The Long Tail by Chris Anderson is a fascinating book full of convincing evidence explaining the concept of The Long Tail. If you are interested in the concept of the Long Tail or digital retail sales then I would recommend reading it. If you are interested in content marketing like us then you should just read my synopsis below on how The Long Tail relates to content marketing.

The_long_tail_bookcoverThe Long Tail as a concept means this: It turns out that the people have interests in an almost infinitely broad spectrum of things and ideas. Because there are very few constraints on the amount of information that can be stored on the internet it is now possible to market and sell those things and ideas. Down to very, very specific. These very, very specific areas of interest are called niches. A plotted line of these niches flows down and to the right but never quite to zero. The shape of that line is what is called “The Long Tail“.

Using Long Tail keywords in your URLs, content, page titles, and meta descriptions is now a practice that almost all content marketers are promoting. We preach the use of long tail keywords here at CanIRank as a way to build authority while you build your audience. It’s just as good to rank for a bunch of lower traffic long tail keywords as it is to rank for one big one.

There are a few ways in which the fundamentals of this book can be applied to the long tail keyword strategy.

It’s just as good to rank for a bunch of lower traffic keywords as it is to rank for one big one

In the context of music sales the Long Tail means that if you add up all the artists who sell just a few songs per year you will have about the same number as those who sell 10’s of millions. So, as a business owner if you can create a store which sells all of those low selling artists then you can make a very profitable business. The digitization of music has made this possible because it has lowered the overhead cost of running a music store by eliminating the need to ship and store physical media.

You can apply this same logic to search engine marketing. If you can make your website perform well for searches for a large number of niche keywords then it’s possible to have a large enough market to create a viable business.

You can get some traffic for an almost infinite number of specific keywords

The tail for keywords that people are searching for is extremely long. Think about all the different combinations of words that people can type into a search engine and think about all the ways that people describe the things that they are looking for. Even a very specific search term will have a couple of searches on Google each month. The opportunity for you as a small business marketer is to rank for those niche keywords and get your business in front of the people who are searching using those keywords.

You can use authority from a niche keyword to jump to a higher traffic keyword

There is a virtuous circle, a win-win, which happens when you start building your content marketing around niche keywords. The more content you create which ranks well for niche keywords the more authority you will build with search engines and the higher the likelihood that you will be able to rank for higher traffic keywords. In this way you can you “climb” the rankings on Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs). You will be building a solid content foundation for your site as well as moving towards making your business available to more and more people.

Long tail keywords are more valuable. 1 serious shopper vs. 10 looky-loos

When you are ranking well for niche keywords the people who are viewing your links on SERPs are likely to be highly interested in your business. If you can capture the traffic from those niche searches you will have pre-qualified leads which will likely convert to customers.


As it relates to content marketing The Long Tail has had a profound effect. If you understand that there is a tiny market for a very large number of niche keywords then you understand how, as a small business owner, you can compete with that large players in your specific industry.

Read more: