Episode 46: The Power of “Long Tail” Traffic

One of the benefits to writing is the occurrence of “long tail” search traffic. These occurrences have extremely high value, but they often fly under the radar, and therefore remain sadly underappreciated. As a result, we may neglect the opportunity to build up our content libraries, which deliver these serendipitous but powerful engagements.

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Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?

Search engines are a modern marvel. It’s hard to remember what life was like before them—when we had to rely on thick yellow books to find stores or services, and then only those local to us. If you wanted to find something further away you had to call “information” and get an operator to help you—which often cost 50 cents or more per call.

What a different world we live in today. Just start talking to your phone and you have all the world’s information in the palm of your hand. But with such vast amounts of information online, how is your small design business supposed to stand out? In the old days some companies would name themselves AAA Designers – just to get first place in Yellow Page listings. That doesn’t work anymore, and so the likelihood that your site is going to come up when someone searches on the term “graphic designer,” or “web designer,” or “photographer” is just about zero.

But that’s okay. Because searchers don’t look for designers that way anyhow. Like I mentioned in the last episode, we as searchers have to add more terms to our search queries to zero in on the results we need. And the more words we add the more we increase the intensionality of our search. We add “catalogue design” or “product photography” and perhaps add a geographic term, that’s when we start to find what we’re looking for. And this is where you can stand out. The more words people add to their search queries and start to narrow the field of search results, the more they are indicating to the search engine exactly what they’re looking for—and as terms are added and the field narrows the resulting links increase in their relevance.

Let me give you an example from my other company, Cuberis. If you go online and search for a web designer you will not find my company. But add the word museums to your search and we’ll be on the first page. If you add additional terms, relating to some of the specific issues museums face such as “collection management” or “digital asset management” or “CRM” one of our articles will likely be found very close to the top of the search results.

Now there are not too many people out there looking for a web design shop that has experience with museums and collection management systems. But if you did need that and found our article at the top of google—you’ll not only click, you’ll click and arrive at our site already having a level of trust knowing that Google has validated our content as among the most relevant out there. That is a powerful reference!

You can make this work for you too. But in as much as general content about design or branding will get lost in the shuffle, very specific content about the concerns and problems of particular business issues that your clients face—will find their way to the top. And the more discrete the topic, the easier it is to get to the top—and when those events occur they hold even greater weight when they happen.

But like I said, this kind of traffic is serendipitous and discrete. You could never guess, in advance, at the kind of terms people might add to their search queries that will ultimately lead to your content—but the more intensive the terms, the greater the impact when they lead to your content.

These events, even if you scan through your Google analytics aren’t going to be readily visible. But even though they’re invisible, they’re powerful, and it’s worth the effort to add highly specific content that will answer industry specific questions that will lead to these results. So keep up your writing, and contribute to your library of content. If you write it, they will come.

Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.