Long Tail Concept – Targeting Your Ideal Audience

Understanding the long tail concept and how it relates to article marketing is key to understanding who your audience is and reaching them.

It can help you understand exactly what type of audience you get from certain keywords and keyphrases you use to write articles.

If you’ve ever studied statistics, you might remember what a long tail distribution curve looks like. It’s where the tail of the curve is extremely long compared to the head.

Moving Along the Long Tail

In article writing and marketing, this distribution curve can be applied to the keywords from a niche to choose the most effective subjects to cover.

There are three sections to the long tail distribution curve for keywords. The further down the curve you move, the more specific and numerous the keywords become.

1. Head – Broad keywords that describe your niche (e.g. “weight loss,” “investing,” “home improvement”). There are a lot of people searching for this most broad type of keyword, and there’s also a lot of authors writing content about the keyword.

People doing searches for these types of keywords are looking for basic information on the subject. Articles written for the head of the tail are usually introductory to the niche.

2. Middle – A group of keyphrases that are more specific than the keywords from the head. These keyphrases are usually about 2-4 words long. There are fewer people searching for the more complex keyphrases and fewer authors writing content for the keyphrases (e.g. “weight loss for men,” “retirement planning,” “custom cabinetry”).

People doing searches in the middle of the keyword distribution are more invested in the subject and they’re looking for more specific information.

3. Tail – The most specific and complex keyphrases which may be about 4-6 words long. Even less people are searching for these keyphrases and there are few other authors writing on each subject (e.g. “weight loss for men with diabetes,” “retirement planning in a recessive economy,” “installing kitchen cabinets for less than $5,000”).

People doing searches further along the tail are the most invested in the subject and they’re looking for very specific information.

The long tail is where your expertise comes in the most handy. It’s where the most detailed articles come from and where you’ll be able to accurately target the types of people looking for your content.

Getting Max Exposure

However, don’t focus solely on writing for the tail of the distribution. You want to have a wide range of articles covering a lot of different keywords and keyphrases to maximize your exposure.

Probably the most complicated thing about writing for the long tail is getting past the counter-intuitive nature of it. Writing for a smaller audience actually gives you a higher click-through rate (CTR) for your articles. The audience reached with more specific keyphrases is already very interested in the subject and will be interested in additional information.

So, take advantage of this information now and do some keyword research to lay out the long tail distribution for your next set of high-quality, original articles.

Leave a comment if you’re still a little confused on the whole long tail concept, like Stanley, or if you have any keyword research success stories.


Sean Buvala writes:

Excellent advice. Your mention of the counter-intuitive feeling will help many people. The more you can address a niche, the more responsive that nice will be. Spending time doing keyword research for those 1k-3k searches per month can pay off very well.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM


Camille Rodriquez writes:

Good points! Some of this I have done intuitively, and sometimes I’ve missed the opportunity now that I see this in print.

Love the helpful hints, though, and now I’ll do better what I hope I’ve been doing well!

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 2:22 PM



Thank you for discussing the long tail keyword and the value of addressing a niche. Getting used to using longer keywords made up of phrases leads to more successful niche marketing.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 2:30 PM


Bill Davis writes:

As they say in the field, “go narrow but deep.” You may find it helpful to think of long tail keyword phrases as “buyers’ terms” whereas the middle and head KWs are “searchers’ terms.”

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 3:41 PM




What would you charge me for a consult (perhaps half an hour max)? If I tell you how I see my ideal audience, would you share ideas on how best to “key-word and key-phrase” it, so to speak? Thanks, RRR

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 4:27 PM


Unfortunately, we don’t offer our services for hire in that way. However, you’ll be glad to know that there is an abundance of information in our Blog and on the Internet in general about generating effective keywords and key-phrases. There are also a plethora of books on the topic.

Often, the best way to find effective keywords for your niche is to write articles around a variety of keywords, review the results to find which are the most effective and then write more articles based on the most effective keywords.




As I review the last two years of my internet marketing for my book and articles, I have focused primarily on head and middle key words. I think that is my writing and search style more than anything else so I found this article on long tail helpful and will give it a conscious try.

Really appreciate your efforts to help us all.


Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM


John Tyler writes:

Mary Jane:
I am inclined to agree with you. I design websites (as well as write books), and the end result of my keywords gets my websites onto either page one or two in the Google searches.

a relationship books query brings that site to the second from the top – page two Google.

My rookie authors query brings me to page one – 2nd from the top, so keywords are valuable toward getting noticed in the Google (remier) search engines.

Best regards,

John Tyler


Lisa writes:

What do these things mean?

a relationsip books query

rookie authors query




Excellent piece! It really touches on how it’s important to watch out for too much generalization, and how statistical analyses comes into play. I know, many people may have just ran away screaming as I mentioned statistical analyses, but, like the niche group that will come out in a feeding frenzy for stuff that’s just for them, the numbers and how they affect everyday clicking come out too.

Thanks for this post!

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 5:14 PM


val taylor writes:

I was just taught this long tail method a week or so ago and it stills make me feel uneasy as I believe I’m writing on a subject no one is searching for, but when I posted three or four articles, I got 10 publishers to pick them up so I guess it does work. Now I’m writing for long tail like crazy.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 5:42 PM



I have 50-some categories on my site, and, just this morning, I was studying my own work, trying to learn why 4 out of 5 of my organic hits come to just 2 of them. In fact, it would be fair to say that 3 or those 4 come from just one category. I’m still working on that, but it was evident from early in the study that I did my best keyword analysis when I was working those categories, and the hits are coming from 3 and 4 word searches. I just slacked off with the rest, and it’s costing me.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 5:55 PM


Frankie Cooper writes:

I’ve never heard of the long tail concept before. But I see how effective it would be to research niche keywords and them use them in my article writing strategy. Thanks for the information.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 6:46 PM


Alex Wilson writes:

Hi Marc

What a pleasure it was to read this treatment of the Long Tail Concept. For years I’ve been concerned about the lack of understanding that the majority of people involved in Internet marketing have about long tail keywords. The general consensus, I’ve found, is that the more words a keyword phrase contains the higher its qualification as a long tail keyword. And generally, I have found too, almost nobody has any knowledge or understanding of the frequency distribution curve.

I feel it is a pity that in order to give people some understanding of long tail keywords that one has to resort to dealing with numbers of words as an indication as to their position in the curve. Taking your “weight loss” niche as an example, we find that “weight loss” has nearly 38,000 searches a day. The next most searched for keyword/phrase in that niche is “lose weight fast” at nearly 8000 searches a day, so it is definitely in the Head. However “weight loss table” has seven searches a day and is most definitely in the Tail; and yet both phrases contain three words. But obviously getting the greater percentage of people involved in Internet marketing to understand frequency distribution curves would be well-nigh impossible and I guess the word count is the best that can be done.

But I digress. The really important part of your newsletter was the value of targeting long tail keywords; but I have experienced some difficulty in doing this as far as EzineArticles is concerned. For example, a long tail keyword that I wanted to target in an article caused the article to be denied publication because the editor determined that my keyword was “improper grammar”.

Quite obviously a number of long tail keywords run the risk of suffering at the hands of editors, simply because many of such long tail keywords are rather unwieldy and smack of poor communication skills– they are in short “improper grammar”. But that doesn’t alter the fact that over 8000 searches a month are made for the keyword that I was wanting to target, and many other similarly unwieldy long tail keywords would be desirable targets from an Internet marketers point of view. Writers and editors cannot control the manner in which people search for their interests, and if some of their search terms are lacking in grammatical construction my belief is that those people should be catered to the best of our skill and ability nonetheless.

So Marc is there any possibility of the editorial team reviewing this somewhat difficult situation that writers encounter in targeting some long tail keywords, and in so doing, determining on responses that are a little more conciliatory?



Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 7:49 PM


Alex, I’m handing your question off to Penny, our Managing Editor. She’s much better qualified to answer this for you.



In instances like this, we wouldn’t allow the article because of the poor grammar. This rule applies to 2 word keyphrases as well because it leaves for a poor user experience. No one wants to read an article that is written only for SEO.

The long tail is not always the best choice when the grammar is bad and it may not work in all instances. If the article reads poorly, you not only lose readers, you lose credibility as an expert.


Julia Andersson writes:

Excellent advice! I generally do keyword research with the google adwords keyword tool or occasionally through wordtracker. Mostly google since their stats come from their own search engine where wordtracker only comes from small search engines.

Anyway, I usually look for keywords that receive a minimum of 30-60 searches per month… less than that and I don’t consider it worthwhile… UNLESS it’s hyper specific like ‘buy forex software online’ or something ultra profitable like that in which case even one or two searches per month are worthwhile if you can rank well for the keyword.

The way I work it with my blog is to target a very specific long tail keyword plus several related secondary keywords in each post.

Now the weight loss blog that I’ve used as the website address for this comment has 187 posts and I am finally starting to get visitors who are searching for competitive keywords like: weight loss, weight loss tips, rapid weight loss etc. I have never specifically targeted these keywords because they are too competitive yet I am beginning to rank for them in Australia at least.

So my attitude is that you target the long tail and the short tail (or head) takes care of itself since those keywords naturally appear in most posts anyway.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 8:19 PM


Mully writes:

I am a newbie in writing articles. This is the first time I heard of long tail concept & already apply it on my 3rd articles. I believe it works & will continue to implement it ……. EVERYTIME…..ALL THE TIME!

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 9:26 PM



Really a great post , but we have to take both short tail and long tail in consideration if we want high traffic and targeted conversions. Short tail obviously drive a lot more traffic to your site but they are not goal converting, people will come without any intent but in case of long tail ones 4-6 words based, you will have very less traffic but they will be highly goal converting. I will be implementating this strategy for my upcoming blogs and sites.

Many thanks for this informative post.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 10:34 PM


Dinesh writes:

Deeapk , Yes you are absolutely right , In order to get a good traffic we have to target both the keywords ..


Hiram Evans writes:

I am glad to see this article come to your audiance and it is none to early. As I read through the piece, I know that there is credability here in the method that this subject was provided. On the other hand, I have seen many gurus and others who have actually confussed their readers when discussing the subject of “finding your keyword”, but not dealing with it properly, or not going into the subject to educated their audiance.

Thanks for this article.

Comment provided October 25, 2010 at 10:38 PM


zahra writes:

Learning is never ending story and I always admire the brain of others.
I should thank you for the tips.

Best regards
Zahra. J. Saleh

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 12:20 AM


seo services writes:

Learning is never ending story and i always thank you for the tips.

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 12:55 AM



The title of this article ‘Long Tail Concept – Targeting Your Audience’, caught my attention and held me spell bound for 10 -15 minutes. As I read the article I knew it was intended for me, your target audience. Thank you for introducing me to the “Long Tail Concept’. I will use it as I promote and manage my website. Again, thank you.

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 2:51 AM


andreas kramers writes:

Good info,
Going long tail in your keyword research is also something I had to learn. When researching middle or main(seed) keywords I look up the ‘phrase match’ results.
When researching long tail phrases it’s important to look at the ‘exact match’ results. These tend to be very low, sometimes google doesn’t even have data available.
As a rule of thumb I search for 1000+ searches per month ‘exact match’. These are hard to find, but if you do, there’s a great chance of making sales.
Can’t stress enough on the importance of keyword research. Take your time to evaluate each word and size up the competition too.


Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 7:10 AM


Tom Copeland writes:

Hi guys,
I wrote 2 long-tail articles for 2 different insurance agency clients. I’m a freelance writer that started a business selling web content and development to small financial businesses.
One of the articles was on Florida home insurance, and more specifically (in the long tail) how they are underfunded. The second article was about hurricanes, and more specifically, how Andrew changed it all.
So the articles have been optimized and delivered, and the clients haven’t yet put them out. I’ll be analyzing the work after it’s up, and post an update here if you guys are interested!

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 7:10 AM


Terrie Marie writes:

Thank you for your guidance! I am new to article writing and very much appreciate your sharing information with all of us!
Rainbows and Waterfall Blessings,
Terrie Marie

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 8:12 AM


Rich Woodfin writes:

Any thoughts on how Google Instant impacts Long-Tail effectiveness ? For example, you might not get “weight loss for men the diabetes” typed in before Google is serving suggestions and results ?

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM


Denise Grier writes:

I want to thank you so much for this easy to understand explanation of the long tail. What sounds scientific and complicated you have made simple and fun. I am going to share this post with my readers.

Comment provided October 26, 2010 at 10:46 AM


Tom Morrow writes:

This makes a lot of sense. I am in the process of reading a book on SEO and many of the ideas are similar. I co-own a wedding event facility and have found that using long key word strings can increase web access. Perhaps I need to do the same when I publish my next article!

Comment provided October 27, 2010 at 12:53 AM


Thomas writes:

This is really relating to the trend as it will help me
to gain more presence within a niche. You guys are helping us to get at the right spot with much benefit.
Once i read it is kept at the back of head when building my campaigns.


Comment provided October 27, 2010 at 2:53 PM


Thomas writes:

This is what i like about you guys in giving the latest Tips in improving my article writing skill. I have already tried your titles suggestion system. You always motivate me to look into the future with contineous efforts.
I was like waiting for you guys to confirm the benefits of using long tail keywords. You have explained this concept in clear cut way.

I like this way of free traffic because you really work for it and oberve your sweet pie of your labor.


Comment provided October 27, 2010 at 3:34 PM


Conrad Strehlau writes:

Thanks for some great insights into the long tail concept. I believe that there is great importance in targeting keywords with less competition if they apply to your niche business. Why contest with head keywords when they will bring you traffic where only a part of that traffic will absolutely be the type of traffic you desire. Keep up the great SEO guidance.

Comment provided October 28, 2010 at 12:50 AM


Britt Malka writes:

Great blog post, and I loved the question from Alex :)

I have another question – in your Editorial Guidlines, you write: “Please limit your anchor text link length to 3 words in an article that is less than 400 words and 5 words in anchor text if your article is more than 400 words.”

This makes it hard to include a long tail keyword of 6 words. Does that mean that we should avoid long tail keywords longer than 5 words? Or can we sneak in the 6th word, if it makes sense and the article is good?

Comment provided October 28, 2010 at 5:18 AM



We do make exceptions when the article content warrants it.

This means the rule is not always black and white. The determination is made with many factors in mind and length, uniqueness, and value all play a role.


Michael Newman writes:

Thanks for a lucid expose on LTKs.

You have encapsulated a lot of info that has the potential to help increase conversion rates and exposure.

I gain a lot from EzineArticles.com


Comment provided October 28, 2010 at 9:11 AM



Thank you for the info, I was not aware about the long tail concept.

Does it apply for all industries?

Comment provided October 28, 2010 at 10:09 AM


According to Chris Anderson, author of the book “The Long Tail,” the concept can be applied to almost any industry. However, it is particularly observable and applicable in Internet-based industries.


Rocky Cole writes:

I sort of understood the long-tail-keyword concept before reading this article, but now it is clear. I see the value of trying to target articles, especially in highly competitive areas towards the long tail keywords instead of the broader category keywords. Thanks for the explanation.

Comment provided October 29, 2010 at 5:17 PM


Wendy R writes:

I use the long-tailed keywords all the time in my articles and find them very effective to get only targeted people reading my articles and visiting my sites or blogs.

The more specific the keyword is, the better chances of converting them into a paying customer or a subscriber to your blogs, email campaigns, articles or whatever else you are looking to gain readership to.

Comment provided November 2, 2010 at 8:38 AM


Rocky Cole writes:

Agreed 100 percent with what you just wrote, Wendy. When I first started looking at Keywords I thought that huge numbers was great, you know, a million searches for the term “shoes”. Now I understand that the long-tail-keyword “green and yellow rain shoes” with 100 searches is better if you are selling green and yellow rain boots or shoes, because the competition will be lower. And, this is the key, the person making that search is probably looking to buy green and yellow rain shoes.

When I finally understood that, the light went on.


Comment provided November 2, 2010 at 12:57 PM


Eva Heath writes:

Congratts to you for the way in which you clearly explain the long tail concept. I recently attended the Northern Rivers Tourism Symposium, there was a focus on the Long Tail Concept, I thought I understood it, however, your article has clarified many points. Unwittingly and fortunately I have been using this method, I target Old Wares and not Antiques, this has proven to be a successful campaign as our customers are looking for what we offer. Thankyou very much, I appreciate the sharing of knowledge and expertise. I look forward to the next article. Cheers, eve

Comment provided November 4, 2010 at 5:17 AM


Dachai C. writes:

Great article! I enjoyed the breakdown of each section: Head, Middle and Tail. Often, many of us are caught up in the head and middle, that the tail is neglected. Maybe it’s because folks are only concerned with hitting the big keywords and fearing that the tail may detract from their results? Cheers!

Comment provided November 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM


Bill Gelwick writes:

That is a great explanation. I had not thought it through that far before, but this is very true. If you are looking for that small laser targeted audience, the bottom of the tail would be a good place to start.

Comment provided February 7, 2011 at 3:55 PM


Bill Gelwick writes:

Thank you for sharing. I had not thought this through quite so deeply, but it makes perfect sense.

Comment provided February 7, 2011 at 3:56 PM



Using long tail keywords helps us reach out to more specific audience and it does not have much competition. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Comment provided February 8, 2011 at 6:44 AM


Bucee writes:

To tell the truth I have been using keywords for a half a year now, but it was a good decision to start optmising my posts for long tail keywords. I ususally optmize my posts for 2 or 3 related long tail keywords by this method I get quite a good traffic which is highly targeted.

Comment provided July 25, 2011 at 12:54 PM


Zeljko Vasic writes:

I am currently exploring the article marketing waters and although being familiar with the keyword research practise, you highlighted some points, that gave me some additional ideas on how to write my future articles for exposure as for my own website content. Very good information indeed.

Comment provided November 22, 2011 at 5:28 AM


greg prince writes:

Great article on long tailed keyword phrases. That is about the only way a new company can get ranked.

Comment provided December 20, 2011 at 7:56 PM


Rajwar Patellio writes:

Thank you for this information.

I wanted to know if you could target both long and short tail keywords in your article title

For example;

internet marketing- targeting the right audience OR
article marketing- top 20 reasons why you need to do it

Really like to hear some thoughts on this

Comment provided December 26, 2011 at 8:03 PM


Rajar –

There’s no reason why you couldn’t combine both long tail and short tail keywords into your title. In your niche, this may perform a function of attracting both a broad, less-focused audience and a narrow, more-focused audience. The former will bring you a higher number of readers (and thus more exposure), while the latter will bring you a smaller number of highly qualified readers (thus increasing your CTR). It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your articles.

You may also want to check out this blog post: http://blog.EzineArticles.com/2010/11/enrich-titles-with-keywords.html

– Marc


Dinesh writes:

Long tail keywords are narrow, they are less competitive and its easy to optimize a web page accordingly.

Whereas short tail keywords are very broad, they are very competitive and its difficult to optimize for them.

For long tail keyword research you have to make sure what your website is offering and what your website is targeting. For an effective long tail keyword research, you can use ‘Keyword Country’.

Both types of keywords are really important for a website…

Comment provided January 4, 2012 at 1:35 AM


bill k jamison writes:

I understand long tailed keywords but I thought I am to change the order of the keyword phrase in the first paragraph 3 to 5 times. Like “model railroad wiring” to “railroad model wiring”. My understanding this method gets the best SEO results. But sometimes when I do this my paragraph gets goofy sounding. What is your advice?

Comment provided January 24, 2012 at 9:55 PM


Bill –

Your first priority in article writing should always be writing high quality, original articles. SEO should definitely play a secondary role.

With this said, you do want to research your keywords for the best possible arrangement (provided it sounds correct) in order to maximize your SEO. This is particularly important in the title of your article. The general practice is to list the keywords in order of importance. For example you may want to choose “painting and weathering rolling stock” over “rolling stock painting and weathering”.

You should also research which variation of the keyword phrase gets searched for most and gets the most search traffic. If “painting and weathering rolling stock” gets 50 searches per day while “rolling stock painting and weathering” gets only, 5 it is a good decision to choose the variation that gets more searches.

You can also use Google Suggest to research variations of the phrase in question. Simply go to Google and start typing the phrase to see the list of options that appear. Searchers can be influenced to click on one of the suggested search queries rather than complete their own originally intended search.

– Marc


K Anglin writes:

Very interesting discussion on keywords: short tail, medium, and long tail. I definitely needed to get some information on what they mean. I think I will now be better able to structure my articles. This article is a God-sent.

Comment provided February 2, 2012 at 7:52 PM


Dr Sabuz Miah writes:

Very fantastic and helpful for all the writers.

Comment provided June 23, 2012 at 6:50 AM


Rosendo Cuyasen writes:

Your article open up some concepts on how to improve our articles but we’re wondering about writing specific long tail keywords. Do you have any tool for us to use in order for us to write better content for online users?

Comment provided July 19, 2012 at 6:57 PM


Hi Rosendo,

There are many tools that are available in order to help boost your article’s success. One such tool can be found within your My.EzineArticles account. Under the Performance tab click on the ‘Views’ for each article at the bottom of the page. Here you will find the Traffic Search terms readers used in order to find your specific article. This is a great way to see what the readers in your niche are looking for, and will help you create some new article topics that use these search terms. Another post that you will find to be beneficial can be found here: http://blog.EzineArticles.com/2010/10/increasing-article-views.html

Happy Writing!



maria andreson writes:

I had some space issue with my article and article didn’t posted. I like this EzineArticles checking method. I am going to write a new article to post here. One of the best place to share content.

Comment provided November 11, 2014 at 10:55 PM


Ashok Das writes:

What I know the long tail keywords are easy to rank on search engines but they will drive less traffic as compare to the short tail keywords, on other hand short tail keywords are very hard to rank on search engines why because they are very competitive but once they ranked, the traffic flow ill be high.

But the difference is below.

Long tail keywords: Huge traffic and less conversions
Short tail keywords: Less traffic and more conversions

So this is easy to choice the way to go. Any way, great article and very good concept. I appreciate it.

Comment provided July 27, 2016 at 8:01 AM


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our comment policy before commenting.