In an email today sent from Wordtracker trying to promote their SEO tools they state that based on a 2008 report by Bill Tancer at Hitwise, that for any given topic the top 100 keywords account for just 5.7% of all website traffic – while long tail keywords account for the remaining 94.3%!
If that were true it sure would make you want to skip past the high competition short-tail keywords and try to dig up as many low-competition long-tail keywords as possible to use on your website. Problem is, Mr. Tancer’s study was not about the top 100 keywords for “any given topic,” but the top 100 keywords used by all search engine users, starting with “Brittany Spears” at number 1 and going down from there. Certainly “Brittany Spears” isn’t the top search term for “any given topic”, just tops for, well, the topic of Brittany Spears.
I emailed Wordtracker the last time they sent out this email a couple months ago but I got no response back and they have not changed their message.
Long-tail keywords can be an important part of an SEO strategy but the best way to utilize them is to simply write lots of content for your site which is why a Content Management System like WordPress is invaluable. If you start trying to purposefully rank your site for long-tail keywords at the expense of short-tail keywords you are shooting yourself in the foot, contrary to what Wordtracker’s misquote of the Hitwise study might lead you to believe, unless you can come up with actual data as to the number of searches for that phrase. The problem is, long-tail keywords have such a low volume of usage that they don’t even register on Google’s tools. That means the volume is so low they are below their threshold for reporting so all you see is a big fat zero and no SEO company is going to try to rank for such a term.