Usability Guru, Jacob Neilson weighs into the Long Tail discussion with some incredible data from the log files of UseIt. Amazingly, it shows that the Ziph distribution (former name of The Long Tail) looks to be a constant on the Internet. Regardless of the name, the phenomenon is that the total amount of pages, referrals, terms, etc. after the top 10 will far exceed the numbers of the top 10 itself.
Using data from 10 years ago, Nielson charts the referrers, pages view and search engine queries comparing the data from 1996 to 2006. He shows an amazing statistic that the shows is that the tail is indeed longer than the head when it comes to search. I’ll let him say it in his own words:
“To find useit.com, users employed a total of 110,399 different queries across various search engines. Of these queries, 83% were used only once during the eight-week period.
The top 10 queries accounted for 10% of the total traffic, so each one of these queries is obviously more important than those that brought only one visitor. Taken together, however, the single-use queries accounted for three times as much traffic as the top 10 queries.”
The implications for this are huge, especially for search marketers. Companies that get wrapped up into the top 10 search terms will lose sight that the majority of people finding their site (current and potential) will use terms outside of those top 10 terms.
I hope that you are using your logs and analytics to track this behavior on your site, otherwise you could be missing a major part of your market and missing a lot of potential business as well.