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No, that doesn’t mean you’re a mouse. Long Tail is a term that relates to the way people search on the internet and the content you should have on your website to attract those searches.
Let’s look the meaning of Long Tail in the context of one particular business. We’ll pick a tutoring business as an example. Further, let’s pick a tutoring business that specializes in helping young children catch up grade levels. Their prime targets are children aged 6-14 who are not keeping up with other kids. Let’s call it Star Tutoring.
Star Tutoring has a niche market. A niche market means that a business focuses its efforts on a very specific and well-defined customer. (According to Merriam-Webster, a niche is “a place, employment, status or activity for which a person is best fitted.” As in “she finally found her niche as a pastry chef.”)
The whole business of tutoring is very broad. The business of tutoring would include in-home tutors, tutoring for adults, summertime tutoring and tutoring for at-risk teens. There’s specialty tutoring for math or science. And there are companies that specialize in preparations for major tests like SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Whew!
You can see that each one of these different types of tutoring each has its own niche market. Now the job becomes matching web content to that niche market so one’s website attracts the right kind of customer.
Building a Website that Matches Your Strengths
The wrong way for Star Tutoring’s web content to read would be like this:
“Star Tutoring staff care about your success. Every time you visit Star Tutoring, you will feel more like you can succeed. We have so many tutors that it is easy for you to schedule tutoring with us.” No appeal to the specific niche they are trying to reach.
Star Tutoring should match the language on their website very specifically to the needs of their desired customers. Like this:
“When parents are concerned that their children are falling behind in school, they can be confident that failing students can become students that excel. Your child can catch up grade levels and improve his grades at Star Tutoring.”
Now that you understand this, we’ll look at how a niche market relates to the Long Tail.
How the Long Tail Works
The Long Tail of web searches refers to a visual representation of internet searches. Despite what you may think, the majority of searches are specific, not broad. If you create a graph of all the words used in searches, with the most commonly used words bunching up on the left and the very specific, descriptive phrases trailing away to the right, the graph shows a big bulge (called a “Fat Head”) on the left and a LONG, SKINNY TAIL formation to the right.
The Fat Head of tutoring searches would include:
The Long Tail of tutoring searches would mean that people were searching by terms like this:
Tutoring for Failing Students
Catch Up Tutoring
Tutoring to Improve Grades
Every search phrase above includes the word “tutor” so of course the graph shows a high level of searches that include the word “tutor” (the Fat Head of search terms). The number of people looking for “Catch Up Tutoring” is much smaller but they are your prime public.
A parent who finds Star Tutoring with the second set of search terms is not looking for advanced science, SAT or adult tutoring. She is looking for exactly what Star Tutoring offers!
You can use the Long Tail to your advantage by making sure the language on your website matches your strengths, the products you offer that are the most profitable and your niche market. This focus on your ideal buyers makes the most of your investment in your website and any online advertising you might do.