Should Your SEO Strategy Target the Head or Long Tail?There are times when I have to roll my eyes. Usually, it's when prospects tell me they want to hire an SEO firm so their site will get ranked for one highly competitive keyword. After I take a deep breath, I prepare myself for the discussion that's about to take place. It starts with an explanation of optimizing for "head" queries, or the most popular terms; and "long tail" search optimization, for queries which are less popular, but collectively drive a large amount of traffic. Certainly, the head of search can really move the needle for some companies. For retailers, the tail of search (people searching for a specific product/product model number, etc.) can effectively drive highly targeted traffic that converts very well. I understand companies want to rank for that one highly competitive keyword -- and there are ways to achieve that ranking. Here's where search gets really interesting, though. If you're focused on ranking for that one major keyword, having a deep Web site full of great content is necessary to achieve authority in the eyes of the search engine. So, even if you didn't intend to do it, you'll be optimizing for the tail in order to achieve your goals for the head. Making Heads and Tails of TripAdvisor Let's take a look at an example, using a Web site that I often refer to, but have no affiliation with whatsoever, TripAdvisor:
- Huge site: More than 35 million pages indexed in Yahoo.
- Title tag of home page: "Reviews of vacations, hotels, resorts, vacation and travel packages - TripAdvisor." (From this, I assume their most important keyword is "Reviews of vacations.")
- Ranking for "Reviews of Vacations": Number one on Google, number one on Yahoo.
- Title tag of a local hotel page: "Hotel Palomar Dallas - a Kimpton Hotel (Dallas, TX) - Hotel Reviews - TripAdvisor." (From this, I assume the most important keyword is "Hotel Palomar Dallas.")
- Ranking for "Hotel Palomar Dallas": number three on Google, number five on Yahoo.
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