The phrase “long tail” was coined by Chris Anderson writing for Wired back in 2004.  Anderson theorized that while mass appeal ruled the sphere of traditional media, the instantaneous and endlessly customizable nature of net searches meant that web users could discover increasingly specific, niche-oriented products.  In other words, the fact that you can Google a very precise and detailed phrase means that “obscure” markets can actually be quite profitable.  As this idea suggests, there’s often a critical link between long tail marketing, and being successful in your niche or micro-niche.

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Traffic and Revenue Lies in the Long Tail

In the words of CEO Eric Schmidt, “The surprising thing about The Long Tail is just how long the tail is, and how many businesses haven’t been served by traditional advertising sales.”  That quote is pushing 1o years old, and we all know that internet marketing tactics move at the speed of light. Nonetheless, Schmidt remains correct when he says that businesses tend to underestimate the length of the “tail.”

After all, the point of long tail marketing (and niche marketing itself) is that it isn’t based on broad popularity.  But despite that apparent disadvantage, you’d probably be surprised to learn that most web traffic is centered on the long tail.  Anderson observed that the majority of marketing juggernaut Amazon’s revenues came from long tail items, not the “obvious” best-sellers.

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An Infinite Number of Markets

This brings up another phenomenon: believe it or not, long tail items boast a higher search volume than stereotypical “high search volume” terms.  As Anderson wrote:

“When consumers are offered infinite choice, the true shape of demand is revealed. And it turns out to be less hit-centric than we thought.  People gravitate towards niches because they satisfy narrow interests better…”

To put it simply, long tail items get more traffic than the so-called “hits” of the “short head” because there is a finite number of short head terms.  By comparison, long tail terms can literally stretch into infinity.  (How many different word combinations are there in the English language?)

Furthermore, specific searches tend to imply a consumer interest rather than an academic interest.  For example, a person who simply wants to learn about Great Danes will typically type in a simple phrase (our “best-seller”) like “Great Danes” or “Great Dane size.”  A person who wants to buy a Great Dane or related care product, however, is likely to type in a more specific phrase (our long tail niche), such as “Great Dane puppy Smith County Texas” or “what should I feed a Great Dane puppy 3 weeks old.”

If you would like to find out more about niche marketing, I invite you to contact me.  I have been helping professional service providers such as CPAs, attorneys, and financial services providers focus their business development efforts on profitable micro-niches for over 10 years. Email me at


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