Mayday! Your long tail is going to get shorter, but maybe fatter
by Garry Przyklenk
As a frequent writer on search marketing topics and web analytics with a vested interest in the popularity of my content, I have to say the recent Google Mayday algorithm discussion at SES Toronto had me somewhat worried. Maile Ohye of Google Webmaster Tools keynoted day 2 in an open forum discussion with Mike Grehan and did a great job of dispelling several myths of Mayday, while reinforcing the sentiments Matt Cutts and others had made earlier this month. It got me thinking: would I prefer a shorter long tail, or a fatter one?
The problem with long tail keywords are that despite generating some absurd percentage of overall site traffic for well-optimized content, most of the time the quality of traffic isn’t good enough to convert. I would guess a significant percentage of long tail visitors are sent to a website because search engines aren’t quite sure whether your content is up to snuff for shorter, highly competitive, generic keywords.
Maile Ohye all but confirmed the fact Google is moving to user behavior data as a better signal than say keyword density to rank content in the SERPs. She also hinted at Google using conversion data for organic ranking signals as well, which got me worried yet again about what Google considers a conversion for my websites (heck, I might introduce a quality score all my own to Google on that one!).
I’m cautiously optimistic that if my long tail gets shorter, it might just get fatter. More visitors for longer tail keywords will do that, make the long tail shorter but fatter, and it might just make your wallet a bit fatter too. Obviously, it will all come down to measuring conversion results and how metrics change over time to determine the net effect of Mayday.
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