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Searching the Long Tail

Clickz reports on two new surveys on search engine user behavior.

Here are a few highlights:

  • 62 percent of search engine users click on a search result on the first search results page and 90 percent click on a result one of the first three pages.
  • 41 percent of search engine users who continue their search when they don’t find satisfactory results on the first page do one of two things: change engines or change search terms. Four years ago, just 28 percent did.
  • Even more determined are users who don’t find what they’re looking for at all on their first try. Fully 88 percent of these users change engines or change their search terms, up from 78 percent in 2002.

All of those findings are certainly interesting, but there’s nothing earth shattering. How about this one?

82 percent of search engine users relaunch an unsuccessful search using the same search engine used initially, adding more keywords to their query. Just 68 percent stayed with the same engine in 2002.

Remember The Long Tail? The concept is that since the Internet reduces or removes the cost of distribution, the aggregation of sales of less popular items can be more profitable and successful than selling the most profitable items. In other words, if you can sell the exact right item to the exact right person you can make a lot of money if you don’t have to worry about storage and distribution of that item. Amazon is a great example of The Long Tail, as is eBay.

If you examine the statement I bolded above, searchers are using more detailed search phrases, which makes for more narrow searches, and is what The Long Tail is all about.

Clikz comes to the same conclusion I did:

Searchers are increasingly going out on the long tail, using lengthier queries. For search marketers, this means if you’re not targeting both simple keywords and lengthier keyword-rich phrases, you’re likely missing out on a significant amount of traffic that simply wasn’t there a few years ago.

Check those keywords and see if you can throw in a few more narrow phrases.

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