Ask us a question!

Web Moves Blog

Web Moves News and Information


Any reports of the death of blogging are premature

Blogging for long tail search

It isn’t hard to find people in the mainstream media (which, for good or ill, really is dying) to say that the so-called Long Tail is bunk, and blogging was a fad. Sure, a few years ago, everyone was starting blogs all over the place, and as a result, there are abandoned blog carcasses littering the internet. I know this because some of them are mine. Blogging was an untried, untested medium, and quite naturally, when people saw how easy it was to set up a blog, they set up millions of them. The line of thinking for lots of people (myself included, admittedly) was, “This is awesome! I can have a blog for my personal stuff, a blog about work, a blog with pictures of my kids and pets, and a blog with recipes,” etc.

Setting up a blog is easy. Keeping a blog over a period of years is hard. So the “Blogging is Dead” pundits have a point.

Spam blogs were too easy to set up and since they were basically content-free (except for ads), they tended to evaporate quickly. There were flat-out copycat blogs that copied posts wholesale. Many of these were, quite rightly, run out of the blogosphere on a rail. And lots of people found that posting a couple of recipes a week, plus comments on current events, plus details of a job search, plus pictures of kids, was actually very time consuming. Hence, we have things like Twitter and Facebook that are much more amenable to that type of posting.

But there is no way that “real” blogs are dying. My definition of a “real” blog is one that is consistently updated with actual, fresh content that is of interest to people – whether its interesting to six people or six million people. Blogging is inherently democratic as long as web neutrality is intact. Sure, the blogs (and Twitter posts, and Facebook updates) of celebrities will be read by more people and are heavily promoted. But your blog and my blog are every bit as available to people who search for the keywords associated with our blogs.

The mistake with blogging was not overestimating its power, but underestimating it. And anything with that kind of reach that does its job well enough to be consistently read is hard work.

Just to get this out of the way, the first screen shot, if anything, appears to be proof that the long tail is, in fact, dead. And maybe I’m tilting at windmills by refuting that, but here goes.

Long tail blog

There is no telling what people will want to look for. I cannot count the number of times I have wanted to know how to do something, or what something was about that the top search engine result was from a blog post several years old. Things like how to use a grommet tool don’t change that much with time, but somewhere, someone has written about it, and if you don’t know the information contained in that written post, it’s just as new as if it were written today. Your website’s blog is no different.

If I go into plain Google search and search on how to use a grommet tool, I get a list of sites where I can buy one. OK, I don’t necessarily want to buy one (yet), but I want to know how to use one. If I plug “grommet tool” into a Google blog search, however, the top result is a blog post from 2008. I’m willing to bet that if I search blogs on “grommet tool” in two years, it will still be at the top. Face it: there probably won’t be that many people that will be writing about grommet tools in the interim.

Google Grommet Tool search

blog search

Keep in mind that blogging for the long tail works better for some niches than for others. Tech blogs are more short-tail, unless you’re doing some sort of historical research. However, in niches where the pace of change is slow, like anti-trust law, the long tail theory applies. And in many cases, the long tail of blogging is where the long-term money is at. A study by Read Write Web applied long tail analysis to the entire blog universe showed that as long as they supply a sufficient amount of content continually, the model holds.

Taking advantage of the long tail theory isn’t an overnight process, as you might have guessed. Steady posts with usable content that is well written is what it takes, and you have to do it for months or years. But think of long tail blogging as an investment in your future, sort of like your retirement account. Those few dollars you kick in while you’re still in your 20s may seem like peanuts, but once you’re knocking on age 60, it seriously adds up.

Bill Tancer of Hitwise did some long tail research that showed that if you had a monopoly on the top 1,000 search terms across the major search engines, you would miss out on 89.4% of search engine traffic. He uses the analogy that if “search” were a lizard with a head one inch long, the lizard’s tail would be 221 miles long.

Content is king. Sometimes content will get short term results, which is great. But the long haul is where good quality content really shines, and you shouldn’t ignore it. One blog, tended steadily, will yield results, much like planting an orchard. You have to wait a while, but the payoff is long term and steady.