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Home / Articles  / When to Cut the Long Tail
9 Comments
  • Ted Ives

    Great stuff Richard. Your mention of “allowing for better decision making” was a real lightbulb moment for me.

    Not just money is at stake, but the *time* invested in maintaining those terms (examining search query reports, bidding performance, even just the time filtering terms in and out of various analyses…) really takes away from time that could be used to optimize more profitable terms. This amounts to a sort of long-tail productivity tax on ROI. Very interesting point.

    I think Jefferson Airplane would give the same advice to this client:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WANNqr-vcx0#t=2m8s

    – Ted

    January 4, 2012 at 9:32 am Reply
  • Josef

    Thanks for the great article Richard. The examples really helped. I recently performed a similar analysis of keywords that led to conversions over 6 – 12 months and found it enlightening! It’s early days but ROI has already increased since the changes were made.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:26 am Reply
  • Nate

    Thanks for this, Richard! Great insights here. Good to see some data too. And just in case this doesn’t paint a convincing enough picture of the risks of overdoing the longtail, there’s also the matter of the potential drag on Quality Score, specifically on Google’s account-level QS variable.

    Just like with ROI, a single bad keyword with almost no volume is no big deal; but thousands of keywords with a few impressions and no clicks each can dampen your overall account-level QS variable, which can hurt your QS/CPCs/ROI even for the good keywords in the account as well. It’s like the bad apple poisoning the rest of the barrel, except it’s tens of thousands of microscopic bad apples poisoning a couple of good ones… Ok, maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you get the point…

    January 4, 2012 at 11:10 am Reply
  • Alex Campbell

    Great article Richard. A valuable reminder that established wisdom needs to be questioned once in a while. The extra degree of account control that this sort of cull would provide is reason enough to look into it, even ignoring the potential ROI impact. …updates to-do list…

    January 4, 2012 at 11:13 am Reply
  • Kevin Hill

    Great information here Richard. This is something that should be run every 1-3 months even! Much more than that, and you get into a fixit loop that can turn into a lot of jitter adjustments to the data. I would even go so far as to start looking at a system to tie revenue into each of the “buckets” in your great report.

    Perhaps I’ll find out that those 1 conversion keywords over a year cost me 50k, but generate 800k in revenue. Changes the landscape a bit when you tie revenue back into the numbers.

    Thanks for sharing this stuff – it is always refreshing to get a look into ways to improve ROI!

    Kevin Hill

    January 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm Reply
  • Brandon

    Great insight on long-tail keyword research. The notion that having thousands of static long-tail keywords on a ppc campaign, just for the fact that they might generate a few clicks is a surprisingly common misconception with new ppc search engine marketers. As you put it above, the collective negative impact of thousands of long-tail keywords and the issue of granularity those type of numbers create voids any transparency of important keyword-specific conversion analytics. This is the quickest way to not only go through a budget, but also to kill off a campaign before it has a chance to prove its potential for success.

    January 11, 2012 at 2:08 am Reply
  • Tally

    Nonsense welcome to the UK

    January 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm Reply
  • Ziggy

    […]Avinash Kaushik had a great post this moirnng about the different types of keywords visitors use to reach your site, what their intentions are, and how to measure keyword effectiveness based on where customers are in the sales funnel. This got me thinking about metrics in general. I often hear people complain that they are not getting enough hits to their website (which is a very outdated metric in any case). But when you ask them what goal/objective they are trying to measure, they usually cannot tie the two together.[…]

    February 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm Reply
  • Tuus

    […]Ce problème de tcaikrng de la chaine de valeur a déjà été excellemment décrit par Avinash Kaushik dans son article Measuring Upper Funnel Keywords (comprenez mesurez la performance des mots clefs en haut du tunnel de conversion). La description faites dans cet article traite plutot du SEM (search engine marketing ou achat de liens sponsorisés) mais elle s’applique parfaitement au référencement naturel. Le problème peut être résumé comme suit : si l’on se fie aux raport analytics il apparait que les mots clefs menant à la conversion sont les mots clefs contenant votre marque, ce qui n’est pas faux puisque ce sont ceux qui mène en dernière instance à la conversion.[…]

    February 8, 2012 at 8:55 am Reply
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