Study on the “Long Tail” of Search…11.10.08

10 11 2008

Bill Trancer’s Hitwise [http://www.hitwise.com/] post of Nov. 6 [http://weblogs.hitwise.com/bill-tancer/2008/11/sizing_up_the_long_tail_of_sea.html] reveals some interesting results of studying the “long tail” of search:

“…Estimating the Long Tail of Search

In September 2008, I opened the All Categories search report to discover Hitwise has measured more than 14 million different search terms in the U.S. alone for the previous 3-month period (note – Hitwise provides data going back three years). I exported the top 10,000 search terms to analyze the data. It came as no surprise that the top terms are generally navigational or behavioral terms with Myspace topping the list. However, what was surprising was the resulting chart below of the top 10,000 search terms:

Top 10,000 Search Terms by Percentage of All Search Traffic
dw3.png
Source: 1 Hitwise

Despite how it may appear, my Y-axis is scaled correctly and, though difficult to see, there is actually data displayed along the entire keyword plot. Keep in mind, this is just the top 10,000 search terms of more than 14 million. Zooming in even further to the top 100 search terms, I get this chart:

Top 100 Search Terms by Percentage of All Search Traffic
dw5.png
Source: 2 Hitwise

Now we are seeing something similar to past long tail search reports. However, this is just 100 search terms out of the more than 14 million. Even looking at the top 100, it appears that the tail starts around term #18, “bank of america.”

Assuming the tail doesn’t begin until term 18, the head and body together only account for 3.25% of all search traffic! In fact, the top terms don’t account for much traffic:

• Top 100 terms: 5.7% of the all search traffic
• Top 500 terms: 8.9% of the all search traffic
• Top 1,000 terms: 10.6% of the all search traffic
• Top 10,000 terms: 18.5% of the all search traffic

This means if you had a monopoly over the top 1,000 search terms across all search engines (which is impossible), you’d still be missing out on 89.4% of all search traffic. There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles…

In summary, the long tail aspect of the search is true, but the data tells us that there may really be no head or body. When it comes to search, virtually all traffic is long tail and the word “long” doesn’t do the length of the tail justice.”

All material © Copyright 1998-2008 Hitwise Pty. Ltd

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2 responses

29 02 2016
What are Long Tail Keywords?

[…] popular search terms is a missed opportunity. Bill Trancer put this into perspective in a 2008 post analyzing Hitwise […]

29 02 2016
What are Short Tail Keywords?

[…] Trancer put this into perspective in a 2008 post analyzing Hitwise […]

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