Jon, our fearless leader (ok, maybe not), just sent an email out to our staff here at ActiveRain letting us know that yesterday we set a new daily traffic record. We had 20% more visitors to ActiveRain in a single day than we have ever had. Whenever he sends something like this, I always jump into our analytics account and try to see if there is any reasonable explanation.
I don't think I really found a reasonable explanation, but I did stumble across an unbelievable example of the long tail at work.
For those of you that aren't familiar with the term long tail, let me explain as I would if I was talking to someone that had no idea about the long tail. I don't know who originally came up with this parallel, but I think it's really easy to understand (I know Chris Anderson coined the term Long Tail, just not sure if he was the first to use this analogy although my guess is yes).
Consider your local bookstore. They carry less than 1% of the books for sale in the world. In fact, they probably carry less than .001% of the books for sale at any one time. However, the books they do carry make up 60% (maybe even more) of the sales that take place for books in a given year. That leaves a pretty large chunk of the book market, about 40% in our example here, that are not sold by book stores. The big selling books sell tens and even hundreds of thousands of copies a year. But there is a HUGE segment of books out there, the remaining 99% of the books in fact, that make up the remaining 40% of the sales. The thing is, any one book might only sell 3 or 4 times a year. So the cumulative of all those books selling once, twice, maybe even ten times a year make up that 40% of the sales. Amazon thrives on selling on this long tail. They don't have to hold and display the inventory on shelves, so it makes sense for them to have available that book that only sells 10 times a year. They do quite well selling all kinds of merchandise in this fashion.
You can see then that the long tail is where a lot of the sales of books takes place. Something simiar happens in search results. While you may have certain key search phrases making up the majority of the searches, a vast majority of the long tail searches make up a pretty decent chunk of the overall search traffic.
So back to our Google Analytics account........One of the terms that sent a decent amount of traffic to ActiveRain the last two days was the term: '7500 tax credit' (no quotes, just that term typed in Google or some other search engine). This particular term drove 513 visitors. A secondary search of: '7500 tax credit home buyer' drove an additional 360 visitors.
So in total, those two searches drove 873 visitors the last two days. But let's look a little further down the tail, shall we?
In total, we had 1570 visits in the last two days based on a search with the term '7500' in the keyword string somewhere. The next biggest search with the term '7500' in it drove only 15 visitors. So we can pretty safely assume that everything after that term is on the long tail, no search result with the term '7500' will drive more than 15 visitors. Care to guess how many terms, other than the two most popular, were typed into a search engine using '7500' as one of the keywords? 539!!!!
538 times someone typed in a variation of keywords using the term '7500' in the last two days and landed on ActiveRain. Those 539 searches resulted in 697 visits. So the first two (2) terms accounted for 873 of the 1570 total visits or 56%, and the remaining 539 searches resulted in 697 visits or 44% of the visitors searching for '7500' something.
.3% of the search terms drove 56% of the traffic and the remaining 99.7% of the terms drove 44% of the traffic. If that's not the long tail, you will never see it!!
What kind of searches on are on that long tail? Here are the next most popular variations:
Nothing very shocking there. Just lots of different ways people think to type the same thing into a search engine and find their way to ActiveRain. It's when you get much farther down that you start to see something very interesting. There are HUNDREDS of ways someone searched and many of them match how someone would naturally asked the question if they were speaking it.
These type of search engine queries often find their way to ActiveRain because of the way they mimic natural language. Your blog posts are written using this kind of natural language so it only makes sense that the search engines would return results that match the natural language queries.
Please keep in mind, this is TWO DAYS worth of searching. I'll tell you what though, there is some accountant out there that really wishes he was getting referrals from a few ActiveRain members, because whoever is writing about this '$7500 tax credit for first time home buyers' (that's how I would have searched for it) is getting a TON of traffic.
The point? Our long tail is sending visitors every day to your blog posts based on natural language search, and 40% (or in our specific example 44%) of the searches being done out there are of this nature. So you just keep on writing solid information about your market or your area of expertise, let people get better and better at searching for exactly what they are looking for and let Google and the other search engines sort out the traffic.........much of which will end up on your blog posts on ActiveRain!!