experiment was conducted across a sample of only 10 million users based in the U.S., thus leaving out a much bigger field to be captured. Also, the search terms studied were selected with filters to screen out adult terms and the study was carried out considering the top 100 terms across 3 months that are known to be slow for business.

Among the most common search terms found were words like MySpace, Google, Bank of America, and Yahoo mail.

This bit of information should surely be heartening and reassuring to small businesses and SEO professionals among others, as they can be sure that there is till as lot of traffic for them to capture without having to spend absurd amounts of money on a few popular keywords.