Practical Ecommerce

SEO: Targeting the Longtail for More Sales

For many small online businesses, especially ecommerce, search-engine, keyword optimization is a once a year process at best. Once you have gone through the laborious and mind numbing process of keyword research, writing title tags, page descriptions and revising your copy, the idea of doing all over again every year is enough to make you want to crash a hard drive.

The simple solution is to hire a qualified SEO professional to handle it. But as budgets shrink this option might not be plausible. You can, however, stay on top of new search trends and generate more traffic without having a nervous breakdown. The secret is in the longtail phrase and adding relevant content that captures these visitors.

What’s a Longtail?

A longtail phrase is a series of words people use to start a search query. Reports by Hitwise show that “queries with four to eight words and over are all up year over year in growth ranging from 3% to 20%.” This means your customers are getting more specific about how they search and what they expect to find. These phrases can be very revealing for ecommerce, especially when you identify words that indicate intent.

A good example of longtail phrase would be “orthopedic dog bed large” or “antique tiffany diamond engagement ring” The qualifying words like “orthopedic” or “antique” and “engagement” indicate a clear understanding of what they want. Normally this indicates a person who is closer to the buying decision. Once you start keyword research you are bound to find dozens of phrases that are specific to a product or problem. These are the “money terms” because these people are ready to act.

Research Longtail Keywords

Set aside one hour a week to do keyword research until you have a good long list. Edit it mercilessly and identify trends and action terms. Now that you have your money terms, you don’t have to rewrite your entire ecommerce store.

Instead, create new pages featuring articles, video descriptions, testimonial pages or reviews that are relevant to your new keywords. This gives your ecommerce store more search food and more relevance to your visitors.

Adding good content that is optimized for the longtail is an inexpensive way to attract more traffic and increase sales.

Jan Riley

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  1. Armando Roggio March 25, 2009 Reply

    Love the long tail

  2. flyingkites March 26, 2009 Reply

    As far as I know the term "longtail" defines "selling a few of a lot of things" and has nothing to do with Search Terms per se at all. See

    Having said that, it is true that search phrases are getting longer. You only have to look at your hosting stats. to see that. You don’t need Hitwise et al to do it for you!

  3. Heather Dawson March 26, 2009 Reply

    Merchants are definitely focusing more on ‘longtail’ terms because when a shopper is looking for a specific item its an indicator of shopping intent, and they convert at a higher rate.

    Getting a high return on your advertising dollars is key.

  4. Don Lokke November 30, 2011 Reply

    flyingkites – long-tail search phrases define what we call the "search close".
    The point where a consumer completes the search process using a highly defined search phrase resulting in high conversion rates.

    Nice to see a spot on article. We specifically target buyers by targeting long-tail phrases. More efficient that chasing traffic. It’s just better targeting. Check out our 3-minute video on the topic: